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Transcript of Headline writing
by Jodi Tandet
Read/re-read the whole story first.
Yes, the entire thing. You may get an idea by digging deep.
Play with words.
Choose a few key words, then play around.
Look for synonyms, puns, twists of phrase, rhymes and alliterations - when appropriate
Share your idea with other staff and readers
Use present tense.
Use active voice.
Leave out unnecessary words
Avoid ruining a great
surprise endings or opening.
Don't include new information.
Avoid unfamiliar acronyms and abbreviations.
Challenge your headline.
Is it too obvious? Could it have an unintended meaning?
Consider the story's tone
Consider photos & captions
Punch up verbs
Federal agents raid gun shop; find weapons
Woman improving after fatal crash
Man steals clock, faces time
Patient at death's door; doctors pull him through
Man struck by lightning faces battery charge
High school dropouts cut in half
Big Ugly woman wins beauty pageant
Drunk drivers paid $1,000 in '84
Children's death ruins couple's vacation
Something went wrong in jet crash
Diana still alive hours before she died
Man in pain after 800-lb ball falls on his leg
Hospital resorts to hiring doctors
Woman missing since she got lost
Not so great headlines
Numerals for all numbers
US, UK and UN
Italy buries first quake victims
Romania blamed over Moldova riots
Ten arrested in UK anti-terrorism raids
Villagers hurt in West Bank clash
Mass Thai protest over leadership
Iran accuses journalist of spying
Average: 5 words and 34 characters
Each headline conveys the gist of the story on its own
Each gives you a very good idea of what you'll get if you do click and lets you judge — with a high degree of confidence — whether you'll be interested in the full article