How To Write A Headline For Online Articles
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7 Ways To Write A Headline Readers Can’t Ignore

How to grab your audience's attention with something simple and descriptive.

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7 Ways To Write A Headline Readers Can’t Ignore

A good headline can be the difference between a person scrolling past your article or stopping to read it. People will decide whether they want to read an article in as few as 1.5 seconds, so having an eye-catching, strongly worded, easy to understand headline is very important.

When writing headlines, make sure you are...

1. Writing a headline, not a title.

Think about some books you may have read in school: "The Catcher In The Rye," "Of Mice And Men," "To Kill A Mockingbird." What do these titles tell you about each book's story? Nothing, because they are titles. Works of fiction have titles that can carry artistic meaning, but articles on Odyssey should have headlines that are descriptive and tell you exactly what the article is about.

If a potential reader can't tell what the article is about just from the headline, they will not click on the article. The reader should be able to answer this question as soon as they see it: "Is this relevant to me?"

2. Being descriptive.

Don't write things like "An Open Letter To My Mom." This is vague and doesn't tell people what you will be saying to your mother. Instead, something like "Things I Learned From Mom When She Thought I Wasn't Looking" or "17 Thank-Yous For The Mom I Never Thank Enough" or "To The Mother Who Chose Drugs Over Me."

These all tell readers exactly what kind of article you have written and people interested in those topics will know that is the article they need to click on.

Try reading just the headline out loud. Does it tell you all the important parts of the article just on its own? If not, revise!

3. Putting your opinion in the headline.

Never make headlines formatted like this: "My Response To...," "My Opinion On...," "What I Think About About..." Headlines like this force readers to click through to find out what the article is actually about, and people don't like doing that.

Tell them upfront what they can expect in your article, so they can decide if they agree or disagree with you. People love reading (and sharing) things they agree with, and things they disagree with.

Can somebody tell what stance you're taking just from the headline? They should be able to!

4. Adding your identity or identities.

People will click on articles when they see an identity or belief that they have jump out at them. Think about identities, traits, experiences, values, and places (hometown, college, etc.) that you've included in your article; those will all pop out to other people who share those identities — and they will be more likely to want to read your article.

5. Using active language.

Actively targeting your article to certain identities or groups is also important. Use phrases like "To [Identity Group]..." "I'm The Girl/Guy Who..." "XX Signs You're The Person Who..." "What It's Like Being A [Identity]..."

When you use words like "you," "me," "our," "we," or "I'm," you are directly engaging a potential reader in a human way. Readers come to Odyssey to connect with people.

Examples:

From The Child Of A Drug-Addicted Parent

11 Signs You're An Australian Shepherd Owner

No, I Don't Have To Tell You I'm Trans Before Dating You

Being A Millennial Republican Means Being Oppressed

6. Not writing "clickbait."

Facebook will actively hide any articles that are written in a "clickbait" style. Avoid headlines like "You Won't Believe What Happened When..." "These XX Things Will Make Your Life Better" "The XX Things All Successful People Do..." "This Thing Happened And What Happens Next Will Amaze You"

Facebook's posting guidelines say that "Pages should avoid headlines that withhold information required to understand the content of the article and headlines that exaggerate the article to create misleading expectations."

Just be honest about who you are, what you are saying, and who should be interested in it.

7. Using numbers.

If your article can be segmented into a numbered format, go for it. Numbers draw the eye, especially odd numbers and prime number (which is why this list has 7 bullet points). If you are writing a listicle, try to use at least 17 points. Good numbers to aim for are 17, 23, 27, 31, 37, 45, 53, 57, 75, and 101.

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