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Writing Headlines

Once you have your story written, it is time to create a headline. Well-written headlines grab the reader's attention. They convey clear, concise thoughts while poorly written headlines mislead and confuse a reader.

Here are some tips you can use:

  1. Read the story. Read through the whole thing before you try to write a headline.

  2. Think about why the story is important and why you want to have it published. That's the idea you want to get across in your headline.

  3. Take two key words from the story - nouns that represent the main ideas in the story, especially the main action or result.

  4. Use strong verbs that deliver a punch and always write the headline in the active voice.

  5. Do not use unnecessary words such as prepositions (is, are) or articles such as a, an or the.

  6. For a news story, your headline should summarize what is most newsy about your story. With an editorial, entertainment or sports story, there's more room for humor or clever words but you will still want to convey the main point of your story.

  7. Try on words. Think about the main words that pertain to the story. Think about the way they sound. Then think about words that sound good with those words. Play with the language in your head.

Headline Checklist

  • Does the headline express the main idea of the story?
  • Does the headline effectively label the story's content?
  • Will it create reader interest?
  • Will it move readers into the story?
  • Does the headline focus match the lead focus?
  • Are the words short, common, colorful, powerful, specific?
  • Would you read a story with this headline?


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