7 Headline Rules to Always Follow

There are some surefire headline tactics that work well. You can use numbers, for example, or make a promise, or arouse curiosity. Whatever headline tactic you take, there are some hard and fast rules that apply to any approach. Here are seven rules that your headlines must follow.


#1 Always Write in Present Tense – Headlines are newsworthy, right? Well, for something to be news, it has to be happening. “Scientists discovered weight loss miracle” isn’t present tense and it is awkward to read. “Scientists discover weight loss miracle” is written in present tense. It’s more effective and easier to read.

#2 Cut Out Unnecessary Words – There are many accessory words that people tend to leave in a headline. Here’s a quick example, “Scientists discover a weight loss miracle.” The word “a,” while a short word, is still unnecessary and should be removed. Every word in your headline needs to have a purpose. If you’re unsure if a word should be removed, remove it and read the headline. If it still makes sense, then you’re good.

#3 Keep it Short – The shorter and more concise your headline is, the better. If you post on Twitter then you’re already accustomed to saying as much as possible with very few words. Apply that skill to your headline writing. What is the article, blog post, or press release about, and how can you summarize it in ten words or less?

#4 Know Your Audience – It’s imperative that you write your headline to your audience. It has to be from their point of view. It has to provide value, make a promise, or be interesting to them. That means you want to understand their problems, emotions, and what words and ideas are important to them.

#5 Keywords Help – When you’re writing a headline, think about the words people will use to find your content. What are they looking for? Are they looking to lose weight? If so, then the words “weight loss” will be powerful words in your headline, right? Your reader will immediately connect with the headline. And keywords in your headline help improve your search results. More people who are interested in weight loss will find it.

#6 Avoid Exclamations! – Exclamation points are unnecessary and they detract from your headline. It makes your headline read more like a sales statement than an introduction to valuable content.

#7 Choose Words with Impact – Some words are stronger and more impactful than others. Evaluate your headline and make sure each word has a purpose and has an impact.

Finally, make sure that your headline is easy to understand. It shouldn’t contain any jargon or overly complicated words. If you’re not sure if your audience will know what your headline is trying to say, then you’re not saying it with the simplest words.

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Anthony Santiago is Director of Marketing at Newswire. With over a decade of experience in PR, he helps ensure that clients understand the value of brand messaging and reach.

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