H is for writing headlines

H is for writing headlines

The art of writing headlines

We hate to repeat the phrase, but first impressions really are everything. If your headline is unengaging, then people read no further. Indeed, they may not even find your article. Ensure when writing headlines that they are focused, relevant and unambiguous.

So how do you write headlines well?

Always keep in mind who you’re up against when putting your title together. Composed of many ex-journalists, Highbrook is ony too aware of some of the tactics used. BRASH cap-locked headlines with EXCLAMATION marks are CERTAINLY one APPROACH!

We advise against this, however. At best it will be irritating for readers; at worst you will come across as a fraudster or peddler of malware.

A simple and to-the-point phrase, natural tone and a consideration for SEO will get you far.

The way you start headlines is obviously the most important part.

Create a call to action by opening with an active verb, such as ‘Let’s’, ‘Why you should’, ‘Find out’ or ‘Discover’.

Let the reader know that you are providing information in a clear and simple way with a numbered list such as ‘Seven ways to’. It is corny, but it works. Don't, however, overdo it.

Ask questions, such as ‘Can you’, ‘Which’, ‘Who’, ‘When’ and ‘Why’ (again).

Create urgency, maybe even provoke a bit of fear. But never fall into the trap of blowing your story out of proportion. Disappointment is hard to rectify down the line.

Puns, wordplay and niche jokes might be one way of attracting clicks. But if they’re overused or don’t contribute to the story then don’t bother. If you’re looking for organic traffic, remember that robots will not understand them and probably mark you down, too.


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Francis Jay
Francis Jay

Writer and editor