How to write effective online news headlines like the BBC

Posted on April 27, 2009 By pramitsingh Topic: Media, Onlinejournalismhandbook, Howto

Usability expert Jacon Nielsen recently went through the BBC news website and finds that the top 6 news headlines together are only 38 words long:

* Italy buries first quake victims
* Romania blamed over Moldova riots
* Ten arrested in UK anti-terrorism raids
* Villagers hurt in West Bank clash
* Mass Thai protest over leadership
* Iran accuses journalist of spying

Why is the BBC so correct and lean with its headline, telling the whole story in as many words as possible, through the headline itself? Nielsen attributes it to the BBC's origins as a radio braodcaster where you had to grab the listener's attention as quickly as possible.Nilesen outlines five qualities of best news headlines:

1. Short
2. Clearly summarizing the story
3. Mentioning important key words as early as possible
4. Headlines must explain the story understandable out of context (because headlines often appear without articles, as in search engine
5. Headlines must explain what users will find in the story if they click on


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