There are only three types of headlines

Just reading a piece by David Sloly where he talks about there being only three types of headlines:

  1. The promise headline
  2. The intrigue headline
  3. The news headline

The promise headline gives you a clear indication of what you will get.

The intrigue headline draws you in with a suggestion you can’t resist.

The news headline will be about something new and interesting.

Is this true?

Looking at the BBC website, here are a selection of headlines with a stab at categorising them.

  • Model guilty of killing millionaire ex-boyfriend [Intrigue]/[News]
  • England v Sri Lanka: Second Test, day one [News]
  • Is this the most racist advert ever made? [Intrigue]
  • Obama: Hiroshima memory must not fade [News]
  • EU campaign’s ‘misleading voters’ [Intrigue]
  • Tarot reader tells of murder confession [Intrigue]
  • Injured Nadal pulls out of French Open [News]
  • How good is this? China’s solution for traffic jams [Intrigue]
  • Seven awkward music falls at major sporting events [Promise]
  • 14 amazing gifts Guyana has given the world [Promise]

The last two are a little harder to push into a category. The promise is of a list – falls at sporting events, amazing gifts. These two are not news, and they are not intriguing – or in any case less intriguing than some other examples.

You could use the mnemonic PIN to remember these three ways of writing headlines: Promise, Intrigue and News.

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