Headline Formulas In News Writing

Headline Formulas In News Writing

In the fast-paced world of news writing, headlines play a pivotal role in grabbing the attention of readers and enticing them to delve deeper into the story. A well-crafted headline can be the difference between a captivating piece that goes viral and one that gets lost in the vast sea of information. To achieve this, news writers rely on a variety of headline formulas that have proven to be effective in captivating readers. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the various headline formulas used in news writing, their structure, and the psychology behind their effectiveness.

1. The Classic Formula:

The classic formula is one of the most widely used headline structures in news writing. It consists of a concise summary of the main story that is both informative and intriguing. This formula typically includes the who, what, where, when, and why of the story, providing readers with a snapshot of the most crucial details. For example, “Local Hero Saves Town from Devastating Fire.”

2. The Listicle Formula:

Listicles have gained immense popularity in recent years due to their ability to present information in an easily digestible format. This headline formula often begins with a number, promising readers a specific and quantifiable set of information. For instance, “10 Essential Tips for Successful Gardening.”

3. The Question Formula:

As humans, we are naturally curious creatures, and headlines that pose questions tap into this inherent curiosity. The question formula piques readers’ interest by presenting a problem or query that they may have. For example, “Is Your Smartphone Ruining Your Sleep?”

4. The How-To Formula:

The how-to formula appeals to readers’ desire for self-improvement and acquiring new skills. This headline structure promises a step-by-step guide to achieving a specific outcome. For instance, “How to Master the Art of Public Speaking.”

5. The Shock Factor Formula:

This headline formula relies on the element of surprise or shock to grab readers’ attention. It often involves unexpected or controversial information that challenges conventional wisdom. For example, “Scientific Study Reveals Chocolate is Good for Weight Loss.”

6. The Exclusive Formula:

Humans have a natural inclination towards exclusivity and being privy to information that others may not have. The exclusive formula leverages this desire by promising readers access to unique or insider information. For example, “Exclusive Interview with Hollywood’s Biggest Star.”

7. The Urgency Formula:

The urgency formula capitalizes on readers’ fear of missing out (FOMO). It utilizes time-sensitive language to create a sense of urgency, compelling readers to act immediately. For instance, “Breaking News: Limited Tickets Remaining for the Concert of the Year.”

8. The Curiosity Gap Formula:

The curiosity gap formula highlights a gap in knowledge or information, creating a sense of intrigue and compelling readers to click and satisfy their curiosity. This formula often leaves out a critical piece of information that readers can only acquire by reading the full article. For example, “The Secret Ingredient in Your Kitchen That Could Save Your Life.”

9. The Comparison Formula:

Humans are wired to compare and seek out the best options. The comparison formula plays into this natural inclination by pitting two ideas or concepts against each other, enticing readers to choose a side. For instance, “Cats vs. Dogs: Which Makes the Better Pet?”

10. The Personal Story Formula:

People are drawn to personal narratives as they evoke emotions and create a connection between the reader and the subject. The personal story formula presents a real-life account or anecdote that resonates with readers on a human level. For example, “How One Woman’s Journey of Overcoming Adversity Inspires Millions.”


Crafting captivating and effective headlines is an art form that news writers must master to engage readers in an increasingly competitive digital landscape. By understanding and utilizing various headline formulas, such as the classic formula, listicle formula, question formula, how-to formula, shock factor formula, exclusive formula, urgency formula, curiosity gap formula, comparison formula, and personal story formula, news writers can create headlines that captivate, inform, and ultimately drive readers to explore the full story. In an era where attention spans are short and information overload is abundant, mastering the art of headline writing is essential for news writers to ensure their stories shine amidst the noise.

Previous post How to Automate Remote Online Notarization
Citation Practices In News Articles Next post Citation Practices In News Articles