25 Headline Formulas That Have Plagued and Blessed Web 2.0 143

Headlines can make or break a story. With thousands of different articles vying for our attention, web users can afford to be picky.

In an ideal world we’d give articles a fighting chance to prove their worth, but in truth, unless we have pre-existing faith in the author, we often make the decision to read or ignore before our eyes have reached the end of the headline.

Web writers have only recently, it seems, started to realize the crucial importance of the headline. The ascendancy of the headline has been one aspect of Web 2.0 culture which hasn’t received the attention it deserves.

This post is a tour of the key web headline formulas being used today. Some will inspire you, others will make you cringe. All of them are sourced from real examples.


1. The destined for Digg

More than half of Americans – 56 per cent – say they’re not proud of the country 

2. Because headlines and context don’t mix

‘Microsoft sucks’, says top blogger 

3. Is that a threat?

Warning: People are Ignoring Advertising. But They do Read News. 

4. The love it or hate it number + text combo

3 Painful Ways You Lose Money Every Month

5. Bait for the curious

What’s the scariest fish in the Amazon? Hint: It’s not the Piranha. It’s far, far worse. 

6. The delayed number + text combo

Grip Your Readers With These 7 Knock-out Opening Sentences 

7. The only slightly less loathed/loved ‘written’ number

Five Tips for Stealthy Facebooking 

8. The not so secret anymore

Five Secret Strategies to Add $1 Million in Revenue 

9. The number + assertion of superiority

Top 10 Wi-Fi Boosts, Tweaks and Apps 

10. The savvy linkbaiter

45 Excellent Blog Designs

11. The resource list you’ll bookmark and never look at again

40+ Free Fonts for Professional Design

12. The hook, colon, describe

Quitting the Day Job: Finding the Guts to Pursue Your Dreams 

13. The sensational claim only a member of the blogerati could make

The Web 2.0 World is Skunk-Drunk on its Own Kool-Aid

14. The splogger’s magnum opus

Welcome to the World of the Slim People

15. The subjective masquerading as objective

TIME: The Best Photos of 2005

16. The wild promise

How to Amaze Your Friends and Family With Your Eerily Accurate Psychic Readings 

17. The search-term as headline

How to Hack an iPod 

18. The keyword stuffer

Monetize Your Blog With These Ways to Make Money Online Monetize Your Blog 

19. The troubling question

Are You Prepared for a Blogging Emergency?

20. The amateur philosopher

Two Phrases That Destroyed American Culture 

21. The harsh call

Most People Are Depressed For a Very Good Reason 

22. Google + intrigue = traffic

Dr. Google Sends Pain Relief 

23. The mysterious premise

5 HTML Elements You Probably Never Use (But Perhaps Should)

24. The self-improver

How to Become a Vegetarian, the Easy Way 

25. The appeal to our fear of failure

Do You Make These Mistakes When You Write?