Tips for good headline writing / 16 октября 2007 г.

  1. POINT UP THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE STORY. That doesn’t mean stealing the reporter’s lead. You can use material from the lead, but change the words.
  2. BE ACCURATE — in fact, tone, scope and focus. There is no place for headlines that aren’t absolutely accurate. Near is not good enough.
  3. REFLECT BALANCE AND GOOD TASTE. This is as important in a headline as in a story. Don’t write a cute head on a serious story.
  4. BE CLEAR, SUCCINCT AND GRAMMATICALLY CORRECT. Be sure the headline is easy to read and understand. Use everyday language where possible.
  5. CATCH THE READERS’ ATTENTION and entice them into the story. Have fun, where appropriate. Reading is work. You can make it enjoyable.
  6. AVOID CLICHES. “Security tight,” “won’t rule out” and “mixed reactions” are just a few examples.
  7. ATTRIBUTE ALL HEADS THAT NEED ATTRIBUTION. Make sure the newsmaker — and not the newspaper — is making claims.
  8. MAKE EVERY WORD COUNT. Avoid headlines that waste words. “Jailed” is more direct than “sent to jail.”
  9. AVOID TRIVIAL DETAILS that cause distortion by emphasis. Don’t write the headline based on the last half of the story. And if you’re writing a headline on a feature that has a zinger in the last paragraph, don’t even think about stealing it for the headline.
  10. FIND WAYS TO AVOID “MAY” HEADS. They’re vague and heads ought to be precise. Be specific; avoid generalizations.
  11. LOCATE STORIES. Use city or country names when they’re needed.
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