Learn to write headlines at the grocery store!

Glamour MagazineYou can read books, attend seminars, and study famous ads to learn how to write headlines.

Or you can just go to the grocery store.

Standing in the checkout line, you will see some of the best examples of headline writing on the covers of popular magazines. Why? Because these publishers know that to sell magazines, they have to capture your attention fast. So the top magazines have become very, very good at writing headlines.

Now for the record, I don’t read these magazines. But my wife does. And she squirrels them away all over the house. So I have a massive collection to dive into when I’m looking for some inspiration.

Here are some good examples from two Glamour magazine covers:

PSSST! Why guys love your body exactly as is – Read their head-to-toe lust list on p. 220


Find your best birth control – Intimate advice you’ll never hear from your doctor

Men’s new sexual needs – Thanks for sharing, guys!


Major beauty miracles! All the skin and hair secrets you’ve been begging us for

10 things no woman should feel guilty about

Most of these are “fascinations,” a type of headline that acts as a teaser. Each headline promises interesting information, but reveals nothing about the content. Notice the specifics, alliteration, and rhythm.

Also notice the double whammy of headlines such as “Major beauty miracles! All the skin and hair secrets you’ve been begging us for.” This is typeset as a two-part headline, the first part to grab your attention and the second part to give you more detail.

Not all headlines should be written like this. There are many other approaches. But when you’re looking for ideas and inspiration, go shopping. Major magazine editors have turned provocative headline writing into an art form.

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One Response to “Learn to write headlines at the grocery store!”

  1. Andy on November 30th, 2008 8:47 pm

    Headlines are so key in the online world where you have less than a second to grab a readers intention. The key is balancing, SEO elments, Eye-catching titles and keep it relevant to the story. Always a work in progress at my site.

    Great to discover your blog (from copyblogger) and adding you to my RSS.

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