Make headlines the first priority

Headlines are key in online stories. The headline is often the only way a reader can decide whether to click on the story or not.

Headlines are too often written at the end of the process rather than the beginning. Readers read headline, lead and then the rest of the story. Too often reporters write lead and story, then someone else writes the headline.

Breathe life into headlines” at Poynteronline. In a presentation at the March 2004 American Copy Editors national conference Jenny Montgomery, local news editor for offers these suggestions (near the bottom of the article):

? be specific enough to hook readers
? have key words that refer to past stories in the news that are on people’s minds during watercooler chat
? be written in a conversational tone
? be simple and straightforward
? give the pertinent information since online hedlines don’t typically follow newspaper design strategies such as drop heds
? find a blend of sensationalism and exaggeration
? use “magic” words that everyone is curious about (e.g., babies, spam, the Web, viruses, taxes, reality TV).

Also another proponent of well-written headlines is Howard I. Finberg’s “How Headlines Can Help“. Best line: I believe that websites are missing an opportunity to attract and retain website visitors with better and more interesting headlines.

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