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Do's and Don'ts of Headline Writing

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by A Moe on 8 October 2013

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Transcript of Do's and Don'ts of Headline Writing

The Dos and Don'ts of Headline Writing
If it's not in the story, don't write it!
First things first, make sure you understand
what the story is about. Headlines should be
based on the main idea of the story.
Governor waits to announce environmental plan
Specificity
Articles:
Grammar Rules of Headline Writing
Punctuation can completely change the meaning of your headline. Fix these headlines!
Use it sparingly, especially exclamation points!
Use a comma to separate ideas.
Use a semicolon wherever a period would otherwise seem appropriate.
Obama admits mistake
Successful and Effective Headlines
Logic
Headlines should make sense. You can't be vague and assume the reader will continue to read the rest of the story to figure it out.
Locals meet at burger joint
So what? People meet all the time!
Headlines should be as specific as possible. Your reader should get a good idea about the feature story just from the headline.
It's obvious what this feature story is about.
Apple releases the best iPhone yet
Objectivity
Journalists never express their opinion in headlines of feature stories. You are delivering the FACTS, not your OPINION.
Yeah, maybe according to you!
But what about non-Apple users!?
Double Entendres
Look out for double meanings. You don't want your readers to be confused about what the article is actually about.
Clinic gives poor free legal help
What are the multiple meanings of these headlines?
Police begin campaign to run down jay walkers
Owners responsible for biting canines
And:
Instead of using "and" use a comma instead.
Avoid using "a", "an", or "the".
New police patrols help keep the streets safe
New police patrols help keep PARAMUS streets safe
Puns:
Puns are a play on words and are great for writing headlines.
Verizon users have too many hang-ups
Three students booked in library dispute
Mayor and council meet on budget for next year
Mayor, council meet on budget for next year
Puctuation:
President announces freezes; Congress to discuss it
Professor of Greek thought dead at 59
Possible witness to murder drunk
Teachers strike idle kids
Dr. Seuss, man of rhyme and reason, dead at 69
Excuse me, myth, but men aren't really like that
New burger targeted for McLean times
Headlines and notes taken from Kansas University Online Writing Guides
Locals meet at burger joint to plot planet take-over
That's better!
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