Newspaper headlines in print can be quickly associated and placed in context along with surrounding images, graphics and sub-headings. But frequently online only headlines are are seen initially, meaning their composition is a key to that stories popularity.
The same is true of headlines on newspaper websites or blogs. Headlines need to be sharp, informative and visually strong. Clever play-on-words or sweeping emotive language will distract the reader.
Newspaper headlines in print can be quickly associated and placed in context along with surrounding images, graphics and sub-headings. But online sometimes only headings or headlines are are seen initially, for instance in search engine results or news aggregator sites, meaning their composition is a key to that stories popularity.
Traditional print writing style inverts this informative pyramid style, teasing the reader with emotive language and sparse yet intriguing imagery. But online it has to work the other way. Readers will rarely read long passages on screen, so the most newsworthy facts need to sit in the first three to four paragraphs.
The BBC do this for their news, where the first four paragraphs you read on the BBC News website will also be displayed on Ceefax. An example of reusing content without having to repackage it.
At one point during the film's [Snakes on a Plane] development, New Line altered the title to "Pacific Air Flight 121". Only Samuel L. Jackson's intervention prevented this disastrously-bland alternative from taking hold. In an interview at the start of the year, Jackson explained "I got on the set one day and heard they changed it, and I said, 'What are you doing here?'...They were afraid it gave too much away, and I said, "That's exactly what you should do. When audiences hear it, they say, 'We are there!'"
When users read the titles on your website, do they say the same?
Taken from the Etre.com newsletter #010 - August 2006.