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Grabbing Some Attention: Tips for Writing Great Headlines Back

What is the key to getting your newsletter read? It could lie at the top! Writing captivating and interesting headlines is the best way to grab your readers’ attention. Your goal when writing a headline should be to capture your readers’ attention and to compel them to want to read more. In order to get this attention, your headline should evoke an emotional response in your reader. Make them laugh, get them angry, stimulate their curiosity or make them think.

Unlike a newspaper, you can be a bit more creative when writing your headlines. Newspaper headline writers must be direct, concise, and straightforward. Consider this example of two types of headlines for an article in a newspaper discussing an electric utility’s funding of public service projects:

Omaha Electric Gives $10 Million Grant
Lighting the Way: Omaha Electric’s Public Generosity

If you were writing for a newspaper, the first headline would be more appropriate. However, your newsletter is not such a formal publication. You can be more creative in your headline writing. The second headline would work better in a newsletter.

One reason for this is that a newspaper is read by thousands of people, all of who have different interests and uses for the information that they receive. Your newsletter is directed at an audience that is, in a way, pre-selected. That is, your readers have an interest in every article you include in your newsletter from the beginning. As part of a select group, such as employees, apartment residents, or customers, your readers have an initial acquaintance with your newsletter’s purpose and have already formed a relationship to your publication. Thus, a newspaper headline must be written in a way that allows the reader to decide if this is the type of article he or she might want to read. Your newsletter readers already want to read the articles in your newsletter. Your job when writing a headline is to make them excited and interested in that particular article.

When writing your headline, consider using a brainstorming technique. On a sheet of paper, write down anything that comes to mind when thinking about your article. For an illustration, we will show how to write a headline for an article about pest control for residents of an apartment community.

You may write down things like the following:

  • Bugs
  • Bugs Bunny
  • Bug spray
  • Spray away
  • Getting rid of roaches
  • Insecticide
  • Insect-demise
  • The key to bug control

Continue until all ideas are down on paper. From this list, you may choose one or two ideas that you want to expand upon. For example, from this list, you may choose “bugs.”

Try to use the same technique again, but only on this one word. For example, we may come up with the following:

  • Bug Off
  • Those Little Buggers
  • Bugs Away
  • This Bugs For You
  • Bug Bomb

After choosing which of these you like best, you may consider clarifying your headline with a sub-head. This allows you to use your cleverest headline, while still making your message clear to your readers. For example,

  • Bug Off: Spraying Keeps the Insects Out
  • Those Little Buggers: Getting Rid of Insects in Your Home
  • Bugs Away: Mark Your Calendars for Your Monthly Spraying Day

Having fun with your headlines will make your newsletter more fun to read and will attract the interest of your readers. Use brainstorming techniques to make this process easy. Try to keep your language clear and simple. Sometimes it helps to write several possible headlines down and ask your friends or associates to choose which they like best. With several options, you’ll be sure to pick one that is perfect for your newsletter.

Want to be sure that your headlines look great too? Check out our article on headline capitalization.


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