Headlines: 6 Practical Tips for Writing Effective Headlines

by | Oct 28, 2009 | Marketing & Selling

Since the headline is usually and first thing a reader sees, it is the first piece of copy that will either draw in or repel your reader. Therefore, creating compelling headlines is a critical skill in copy writing.

There are plenty of templates out there that you can use to create a winning headline, but if you don’t understand the process that went into creating them, you’ll never be able to create on on your own (or even truly tweak one) that is as effective as you want it to be.

Here are six tips that can help you develop your winning headlines.

1. Outline Your Article or Sales Letter
This may be a no brainer, but your headline has to accurately reflect what is inside your copy. So, you need to know what your copy is going to say before you can write a good headline. However, you don’t necessarily have to actually write it … a good outline will do the trick for the first draft.

2. Determine Your Tone
The tone of your headline also needs to match the tone of your copy. You don’t want to lead into a softly written article or sale letter with an in-your-face headline. If you copy is casual, so should your headline be.

3. Determine Your Style
Again, like tone, the style of your copy and headline should match. Technical copy … technical headline. Tongue-in-cheek headline … tongue-in-cheek copy. You get the picture.

4. Break It Up
Is your headline getting too long? Consider breaking it up into a headline withe sub-head. Here are some examples:

No More Backbreaking Garden Chores for Me
Yet Ours Is Now the Showplace of the Neighborhood!

Great New Discoveru Kills Kitchen Odors Quick!
Makes Indoor Air “Country Fresh”

The Crimes We Commit Against Our Stomachs
Five Foods You Should Avoid If You Suffer from Indigestion

5. Ask a Question
There is just something about a question, properly worded, that gets people to read on for the answer. Just be sure that you actually answer your provocative question in the body of your copy.

6. Make Them Wonder
How many headlines have drawn you in with a little intrigue. When you see a headline that contains the following words and phrases, don’t you feel compelled to read on?

  • Secret
  • Little Known Ways
  • Lazy Man’s Guide to …
  • Beginner’s Guide to …
  • You Don’t Have To Be a ____ To Be ____
  • You Never Knew Existed
  • They Don’t Want You To Know

Of course there are a lot more ways to write compelling headlines, but these tips should help you get started on the right path.


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