3 Sweet Tips for Creating Delicious Headlines — Pam Mytroen

ice-cream-sundae-resized-600.jpgCherry on top or the whole sundae?

Jeff Goins, writer, weighs in heavily on the power of a headline:

“So often, the headline is the most neglected part of writing an article. People (writers) just gloss over it without taking much time to consider it. In their minds, it’s the cherry on top. No, Friends. It’s not. The headline is the sundae.”

If your headline doesn’t entice the reader, he will move on to the next article.  Whether your headline is a cherry or a sundae, it should tempt the reader to lick their lips and grab the nearest spoon.

 Sweet tips for delicious headlines:  

1. Feelings  

How does the photo of the sundae make you feel? Like it’s about time you indulged? That you need this? A good headline will elicit a strong feeling from your reader.

Attractive words include who, what, where, when, why, and how. Those key words suggest that you know something and that it will better the reader’s life. This makes the reader feel a need, and he may decide to invest his time in your article. For example:

  • Why Women’s Brains are More Complex. (Okay, okay, I’m feeling your reactions already!) Or…
  • How to Prepare your Home for the Next Big Quake. It sounds like the writer has the inside scoop on not only how to prepare, but when and where the next earthquake will happen. The reader feels a need to learn.

Numbers elicit a response too. For example:

  •  Ten Reasons to Not Text and Drive. Better yet…
  • Ten Ways to Die while Texting and Driving.

2. Funny  

Humorous headlines evoke strong feelings. They’re hard to pass by. Would you like to read these articles? (refer to Hope and Humour blog)

  • Everyone Needs a Kidney Stone 
  • You Can Fix Anything With Duct Tape

How about these?  Make your reader laugh and he will want to spend time with you. (refer to Phil Callaway website)

  • Battle of the Bald
  • Creamed by a Dairy Truck

3. Flavour  

If your headline is a Sundae, what flavour is it? In other words, what is your main idea? Think of your headline as a Menu item in an ice-cream shop. It should not only entice the reader, but also describe the main idea (or flavour) of your article.

Which would you rather read?

  • How Getting the Flu Vaccine will save you, your family, your friends, and neighbors from not only this year’s flu but also from pneumonia and related heart and lung diseases.
  • Get the Flu Vaccine. It Could Save Your Neighbour.

Both headlines describe the main idea, but the second one is more concise. The first headline gives the impression of a long and wordy article.

One summer we took our children to the famous MacKay’s Ice-cream shop in Cochrane, Alberta, where you can choose from over 200 flavours. My daughter chose vanilla. It was just too overwhelming!


  • Your headline is fast food. Don’t overwhelm with too many ideas. One premise is all you want.
  • Headlines are like Sundaes. The flavour (main idea) is stated in the title, they evoke strong feelings, and maybe even suggest that a fun time is to be had.
  • Observe how you read the newspaper or a magazine. Which articles do you read first? Anything to do with the headline?
  • Which articles to do you skip? Is it because the headline does not spark a feeling?

Have fun dreaming up delicious headlines for your articles. Then watch your readers dive in and indulge. But don’t feel too guilty, they’re fat free!


pamela mytroenPamela Mytroen, Freelance Writer
“Every Story Needs a Little Salt”

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