(Originally posted May 17, 2010)
For those of you who have any responsibility for writing headlines for the Web, the New York Times has a must-read column by David Carr on that subject. The basic problem being addressed: You can’t just take a headline that would work perfectly well in a newspaper and push it out to the Web and, by extension, your site’s RSS feed:
“Keep in mind that all of the things that make headlines meaningful in print — photographs, placement and context — are nowhere in sight on the Web. Headlines have become, as Gabriel Snyder, the recently appointed executive editor of Newsweek.com, ‘naked little creatures that have to go out into the world to stand and fight on their own.'”
Headlines for the Web have to be written with search engines in mind. That means short (the programs that search through headlines don’t even read as long as a Twitter post) and to the point, but ideally without taking too much life out of the headline.