Writing Tips by Gary Speer

Tips for writers, musing about writing and life

How do you come up with titles for your writing?

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I would love you to give us some feedback on the title question in my, uh, title.

For just over seven years, I worked as a newspaper copy editor. Any of you out there who are copy editors, particularly at a newspaper or magazine? If so, you know that the number one activity filling your deadlines is writing headlines. Headlines are nothing but titles for news stories.

Outside the newspaper/magazine world — and even in some parts of that world — the most often used of the two terms is probably “title.”

The two most important “rules” I can pass along for writing titles and headlines would be these:

1. Strive to communicate clearly in your title or headline. If you say little or nothing in your title that relates to the writing itself, why will anyone try to read what you’ve written? The fundamental purpose of writing is to communicate. Everything you write, especially titles or headlines, must build on that.

2. Try to “hook” the reader with something clever or distinctive in your title or headline. And herein lies the fine line you must walk: If you’re too clever or witty trying to write a “hook” in the title or headline, you confuse or turn off the reader. It’s a balance. Not every title you write should be straightforward and “news” style. Some should be “feature” style with a hook that’ll grab your reader.

So what are your tips for writing titles? Pass them along for us in a comment on this post. Thanks.
[tags]writing titles and headlines, writing to communicate, writing tips at garyspeer.com[/tags]

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