25 Headline Formulas That Have Plagued and Blessed Web 2.0

web20 headlinesImage by 4_EveR_YounG

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 [Source]
  2. Because headlines and context don’t mix

    ‘Microsoft sucks’, says top blogger [Source]
  3. Is that a threat?

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

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

    3 Painful Ways You Lose Money Every Month [Source]
  2. Bait for the curious

    What’s the scariest fish in the Amazon? Hint: It’s not the Piranha. It’s far, far worse. [Source]
  3. The delayed number + text combo

    Grip Your Readers With These 7 Knock-out Opening Sentences [Source]
  4. The only slightly less loathed/loved ‘written’ number

    Five Tips for Stealthy Facebooking [Source]
  5. The not so secret anymore

    Five Secret Strategies to Add $1 Million in Revenue [Source]
  6. The number + assertion of superiority

Top 10 Wi-Fi Boosts, Tweaks and Apps [Source]

  1. The savvy linkbaiter

45 Excellent Blog Designs [Source]

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

40+ Free Fonts for Professional Design [Source]

  1. The hook, colon, describe

    Quitting the Day Job: Finding the Guts to Pursue Your Dreams [Source]
  2. The sensational claim only a member of the blogerati could make

    The Web 2.0 World is Skunk-Drunk on its Own Kool-Aid [Source]
  3. The splogger’s magnum opus

    Welcome to the World of the Slim People [Source]
  4. The subjective masquerading as objective

    TIME: The Best Photos of 2005 [Source]
  5. The wild promise

    How to Amaze Your Friends and Family With Your Eerily Accurate PsychicReadings [Source]
  6. The search-term as headline

    How to Hack an iPod [Source]
  7. The keyword stuffer

    Monetize Your Blog With These Ways to Make Money Online Monetize Your Blog [Source withheld]
  8. The troubling question

    Are You Prepared for a Blogging Emergency? [Source]
  9. The amateur philosopher

    Two Phrases That Destroyed American Culture [Source]
  10. The harsh call

    Most People Are Depressed For a Very Good Reason [Source]
  11. Google + intrigue = traffic

    Dr. Google Sends Pain Relief [Source]
  12. The mysterious premise

    5 HTML Elements You Probably Never Use (But Perhaps Should) [Source]
  13. The self-improver

    How to Become a Vegetarian, the Easy Way [Source]
  14. The appeal to our fear of failure

    Do You Make These Mistakes When You Write? [Source]