How you can write a headline like the professionals

I once worked on a “subs” (subeditors) desk with professionals from the national daily newspapers. It was astonishing how they could skim through an article, dream up a compelling headline, and just by looking at it, specify the type size which would make it fill the available space (this was in the days before computerised typesetting, of course). However, despite the revolution in communications over the past twenty years, so that headlines now need to work on paper, on screen and in email subject lines, I don’t think the principles of a killer headline have changed. And the headline is now more important than ever, because unlike a newspaper page, if an email subject line isn’t good enough, the reader won’t see the message at all.

So you must try to write great headlines for your articles, whether it’s a web page, a press release, an email or whatever. The principles are well-known, and most people writing about the subject tend to be retreading old ground, but you can never have enough reminders to keep learning. In 5 Sure-Fire Sources for Headline Inspiration on Copyblogger, there are some great places to look. I guarantee if you do so, you’ll find one or two ideas which will make you say: “I could use that”.

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