Top Copywriting Headlines Tips
Writing headlines is an acquired skill. These practical copywriting
headlines tips can help you not only write better headlines but also create
Tips to get started writing headlines
Try one or all of these tips to get your headline juices
- One stumbling block to writing a piece’s headline is simply
getting started. Here’s how to side step that problem: instead of writing the
headline first, jump in and work on the piece. Once you have all or part of
your ideas on paper, go back and write a few headlines.
- Or try this method: write a few headlines before you start
writing the piece, as a way to guide you through putting together the content.
Write a few headlines during the process. Write a few after you’re done. Soon
you’ll discover which approach is best for you – before, during, or after.
- Check out these 10 words to use when writing headlines to jumpstart your writing.
Tips for what content to use in headlines
- Identify the main idea of the piece. Create a headline
- Identify your main keyword. Use it – or a word that is
closely related – in the headline.
- Write plenty of headlines for just one piece. Give yourself
a selection of headlines to re-work, edit, and choose from.
- Try different headline formulas. They work.
- Put yourself in the shoes of the reader. What will pull her
into your piece? Write a headline to suit her.
- Be as specific as possible. (Generalized headlines are
Tips for headline mechanics
- Capitalize the first word in your headline.
- Keep it simple. Write headlines at a grade 7 reading level
or less. Use your word processor’s readability statistics function to check
your headline’s reading level.
- Use more verbs and fewer nouns.
- Use short, active verbs: kill, jump, shout
- Avoid forms of the verb "to be" (is, are, was, and
- Write headlines in present tense (“Johnson wins in Ventura”).
- Avoid writing in first person (I, me), unless using a quote.
- Avoid puns and fancy wording, which often confuse or mislead
Tips for refining your headline
Use this checklist of copywriting headlines tips to evaluate
and re-work your material.
- Does the headline grab attention or incite curiosity?
- Does the headline address something specific?
- Does the headline offer useful information or a benefit to
- If the headline makes a promise, does the content that
follows deliver on that promise?
- Is it true? (Readers hate being lied to.)
- Does the headline convey urgency, moving the reader to take
action or motivate them to want to know more right away?
- Does the headline convey uniqueness? (Boring headlines mean
your piece won’t get read.)
- Is the headline clear and direct – avoiding pun, elaborate
wording, or double-entendre?
- Does the headline use strong, interesting, active verbs?
- Is the headline’s length appropriate for the medium
(article, email campaign, web page, direct mail package, social media post, and
If you answer “no” to one or more of these questions, go
back and rewrite your headline.
Check out How to Write Better Headlines, a quick, low-cost writing course by Nick Usborne. It's a super-fast (and super-affordable) way to build your headline-writing skills.
See more tips on our Writing Headlines Pinterest board.
More about copywriting headlines
Basics for copywriting headlines ...
5 proven headline formulas ...
10 words to use when writing headlines ...
Does your headline do its job?
5-Point checklist to use when you write a headline ...
The 4 U's for writing powerful headlines ...
6 secrets to effective subheads ...
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