News Headlines; Types, Elements, and qualities of a good headline

Content developed by Shruti Goyal

A Headline is the title of a newspaper story, printed in large letters at the top of the story, especially on the front page. The Daily Mail has the Headlines ‘The Voice of Conscience’. The headlines are the main point of the news which are read on the radio or television.

The headline or heading in the text indicating the nature of the article below it. The large type front page headline did not come into use until the 19th century when increased competition between newspapers led to the use of attention-getting headlines. It is the gist of the whole news. It is important because it helps the reader to identify the nature of the news so that they don’t have to go through the whole news to understand what it is about.

The headlines appeal to the readers and they read the news below if they find the headline interesting enough. Headlines are like a signpost that directs the reader to the story. It also determines the number of people who go through the story. The role of headlines in making a story striking has always been a very important subject matter among the editorial staff. Giving attractive headlines to a story is an “ART”.

Types of Headline
News Headlines

Elements of News Headlines

1.   Proximity

If an event is happening nearby, it will impact the audience more than if it were happening somewhere else that doesn’t affect them as much-say, in another state or another country.

2.   Prominence

A well-known person, place, or event has a stronger news angle than something that the audience isn’t familiar with. A guest speaker visiting your local elementary school to take over storytime doesn’t resonate with many people…unless that speaker is Oprah.

3.   Timeliness

Current news has more impact than something that happened yesterday or last week. The news media loses interest quickly and past events become stale when there’s always fresh news somewhere.

4.   Oddity

If something is unusual, shocking, or bizarre, the strangeness alone could make it newsworthy.

5.   Consequences

If the impact of an event may directly affect readers, they’ll want to know about it. A run-of-the-mill burglary at the Watergate Hotel was while noise on the airwaves until it became clear what the identities of the key players meant for the nation.

6.   Conflict

The audience is always interested in disagreements, arguments, and rivalries. If an event has a conflict attached to it, many consumers will be interested in that basis alone.

7.   Human Interest

If a situation draws any sort of emotional reaction, it might contain the news elements of a human- interest story. These stories can be “soft” kid-at-the-petting-zoo snapshots, infuriating reports of incompetence on the part of a public figure.

8.   Extremes/superlatives

Reporters and Audiences might be interested in the first, the best, the longest, the smallest, the highest- if you can legitimately claim one. Be careful. Do not overly focus on this, create hyperbole, or exaggerate claims. Dishonesty here will come back to bite you.

9.   Scandal

Everyone loves to hate on the philandering congressman who sends inappropriate pictures under an absurd virtual handle. Reporters want a scoop on the scandal.

10.   Impact

Whether it’s a peaceful protest that encompasses five city blocks or a 52-car pileup on the pike, the more people involved in the event, the more newsworthy it is. Similarly, the number of people affected its newsworthiness, whether it’s an adjustment of minimum wage or an alleged outbreak of Ebola.

Qualities of a Good Headline

Thanks to social media such as Twitter and Facebook, it’s easier to share content than ever before. And if you’re using these tools, there’s a greater chance that people will read your business blog posts. However, this also places more importance on the title of your posts than in the past. Why? Well think about this: when someone Tweets your blog article, what do other people see? Your headlines. That means they will choose whether or not to click on your blog based on your headlines alone. No summaries. Probably no pictures. So how can you write your headline that makes people click through? The truth is, it’s part science, part art. And while we might not be able to layout formula for you, we’ve found that good headlines all tend to share most of the following qualities.

1. Eye-catching

Sounds obvious. You want a headline that will catch people’s attention first and foremost. But how? Begin with trigger words that have proven to work. Things like free, sake and win are good for posts that offer products. For informational posts, lists such as ”top 5” or “how to” tend to catch the eye.

2. Believable

Don’t get so wrapped up in trying to make things eye-popping that you are untruthful. Nothing will anger a reader like a headline that doesn’t deliver. Sure it might get someone to click, but they won’t come back!

3. Active voice

If you use verbs in your title, keep them active. In other words, instead of “7 ways to be a Millionaire, “ make it active by saying something like “7 Ways to Generate Millions of Dollars.”

4. Easy to read

Gimmicks are just that-gimmicks. Stay away from strange fonts, all caps, and the like. Anything that makes your headlines more difficult to read will cause people to skip over it.

5. Brief

Long titles make people yawn. Make your headline short but sweet. Brevity is key, especially since Twitter limits your character.

6. Accurate

Give your readers a good idea of what they’ll be reading. Ambiguity is nice in fiction – but this isn’t fiction.

Remember, don’t let your headline be an afterthought. It’s just as important as the actual content of your post. A bad one could cause your article to never get read. A good one could generate click after click.


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