A lot of the positive responses a write-up will receive rest on the headline. The headline is the title of the article and is the very first line on which the reader’s eyes will fall when reading a write-up. A bland, unexciting headline will fail to stir the interest of the reader even if the body of the article is well-written and informative. Never waste a good article by making sure you use these tips for effective headline development:
Outline your article.
The headline and the article body feed off each other. One must reflect, promote and support the other in order to be effective. As such, it’s important that you build a relationship at the very beginning so your readers won’t be confused at the progression.
To make sure you don’t get lost, write a short outline of the article. This can be in the form of notes to help guide you on the topics you will be covering for the article and the succession of these topics. That way, you will have a reference on how the article will appear, something you can use for effective headline development.
Decide on the tone you will use
The tone of your article should be reflected by your headline. An optimistic, happy headline may not work with an article that is written in a serious, businesslike tone. Conversely, a formal headline may seem ill-conceived when used with an upbeat article.
Develop your headline based on the type of article you will be using
Ever read headlines developed by researchers for a certain scientific or medical study? They’re not exactly the kind of headlines you’ll find in a write-up for topics such as sports, personal care or relationships. These headlines tend to be formal and technical and there are no colloquial or slang terms used with them.
When developing headlines for your article, make sure it’s a good match to the type of write-up you will be doing. If it’s more technical, consider using a more structured headline. If it’s more upbeat, then do the same with your title.
Offer an overview.
Your article has to compete with others in the market. This is especially true if you will be writing for the Web, where for a single topic alone, readers will find thousands of sources, all of them original.
For effective headline development, make sure to write a title that offers your readers a good idea of what the article contains – and then interest them enough so they read the rest of the article.
Headline too long? Consider a sub-headline
Sometimes in order to grab the attention of your readers, you will be stuck with a headline that’s too long to be effective. If this happens, consider cutting the headline into two: one as the main headline and the other as the sub-headline. Readers can easily focus on these headlines and find the most interesting, salient points of the article.
Or, you could cut a long headline, use a provocative or interesting word or phrase followed by a colon and then write the rest of the headline. Some examples are below:
Game Hacks: How to Be a Master of Every Video Game You Play
Earth Angel: One Woman’s Journey to Becoming a Celebrated Environmentalist
Birds of a Feather: How Your Friends Affect Your Luck in Life
Notice how successful many of the marketing campaigns and promotions have been in the past? It’s because the copywriter was able to stir up intrigue and grab attention by using their headlines well.
An excellent method of headline development is using teasers that create intrigue. Words such as ‘secret to’, ‘little known ways’ ‘lazy man’s guide to’, ‘beginner’s guide to’, ‘you don’t have to be ___ to be ___’ and ‘methods you never knew existed’ can be quite effective for making the readers wonder and want to read more.