7 Secret Shortcuts for Writing Great Headlines


Image: autiscy

The headline is the first thing that catches a reader’s eye. Nobody (except for judges in advertising competitions) will read your entire post or ad unless the headline does its job.

If you’re stuck for ideas, here are seven headline tips and formulas that make creating headlines easy.

1. Start with a number

People love lists. They promise knowledge, quick help, and understanding of complex problems— in a format that’s easy to read and digest.

2. Ask readers if they make common mistakes

A headline asking if readers made “these common mistakes in English” was a bit direct mail hit long ago. Ask your readers if they make these common design mistakes, or web development errors.

3. Offer a quiz

It’s fun to test your knowledge, especially if it’s a contest. Have your readers see how well they do on common (or uncommon tests of grammar, design, or photography tricks.

4. Make a big promise

Offer to get rid of [horrible problem] once and for all. Or, a quick, easy way to do something hard.: Get a web site that’s impressive and easy!

5. Offer inside information or big savings

Everything you need to know to get cheaper software, or how to (do something that’s usually expensive) on a budget.

6. Create an especially large list

This is particularly effective in social media or blog posts you want bookmarked or shared. List 51 design tools under $50, or 27 free marketing ideas. The longer the list, the more important it appears.

7. List the best (or the worst) examples

“The best software under $50,” or “The worst marketing email. Ever. ” Why is that software so great?  And what made that email so awful?  The only way to learn the answer is to read the article.

What are your best sources of inspiration for headlines? Share them in the comments.

And how many of the headline formulas did I use in this post?

4 thoughts on “7 Secret Shortcuts for Writing Great Headlines

  1. I love them all! I’ve got to use #3 more often. I think that’s one that is underused by many bloggers. And, I do believe you used all 7 of them!

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