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Secrets to Creating Great Headlines
by: Catherine Franz
By Catherine Franz

Great! You finished your piece and now need a headline. Usually headlines are less than ten words and need to be expressed in short, expressive, active words. This provides quick focus and pull in. By waiting until you know what you are ending up with, it will save you time. You can give a temporary headline while drafting.

If you have a good lead paragraph, you will find the headline. If you want to intrigue or hook your readers, look at the significant points instead. Which idea or thought can you use as that hook.

Here are some tips on how to write that headline:

1) Grab a highlighter and underline the nouns and key words in your lead paragraph.

2) From the key words, imagine yourself composing a telegram, and each word is costing you $10. Avoid articles -- A, An, The -- and prepositions -- On, Under, Beside, etc.

3) Substitute simple but effective synonyms to keywords. Say "polls" instead of "elections" or "go on" instead of "continue."

4) Write headlines that are simple and easy to read. Don't use heavy words. Use words that are short and familiar.

5) Directly give your story's main idea at the beginning of your headline.

6) Try and working in the main benefit the reader gets for reading further. Also, add another benefit in the lead paragraph, to keep them moving forward.

7) Use dynamic and powerful words. Not what you think is powerful but what you reader is going to think as powerful.

8) Always be specific and avoid generalities. "Do this and you will get this" needs to be specific to be believable. Provide examples or statistics. Give the result that is believable to the reader.

9) Only use a person's name in the headline if they are well known. Provide a link to where someone can find out more about this person.

10 Repeating key words, using weak verbs such as a, an, is, are, or starting the line with a verb is not recommended.

11) If you have to use abbreviations, do so only when the abbreviation is commonly known to your main target market. Create a footnote for a definition or place the abbreviations in parentheses.

12) Use numbers only if important and write them in figures -- use B for billion and M for million.

13) Even if your statistics are out standing you might night want to state them. If they are too unbelievable, people will not buy.

These thirteen tips are not all inclusive to all the tips and techniques you can use to create headlines. When I wrote these I wanted to convey some suggestions for the frequent mistakes I see made or unique recommendations that will get your headline noticed quickly and build curiosity.

Catherine Franz, business and writing coach, resides in Virginia and is a syndicated columnist, radio producer, International speaker, and author.


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