During one’s career as a Journalist, writer or Blogger there is going to be the need to write a headline. A good report, article or post can lose many readers if it does not have a headline that draws attention. This is what is called a catchy headline. It is the first thing that the reader sees and it will determine if they read more.
The worst thing you can do is have a headline that bears no resemblance to what the story is about. A reader sees your headline and then after reading the story not once but twice can not see evidence that relates to what the headline is saying. Some readers can be left with the impression that it is a deliberate attempt to mislead or influence readers without the evidence provided. Even worse it could be seen as incompetence.
The headline sets the mood of the story. The reader should be able to tell if this is about a serious matter or a light one. It could also be a reflection of the character of the medium and writer.
So you have your report, story or post all written up but now what is the headline to introduce the story. The headline must highlight the most important point of the story and be guided by the lead. Some headlines will not be hard to decide on. You may even have a clue of what it could be before you start writing.
Here is the real test. A time comes around when your story is ready but the choice for headline has you a bit puzzled. You are pressured for time and need to get it quickly. Read your story a few times and consider what you regard as the most important point that you have written. Once you have identified that write a few headlines, then read the story again. Your choice must be the one that gives the most punch to the story.
A headline is best when it appears fresh so make an effort not to write one that could appear on just every day of the week. Find an angle to your story that has not been rehashed. For example an in-depth look at road accidents in a number of countries could be placed under a headline such as “No Spills, No Thrills: Just Death On The Road!”
We have heard so much about the effect of smoking on the smoker but what about non-smokers. You draw attention by writing “The plight of non-smokers.” The reader will be curious about what is this plight that non-smokers face. Another article giving health information could be titled “Turn down the volume and save your health.” Be specific and you will be on the right track.