By Barry Feldman published March 27, 2019

The Easy A-to-Z Guide to Writing Great Headlines [Infographic]

As a content marketer, you win the battle for engagement by making your headlines irresistible. Let’s make our way through the alphabet and spell out 26 nuggets bound to help you improve your headline-writing chops.

You also can print the A-to-Z infographic to have a visual reminder of these tips. Thank you to Infobrandz for the great infographic design. (Go directly to the end if you prefer the infographic version.)

Ask

Posing a question, one of the oldest tricks in the book, remains one of the best ways to engage a reader.

Benefits

Features tend to bore readers. Make an emotional appeal by putting benefits in your headline.

Colons

A proven headline approach is to begin with a topical keyword phrase, followed by a colon – or dash – followed by a statement or question.

Do’s and don’ts

A headline using “do” or “don’t” indicates your content is going to advise on what does or doesn’t work for a task your audience needs to accomplish.

Emotion

Decisions are based on emotions. Capitalize on that power using the headline to elicit a feeling or to describe one.

Facts

A well-timed, topical, or provocative fact (or list of them) can be the ultimate hook for your story.

Greats

No matter what you’re writing, you likely can attach “greats” to it – great accomplishments, great leaders, great landmarks in time, etc.

Attach “greats” to your headlines to attract readers, says @feldmancreative. #writingtips Click To Tweet

Help

Help is a universal foundation of content marketing, nonfiction, and so many forms of publishing. Identify how the content will aid the reader or viewer.

Inspiration

Similar to the appeal of emotions, encouragement is well-received by audiences. A great headline may focus on the basic idea “you can do this.”

Jack

“Jack” – as in steal or borrow – is a helpful tool. Craft a headline that borrows interest from a trending story or famous figure discussed in the media.

Keywords

Craft your headlines to include keywords and phrases people use when searching.

Lists

Lists work. Readers instantly know what they’re getting and appreciate how lists bring order to the content topic.

Mistakes

Mistakes, misconceptions, myths … negative headlines have tremendous pulling power.

Negative headlines have tremendous pulling power, says @FeldmanCreative. #writingtips Click To Tweet

Numbers

Add intrigue to your headlines by citing results, time frames, measurements, or anything that can be enumerated.

Opinions

Indicate you’re going to express your opinion – or that of another expert – and you’re likely to woo many readers.

Power words

Revisit your headline looking for soft or vague words that can be replaced with more powerful, energetic, emotional, or descriptive words.

Quotes

Use a quote from a speech, interview, research report, song, movie, or anything you believe makes for a tasty appetizer for the content soon to be served.

Roundups

Headlines for roundups almost write themselves. How many experts? What will they share?

Starting

Getting started tends to be the hardest part of a task. Indicate that your content presents the reader with an effective way to begin that task.

Teasers

The curiosity gap is an age-old and proven headline technique. Simply write a headline that teases the reader into a state of “I must know where this is going.”

Write a headline that teases the reader into a state of “I must know where this is going.” @FeldmanCreative Click To Tweet

Uses

A derivative of the how-to headline, write it to reveal how x can produce y.

Verbs

Start with a verb. Make the verb urgent and interesting. Inject action into your headlines with interesting verbs.

Who, what, when, where, why

Whether your headline is a question or a statement, these five “w” words can help shape an interesting one.

eXamples

eXamples give an exciting way to tee up your content. Showcase a person, group, companies, accomplishments, or any type of relevant example.

You

Your headline can’t call the reader by name, but the word “you” is the next best thing.

Zingers

A zinger is a quip or phrase that comes last. Add zing with a subhed (or place a thought in parentheses).

Write headlines from A to Z

Crafting a great headline is not easy. Using these tips (though not all in the same headline) will attract your readers to your content. Then look at your content analytics to see which of these tips worked better than others for your audience. And repeat those.

Learn tips, tactics, strategy, and more at Content Marketing World Sept. 3-6 in Cleveland, Ohio. Register today using code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Barry Feldman

Barry Feldman is the author of SEO Simplified for Short Attention Spans. Barry operates Feldman Creative and provides content marketing consulting, copywriting, and creative direction services. He contributes to many of the web's top marketing sites and was named one of 25 Social Media Marketing Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn. If you would like a piece of his mind, visit his blog, The Point .

Other posts by Barry Feldman

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