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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.)


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


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


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.


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


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


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 Share on X


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.


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” – 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.


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


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


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

Negative headlines have tremendous pulling power, says @FeldmanCreative. #writingtips Share on X


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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 Share on X


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


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


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


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.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute