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How to write a headline

The art of writing catchy headlines is the difference between your article, or blog, reaching the eyes of your targeted readers – or disappearing into the ether as they scroll / flick disinterestedly past. Learning how to write a headline is key to both PR and content marketing.

Many a well-written article, even those with ground-breaking content, has slipped under the radar because the title didn't entice readers.

So, how do you write a headline that gets clicked?

Pique an audience’s interest and grab their attention.

Headline dos

  • Consider your audience
  • Be bold – or even contrary – as well as authoritative and clear
  • Keep your headlines active, not passive
  • Is the title meaningful and interesting – would you read this article
  • Keep SEO in mind
  • Be shareable

Headline don'ts

  • Don’t be personal (‘I’) or overly clever
  • Don’t write overly long headlines or use slang/jargon

Whether you are someone who decides on their headline before writing the copy, as a way of focusing and guiding their writing direction, or if you prefer to summarise an already-written article by creating a headline at the end, keep these pointers in mind.  Use the title as an opportunity to both endorse and enhance your article and you are sure to cut through the noise.

How to write a headline - examples

Some great examples of how various publications across the globe chose different headlines from a press release BlueSky Education worked on with UCL School of Management to promote their research into the impact gender and attractiveness have on careers:

‘Handsome men are rejected for competitive jobs’ – Bloomberg

‘Why being an attractive male is bad for your career’ – Metro

‘Being a handsome man could stop you getting that promotion’ – New York Daily News

‘It’s true – being handsome is a living hell’ – MSN Australia

‘Do you have a hiring bias against handsome men?’ – HR Director Singapore

‘How good looks hurt guys’ careers’ – Guyana News Network

‘Is it possible to be too beautiful?’ – Telegraph

For the full original article on the art of writing headlines read Wildfire - BlueSky Education's quarterly publication filled with media insights for higher and business education.

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