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I have a confession to make: I often struggle with writing headlines. Why? Because the headline is usually the most important thing on the page. If the headline doesn’t work, there’s a good chance that readers will move on without even glancing at the rest of the text. In fact, I can recall more than a few instances in which it took me longer to write a 5-word headline than to write the other 450 words on the page!


A headline is essentially an advertisement for the rest of the piece. And in today’s fast-paced world, a headline has just a few seconds to do its job.

Basic Functions of a Headline

A headline must be compelling enough to capture someone’s attention and entice him or her to keep reading. It also needs to “select” the audience. For example, “Amazing Robotic Snow Blower Clears Driveways in Minutes” will attract a different set of readers than “Stay Cool During the December Heat Wave.” Plus, if you’re writing a print ad, the headline needs to deliver a message, as many people will read the headline and skip the rest.

Questions to Ask Before You Start Writing

For marketing pieces, ask yourself: Who is your customer? What are the benefits of your product? Why will someone want to buy this product?

For articles, think about: Who is the reader? What information are you trying to convey in this article? What is the benefit of this information to the reader?

Common Headline Techniques

Here are examples of 10 different ways to approach the same subject matter:

  1. Ask a question – “What Makes Marketing Copy Effective?”

  2. Make a statement – “Effective Copywriting that Gets Results. Guaranteed”

  3. Use a number – “The 5 Keys to Effective Copywriting”

  4. Tell “how to” – “How to Write Marketing Copy that Gets Results”

  5. Reveal “secret” information – “Secrets of Effective Copywriting Revealed”

  6. Use the word “free” – “Free Report: The Secrets of Effective Copywriting”

  7. Create urgency – “Respond by March 31 to Learn the Secrets of Effective Copywriting”

  8. Tell people what to do – “Ensure Your Marketing Copy is Effective”

  9. Present the “news” angle – “New Technique for Effective Copywriting Increases Response by 200%”

  10. Give the “best” or “worst” – “Top Tricks for Effective Copywriting” OR “Avoid These Common Copywriting Blunders”

What Others Are Saying

"Each time I work with Linda, I am reminded just how well she understands marketing. Linda understands the principles of marketing on a psychological level. She sees the bigger picture. She is pragmatic, insightful and incredibly fast."

Kristine Putt,
Owner and Brand Identity Designer, Paragon Moon