7 types of headline mistakes to avoid

Clever or compelling, the synopsis on a news or feature story must follow certain rules to impart the text’s overriding theme or key point(s). Too often, sloppiness kills this messenger.

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Throughout the history of journalism, headlines have evolved as a method for distilling the content of an article into a handful of words that will draw readers into the piece, and they serve that function for other types of informative content, such as newsletters and reports.

However, in publications that are not carefully edited, especially on post-it-right-now websites, headlines can invite the wrong kind of curiosity, combined with confusion or derision, when they’re published with errors.

This post examines various types of common mistakes:

1. Poor grammar

This subheadline, under a headline about cell phone antennas, starts with a dangling modifier: “Numbering Over 2,400 in City Alone, Neighborhoods Say ‘Enough Is Enough.'” (The sentence construction implies that the figure refers to the number of neighborhoods.) The subject should be repeated (preferably, with elegant variation), and the quote must be preceded by a comma: “Towers Number 2,400 in the City Alone, and Neighborhoods Say, ‘Enough Is Enough.'”

2. Awkward syntax

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