A good headline can stop listeners from switching off their radios and get them to lean closer to hear more. Headlines work hard: with just a few words, they hook listeners, hint at what’s coming up later on the show, and provide just enough information to understand the story.
Headlines should be both brief and jam-packed with facts. To help with the difficult task of writing headlines, the International Journalists Network (IJNET) has published a short guide that includes the following pointers:
- Know your platform. Broadcast, print, web, and social media headlines have different tones and constraints.
- Know your audience. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes, then write the headline from a perspective they can relate to.
- Be straightforward. Headlines should tell the story and include the main ideas, not withhold them.
- Word choice matters. You can interest more people by using verbs in your headline than by writing headlines full of nouns and adjectives.
- Do not depend on context. Assume your potential readers have little to no knowledge about your article’s topic. Then ask yourself: would they be able to understand this headline?
- Grammar is important. Some special grammatical rules apply when writing headlines.
- Does your headline have TACT? Check for Taste, Attractiveness, Clarity, and Truth.
To read the IJNET guide, please see: https://ijnet.org/en/blog/tips-writing-better-headlines