Did This Headline Grab Your Attention?

Wednesday night I started teaching my first class, "Writing for Online Media."  Despite what I can only describe as "opening night jitters," (you know I always have to make an acting -- or a baseball -- analogy), I think it went very well.  The students seem like a very enthusuastic and creative bunch.  I look forward to an exciting semester -- I'm sure they'll manage to teach me more than I can hope to teach them. 

One of the points I touched upon during the introductory class was the importance of a good title, both for your blog and for the individual blog entries.  Headlines, just like the ones in print newspapers and magazines, are the calling cards for your essays.  They are what people see in blog rolls and as entries in RSS feeds.  A good headline needs to entice the reader and make him or her click through to your full article.  It shouldn't mislead -- bait and switch tactics (making readers expect one thing only to discover something else) is a sure way to annoy an audience and make them view you as the "Boy Who Cried Wolf," causing them to doubt you in the future, or outright avoid reading any of your future writing.

The key rule is to keep it simple.  Don't make your titles too difficult to comprehend.  A good headline should be clear, giving you enough information in a few words, about what to expect.  It can be witty and clever, a joke or a pun.  Or it can be mysterious, in a good way, raising the curiousity of your readers so they are motivated to click through and learn more.

A headline-question is also another good way to gain attention.  Some people will no doubt be tempted to read your blog entry to either find the answer to the question you raise or to offer their own answers. 

Sometimes, unimaginative, dull, but matter-of-fact headlines can still be effective.  If I wrote a blog entry listing my favorite pizzerias, it might be best just to title that entry, "The 10 Best Pizzerias in the Bronx."  Short, sweet, and to the point -- you won't win any points for most original headline, but it does the job.

So, did my headline grab your attention?


Anonymous said…

Congratulations on getting through your first day. I'm sure you were great.

Peter said…
You teach too? That's terrific. It's always a good thing to impart knowledge, especially to an impressionable crowd representing the next generation of hopefully...more responsible and ethical journalists...