Writing An Effective
Farewell 43 Title or Headline

A good headline or title grabs a readers attention and informs them about the content of what follows. It is what people see first and how your message will be identified and recognized. Often the title is the only criteria a reader uses in choosing whether or not to read your message and so is especially important.

If you have never written a headline or title before, don’t fret. Often a key phrase or thought in your message that can be turned into your title. There’s no need to be too fancy if you are not inclined to be. Of course if you are so inclined, by all means knock yourself out.

The purpose of a title is to convey the main idea of your message so that if all I read is your title, I will still know what your message is about. Sometimes this is best accomplished through using a straight line (what I refer to as a title) and other times through using a punch line or clever turn of phrase (what I refer to as a headline).

Which one of these is the best choice depends on you, your personality, and your message. But whichever one you choose, it is always best to keep your title or headline short and snappy.

To continue with our previous fictional example (at least we hope it stays fictional), if our message is all about the many nice blue suits Mr, Bush has worn over the past eight years, my title might simply be,

“Nice Suits!”

It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Just communicative. Reading this title I know what to expect in the message.

Of course you are absolutely welcome to have some fun too. If so inclined, your title could also be,

“Nice Suits! Did My Tax Dollars Pay For Those?”, or

“If The Suit Fits Wear It”,

Whatever works for you. It’s your message. They’re your thoughts. You get to decide. But notice how each variation leads one to anticipate different message content.

One final thought about headline or title length. Less is more. Best practice is to keep headlines short and snappy, 10 – 12 words max. Use only what is needed. See how few words you can use to get your idea across. Got Milk?

Remember, it is a headline, not a paragraph. And as always, have fun with it.

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