Journalism: Headline Writing

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Journalism: Headline Writing

Chapter 9

To be successful, a headline must relate to the story, lead the reader into the story, fit the allotted space, and be grammatically correct.

Before you write your headline, have an idea in mind as to how much space you have. For example, if you know that in 20 point Garamond you get an average of 5 characters per inch, it would be simple to write a headline with approximately 20 characters for a four inch space.
Feature Headlines: usually three words or more in length but do not have a subject or verb.
Example: Dollars for Scholars (article on scholarships)

Example: Cafeteria Blues (article on rule changes in cafeteria)

Example: Politics on parade (article on parade that featured


Hanging Indention: has at least three lines, second and third line indented.
Example: Teachers Need

Bigger Increase

In Wage Package

Cross Line: a single line of type filling the column or space.
Example: (notice width)
Wage increase breeds discontent

Inverted Pyramid: The first line fills in the entire column, then uses less space as it gets to the bottom.
Example: Two Spanish classes

to host festivals

for community

in evenings

Drop Line: two or more lines, with each succeeding line indented on the left by one em.

Example: Strokers to host

state champion

in home battle

Centered Headline: this type of headline is centered above the column.

Deck: a second headline under the first, smaller in size.

Example: Pioneers down Lancers, 3-0,

in muddy, defensive battle

before standing-room crowd

Win Clinches district berth
Kicker, also known as a tag line, is a line that introduces the headline, can be underlined for emphasis.
Example: Cold weather hits…
Temperature drops

below freezing

Hammer head: opposite of kicker.
Example: Drowning in “Purple Rain”

Storm delays Prince’s concert at Arena

Sidesaddle heads: places the head to the left of the story, rather than above.
Example: Turkey Day: Pioneers regain Bell

Sometimes it may be necessary to use a sentence headline as well to help explain the feature.

Rules for Writing Sentence Headlines:

  1. Strive to make each one an attention grabber.

  1. Make sure each head fills the space allotted.

  1. Avoid repetition of words or phrases.

  1. Use single rather than double quotation marks.

  1. Use a comma to replace the word and.

  1. Avoid using a semicolon in a one line head.

Example: Principal makes presentation;

discusses attendance policy

  1. Editorial: Opinion should be obvious in headline

  1. Avoid beginning headline with a verb.

Rules for Writing Sentence Headlines Cont.

  1. Use only well known abbreviations. (YMCA, NBA, NFL)

  1. Don’t begin headline with a number (spell out)

  1. Avoid Clichés!

  1. Use information from your lead when writing a headline for a feature story.

  1. Use active voice.

  1. Use full names unless the person is well known.

Journalism: Headline Writing

Ch. 9

Directions: Find and cut out an example of each of the following headlines. You may have to cut out part of the story to show emphasis on that particular headline. For example, in order to notice the centered headline, you must cut out the beginning of the story to show how it lines up.

Feature Headline
Hanging Indention
Cross Line
Inverted Pyramid
Drop Line
Centered Headline

After each headline is cut out, paste them to a piece of poster board labeling each headline.

Points available: 50

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