How To Write An Effective Headline

July 14, 2009

What is the job of the headline? To get someones attention. A good headline pulls the readers attention farther down to the story itself. It makes a reader say to themselves: “What's this?”

Your headline should do all of these things: create curiosity, promise an answer or a solution, include a benefit to the reader.


Have Fun

Create curiosity by asking a thought provoking question or make an outrageous statement. It has to be true though and you will have to prove it in the body of the article. If what you are saying needs a little clarification, use a subhead.

Peter Piper Picked A Peck Of Peppers

Winging It

quarter wing night at the bar

The first one, using alliteration, tells you exactly what is going on, but the second needed a little help.


State The Benefit

Answer the question that is on your reader's mind, “Why should I care?” Let the reader know what the main benefit to them is in the headline. Then all they have to do is read the story for further details. Offer a solution to a problem that is probably on the reader's mind already. The following techniques will help you create great headlines.

  1. Ask a question

  2. Make a statement

  3. Tell the reader “ how to” do something.

  4. Begin with a number( 5 tips to...)

  5. Make a catch phrase or new word with a product name( ReadyWhite bleach)

  6. Use catch words like new, improved, more, etc

Keep It Short

Never go over 7 words in your headline. Longer than that and the reader will get tired of the headline and move to the next story. If you think you have to have more words, use a subhead.



If you promised something in the headline, deliver on it in the body of the text. The headline supports the body and the body supports the headline. It is a symbiotic relationship that can not be ignored if you want to be successful.

Always deliver. Deceptive headlines will anger your readers and keep them from reading your material again. They will feel cheated out of the story they wanted to read.

Even though you know the tricks of the trade to writing catchy, engaging headlines, you will still fall short from time to time. Read the headline over and over before you publish the story

Jerry's picture

About Jerry Brisinger

I am the Marketing Director of a small media development company. We deal with hardware,software, and hard goods. As part owner of that company, I am able to see many of the true inner workings of the decision making process. Over my years in the marketing field I have striven to show simplify people's way of thinking on the subject. Many executives and small business owners try to over complicate the entire idea. They are wrong. In my posts I hope to show you what it is that I mean.

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