Write Better Feature Headlines

Article 2 min
Explore these tips to get your audience's attention by improving your headlines!

An engaging feature headline is essential to get the attention of your audience and effectively communicate your message. Headlines are your reader's first taste of your article. Carefully crafted headlines inform and entice a reader in just a few words. The majority of people use headlines to decide whether or not to read an article. Headlines draw readers in and get them to commit time to read the article.

On average, five times as many people read the headlines as read the body copy. David Ogilvy, Advertising Tycoon

red warning icon with exclamation pointNote: Feature headlines can tease the story in a clever or interesting way depending on the story's tone, but must follow the same rules of verb selection and punctuation. When writing straight news headlines, use theHeadline Writing Guide checklist.

Explore each of the essential tips below to help you improve your feature headline. Make an effort to include two or three of these attributes in every headline to help compel your audience to not only click on your article, but to read the whole thing through.

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be Unique

A unique headline stands out from the rest and grabs the audience's attention.

  • Use interesting adjectives to add emotion.
  • Give enough information to pique curiosity.
    • Boring Example: It's Hurricane Preparedness Week. Here's a list of essential supplies
    • Interesting Example: Bandages, batteries and boredom busters for kids: Hurricane essentials to grab before the storm


If specific details are available, use them in the headline.

  • Use names when they are prominent. Titles are not required unless they help identify the personality.
  • Use acronyms and abbreviations if they’re widely used and unavoidable. Avoid alphabet soup.
    • Clear Example: Obama selects new CG for Fort Meade
    • Unclear Example: USMES team featured at the tourney
    • Alphabet Soup: DoD OKs AF B-1

Convey Urgency

Whenever it's appropriate and necessary, a headline should convey a sense of urgency to encourage people to read the entire thing. But remember, above all else, military communicators must be truthful. We don't want to convey a sense of urgency if there is none. It's important to avoid veering into clickbait territory.

  • Consider appending the word 'now' or 'today' at the end of it.
    • Urgent Example: 5 things to do now before a crisis
    • Relaxed Example: 5 tips to help prepare for a crisis

Be Useful

A well-written headline is designed to inform the audience, not entertain them.

  • Summarize the story in one sentence.
  • Deliver the facts accurately.
  • Include the appropriate keywords for search engine optimization (SEO) to improve the likelihood that readers will find your story while searching the web.
    • Helpful Example: Coast Guard seizes ship in Miami coast drug raid
    • Unhelpful Example: DoD uses 3D printers

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