Bear Meets Man, Man Tickles Bear, Bear Laughs, Man Escapes

Have you ever been approached by a bear and wondered what to do? Well if you want to know this is not the blog post for you. I just made up the headline, sorry to decieve you! But you were interested after reading it, right? As I was reading a newspaper today I came across an article titled “Who is a Jew?…” That has to be interesting I thought so I clicked the link and started reading. Want to know who a jew is? Well this is not the blog post for that either. The article was interesting but what really peaked my interest after reading is, what makes a good title and what are some of the best? While a good lead is necessary to hook a read and keep his interest, a clever title is essential for grabbing interest in the first place. Especially online when the lead and all the other information is buried in a link and will only be seen if the title is interesting enough to persuade the viewer to click on it.

So with a new found curiousity for headline information I headed to google. Alas, when you type in “best newspaper headlines” and similar searches you get the funny and dumb headlines, more on that later. So I tried “how to” searches and came up with some material.

Copyblogger breaks down headlines into a few different categories much like Harrower breaks down Lede’s. Here they are:

  • Direct headlines: Sounds simple enough. These will probably work best when your story subject matter is sensational enough that it speaks for itself, like if a man actually did tickle a bear to escape death.
  • Indirect Headlines: This type of headline involved wordplay and appeals to reader curiousity.
  • News Headline: Copyblogger seems to be saying news headlines are straightforward and boring, well whatever copyblogger, I’m trying to change that.
  • How to Headline: Like “How to write a headline.”
  • Question Headlines: Maybe Harrower would suggest to avoid them, but the “Who is a Jew?” headline certainly got my attention.
  • Command Headline: This probably won’t work in hard news, telling someone to do something probably falls in the land of bias, but maybe columns and reviews? Perhaps, “Never watch (insert movie) if you value your life at all.” Feel free to comment on what movie you first thought of as you read that statement.
  • Reason Why Headline: This type of headline sounds like its best used with a list format.
  • Testimonial Headline: Probably the same guidlines as using a quote in a lede. Don’t use it unless it’s really good.

Well those are some headlines listed by Copyblogger. I definitely don’t feel like I’ve mastered the art of headlines after reading them, but I think it will help to make conscience decisions when trying to come up with a good title as opposed to typing whatever comes first 3 minutes before a blogpot is due!

Lastly, here are some silly newspaper titles I came across while searching that serve as a reminder that it is probably best for us to read our work outloud before we publish it. They didn’t supply sources to check so I don’t guarantee they all actually were published but they’re fun to read regardless.


About davidmehr

I'm a Journalism student at the University of Oregon. I'm also a rock climbing instructor and a soccer referee.
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