In just about all forms of writing, the use of headings and headlines is both highly beneficial and essential. For online writing in particular, killer headlines and headings are the much-needed hooks that reel the more elusive scanner reader in. In academic and research works they also provide structure and cohesion, in addition to a quick outline of the document’s content.
Whatever you’re writing, the inclusion of headings and headlines that are well thought out and purposefully written will more likely attract a healthy readership. In marketing materials, I’d go as far as to say they are as important as the main content – engaging headlines are a lynchpin in any marketing campaign.
So here are several heading and headline pointers to keep in mind when you’re next writing corporate, academic or marketing materials.
Spend time composing main headings or headlines. This is often the first part of your writing the reader will see, so make sure it’s concise and informative. Across most writing genres, it should be all-encompassing of what you’re writing about (creative fiction is probably the exception). In an online context, including keywords is also highly relevant for search engine optimisation.
Treat headings and headlines like signposts. Some written pieces need to be lengthy to convey all the relevant info, but don’t let this intimidate and put readers off. Using subheadings across the piece helps readers to quickly navigate to specific information they’re after, and may also encourage them to read further than they’d planned.
Heading and headline summaries work best. Excepting some academic or scientific writing with heading specifications, it’s better to write your headings and headlines like mini-summaries (personalised for online). For instance, ‘Why we put this together’ will probably appeal more to the everyday reader than a standard one-word heading like ‘Background’. This is again particularly relevant to online writing.
Don’t overdo formatting of headings and headlines. I know it can be fun jazzing up your writing’s headings and headlines with formatting tools like bold, shadowing and fancy fonts, but be careful not to overdo it. You don’t want the style of your headings to detract from the content of what’s being said.
So no matter what context you’re writing in, headings and headlines are imperative to attracting and maintaining a readership. They also add appeal and an extra layer of professionalism to your work. Really taking the time to plan out your document’s headings and headlines can only have an all-round positive impact.
Walton’s Words thrives on enhancing all forms of writing to draw in and satisfy readers, including via the addition of headings and headlines. Drop us a line or give us a call if you’d like to discuss your writing plans further.