Credit: Obi Onyeador on Unsplash

We could have given this article a headline like "Write the most beautiful headlines that allow you to showcase your journalistic wit" or "Headlines that will save you from breadlines". But we did not. The reason is that online publishing requires headlines that are concise, clear and conversational.

Gone are the days of print, when the "puniest" headline was the best one. The reason is that search engines like Google do not have a sense of humour and they also do not understand double meanings, jokes and long sentences. As a consequence, readers will have a harder time discovering your work, which makes everyone miss out.

To help you wean yourself off puns and journalese in headline-writing, Holly J. Morris from the NPR training team has pooled her colleagues and summed up their wisdom in this article. The advice is broken down into tips for display headlines and search engine optimisation (SEO) headlines, which helps you make the right decision in every stage of writing and publishing your work.

Our favourite tips include say why it matters; focus on people, not policy; and say it out loud.

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