Flash, Bang, Boom: Writing Headlines that Grab your Audience’s Attention

By Kathleen Procek, communications coordinator

Dog Saves Boy from Ditch, Man Walks on Moon – we’ve all seen them before: headlines that catch your attention and make you want to read more. A headline is the first part of any story you read – it’s the big, bold text at the top of a webpage that first grabs your attention. Here are a few tips you can follow to help make your headlines have an instant impact.

Simple language helps you clearly express yourself

The language you use in your headline needs to appeal to your audience. That being said, it shouldn’t be filled with jargon or your favorite SAT words. Using simple language makes sure you get your point across. If your audience can’t understand your headline, they’re not going to be compelled to read on. To the same end, headlines should be fairly short and to the point. A headline is intended to be something that grabs attention and delivers just enough information to summarize the piece while simultaneously making the reader want more.

Write with your audience in mind

Headlines are intended to attract your audience. This means you have to know a bit about them so you can appeal to their interests (if they’re not interested, they won’t read on). When you write for your audience, your content will have a better chance of reaching them and keeping their interest. Writing for them is also important because your headline needs to hook them and provide them with something of value. Readers choose to read content because they are interested in the value it provides them. If they don’t think there’s value, they will move on to something else. With that said, above all else, write headlines with your audience in mind.

Emote – show excitement – take a stand

One of the ways to grab your audience’s attention is to infuse your headline with emotion. Dog Saves Boy from Ditch – clearly this is a headline that pulls on your heartstrings. It’s a story about how man’s best friend saves a boy. Man Walks on Moon – a story about triumph of the human spirit, innovation, determination and opportunity. Infusing your headlines with emotion makes them relatable, which makes your audience more likely to read on.

Today’s reader decides almost instantly whether something is worth their time. Your headlines should engage them and capture their attention, enticing them to click and find out more. It isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible. Following these tips will surely help you move in the right direction.