On writing headlines and subject lines

February 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

By Callum Smith: https://sites.google.com/site/callumsmithwebsitecopywriting/

Headlines on RSS aggregators and email in-boxes are difficult to scan because their subjects — usually company or product names — don’t stand out; too often, all headlines’ words begin with Capitals.

To clearly distinguish headlines’ subjects, to understand from a glance the gist of a headline, a clear distinction between the subject (company/product name) and the rest of the headline must be made. Here’s some basics on how (digital) headlines should appear:

  • Bolded
  • First word of headline is capitalized
  • Only names and abbreviations are capitalized
  • English grammar rules of capitalization apply

The subject is terribly important and must stand out in order to be immediately understood when scanned.

First 2 headlines from my Google Reader aggregator (above) should appear as follows:

  • Interview with Qwest security expert Bob Schroeder – Bob Schroeder…
  • Can online sharing stats predict the Oscars? – When it comes to …

This should make your e-mail and news-reader headlines more attractive because they will be faster and easier for the eye to process, as well as being different from the rest.

Computer-screen language has been evolving since the first programmers communicated amongst each other via computer-mediated communication, using IM lingo abbreviations, emoticons, etc…, and digital headlines today are no exception.

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