Home > Uncategorized > Clear, clever headlines pull readers into stories

Clear, clever headlines pull readers into stories

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Headlines matter The Omaha World-Herald headlines pictured in this post were national contest winners last year, winning praise from the American Copy Editors Society. Do they make you want to know more about the stories?

Most readers skim newspapers reading only the stories that quickly grab their interest. They may decide whether to buy the paper based on a quick scan of the headlines peeking out from a newsstand or news rack. Most readers spend only seconds online before they decide whether to click on a story or turn to a different website. The importance of good headlines can’t be overestimated.

Headlines should:

  • Be clear.
  • Be fair.
  • Be specific.
  • Be interesting.

To learn how to write good headlines,  read  Ten Tips for Writing Headlines. Then scan a news website or a newspaper page. Find two headlines that made you want to read the stories. Tell me what the headlines said, briefly what the stories are about and why you liked the headlines. Post your answers before the beginning of class on Wednesday,  Oct. 26, in the comments section below for your class.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Zach Tegler
    October 25, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    1: “City looks at selling itself” I like this headline because of the double entendre. At first the reader is taken aback: is the city going to give itself away? But then you realize it is referring to advertising. The clever headline led got me interested in the story, which was about the $1.2 million Lincoln could earn in the next three years through potential advertising campaigns.

    2. “NYC artist plans birth as performance art” I like this headline not because it is clever but because it taunts. The story is about Marni Kotak, an artist in New York who is going to give birth in front of an audience at an art gallery. The headline for the story is shocking – it comes out and says what is going to happen without giving away many details, which made me want to read the story.

  2. Jordan Kranse
    October 25, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    One of the headlines I really liked was “Taking zombies seriously” from the Omaha World Herald (The headline for it online was “Deadly serious about zombies”, which I thought was a little cliché. But I like the headline they used for print.) The story was about a meeting of the Omaha chapter of the Zombie Research Society and the “zombie-preparedness” movement throughout the United States. I thought it was a good headline because it was simple and gave information without being overly cliché. When I first glanced at it, I thought it was going to be something like “Taking debt seriously” or “Taking Wall Street seriously” or something more political like that, but when I saw that it was about zombies, I was immediately drawn in. Not many people take zombies seriously, so I was intrigued as to what it meant. I thought that it gave just enough information on the story without revealing what the whole thing was about.

    Another one I liked “Will Amazon Kill Off Publishing Houses?” from the New York Times’ website. The story was a debate among several experts on how Amazon is aggressively expanding their publishing services by including agent services, publishing, and a seller all in one place and what it means for book publishers. I liked this headline because of its active voice. The verb “kill off”, rather than something like “pushed out”, grabs the reader’s attention and immediately makes them interested in the story. It also clearly states what the story is about and gives the actual question of the debate as the headline.

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