There’s no real formula for great headlines, although most good headlines share some common elements.
For news headlines, verbs provide the punch.
The best feature headlines, though, offer a hint of intrigue or a dash of the unexpected, all in a subtle mixture of word play.
This one from Sunday’s New York Times drew me to an article I had no intention of reading, and the more I studied it, the more I appreciated it.
The main headline uses the familiar movie industry line about ratings (intrigue). The deck hints at the controversy over cigarettes in movies and ends – bam! – with an OMG! That OMG! fits perfectly with the movie ratings that precede it but comes in unexpectedly (and deliciously).
It got me. I read to the end of the story.
In a media landscape filled with cheap puns, high-quality writing truly stands out.