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How to Write a News Article: Headlines

Basic guidelines for creating news articles in print, photos, and video.

About Headlines

Headlines are becoming increasingly important in the internet age. Not only do they capture the reader's attention, they serve as source material for search engines. Today a reader is just as likely to come across an article by reading a list of search engine results as by scanning a newspaper page.

Headlines should be clear and specific, telling the reader what the story is about, and be interesting enough to draw them into reading the article.

  • 5-10 words at the most
  • should be accurate and specific
    • City Council to Cut Taxes doesn't mean the same thing as City Council to Cut Budget
  • Use present tense and active verbs, but don't start with a verb
    • Man Skateboards for Homeless
  • Use infinitive form of verb for future actions
    • Convention to Create Jobs
  • Do not use articles - a, an, the
  • Do not use conjunctions like and - you can substitute a comma
    • President Declares Peace, Holiday
  • Should be complete sentences or imply complete sentence
    • Crackdown on Trafficking doesn't tell you who's doing the trafficking and what kind of trafficking
  • Avoid repetition - Headlines summarize; they don't repeat the lede.
    • Rays Win - not Rays Win Final Game of Playoffs
  • Don't use unidentified pronouns
    • They Win Pennant!
  • Avoid clever for clever's sake
    • Rays Flip-Flop On St. Petersburg