Newspaper and magazine articles use headlines in lieu of the titles found on books, but the importance of a good one is still the same. When attempting to have an article published, an editor spends a scant few seconds on your query before moving on. Make the seconds count by drawing the editor in with an attention-grabbing headline.

  • Headlines are often simple, to-the-point, and tell the reader what the content is about. Newspaper headlines leave out definite and indefinite articles like a, an, and the and use just the subject, verb, object formula, since there is limited room in the paper for the title. For example: “Poor Education Limits Prospects.” The article could then be about the correlation between high school drop-out rates and unemployment rates.
  • Many magazines like to publish “list” articles, so title your work accordingly. For example: “Make your home clutter-free in 6 easy steps.” This makes it easy for readers to understand the content and why they should care.
  • Alliteration (Ex. “Pope Preaches to Poor,”) and unusual angles (“Are Radio Waves Dangerous?”) make memorable headlines.
  • Model your headline after the sort used by the newspaper or magazine you want to publish your work. Conforming to their standards gives them one less reason to say no.

Another place to consider the title you use is on your blog posts. The attention span of the general public seems to be growing shorter and shorter, so it becomes all the more important to use every technique at your disposal to interest them in what you have to say.

  • To bring people to your post to begin with, use a term in the title that people will search for.
  • Keep your title concise and relevant, but interesting enough that readers feel compelled to read your article. For example, for a gardening blog, you could write, “How to Make Your Roses Bloom,” and the reader must finish the post to get the information.
  • Think of a few different blog post titles and run them by others. Ask them which title would most effectively get them to read the post.
  • Craft a title that tells people how your post is going to help them in some way. For example, “How to Get Dinner on the Table in Under 10 Minutes.”
  • Ask people for their thoughts. For a post about a great pizza you had, try a title like, “What goes onto the world’s best pizza?” People will want to see if your best pizza experience matches theirs and will be apt to give their opinions in your comments section.

Whatever works to entice you as a reader will likely work to entice others. If you’d be bored by a title, or entranced by it, so too, would others. Take your time when creating a title, whether it is for a blog post or a magazine or newspaper article, and be sure it makes a good impression, since it is always the first one that counts.

About the author

Rachel Rachel Brownlow is founder and CEO of Your Written Word LLC, a ghostwriting company that helps successful and aspiring business leaders take their ideas from conception to publication. She has written, edited, proofread, consulted and/or created publishing proposals for more than a dozen nonfiction books. She also contributes to a variety of magazines and publications, including the Austin Business Journal, Austin Monthly, NSIDE Magazine and Georgetown View Magazine. You can find more of her work at rachelbrownlow.com/portfolio.