The “New York Times,” if you subscribe (which you should) sends “Insiders,” people who pay a premium, the occasional special feature.
On Sunday, I got an article called “How to write a New York Times” headline.
I’ve provided the link here. And excerpted and adapted some thoughts below. BTW, if you’re an account person, you may want to share this with any enlightened clients you might have. As they say, it couldn’t hurt.
“I think of it as a puzzle,” Ms. Schneider, copy editor at the “Times” said. “You have to condense the essence of a story into a very finite space, and you’re governed by — well, by a laundry list of rules.”
1. Look for “gifts.” Occasionally a line will come to you. If it does, get out of its way and type it down.
2. Get to the crux of the story but don’t give away the ending.
3. Don’t end a line with a preposition, adjective or article.
4. Don’t use your first line of copy as a headline.
5. Or your last line of copy.
6. Avoid cheap punning. (“Rubber Industry Bounces Back”)
7. Find the right tone for the subject matter.
8. But don’t be stiff or boring.
9. Strive for vivid wording, conversational tone and internal tension. (When two elements of a headline are at odds, it creates a mystery that can be solved by reading further.)
10. Work with accompanying pictures. Make everything work together.