Rules on Headline Writing

1. Answer as many W’s as possible in the headline without making the headline appear kilometric.

2. The headline should not state something that is not included in the story.

3. Positive heads are preferable than negative ones.


a. P’sinan team unable to win over NCR rookies (Negative)

b. NCR wins over P’sinan team (Positive)

4. Use a verb, expressed or implied, in main heads and subheads.

5. The active verb is preferred to passive verb, except in the instance that the event is more important than the doer.


a. GMA opens Palaro 2010 (active verb)

b. Agro-industrial fair opened (passive verb)

6. Delete article like a, an, the, and all forms of verbs of being.

7. Use the present tense even for past stories, and the infinite form for future events.


a. Region I hosts Palaro 2010

b. South Cotabato to host Palaro 2010

8. Write numbers in figures or spell them out depending upon the alloted space for headlines.

9. Use the comma (,), the punctuation mark, instead of the conjunction and in headlines.

10. Write the position of a general word to identify a person, place, or thing that is not popular or common.


a. Mario dela Cruz digs gold in backyard. (person is an ordinary farmer)

b. Farmer digs gold in backyard (rewritten)


1. Fat head — letters or words that are fat are so crowded that there are no more spaced between them.

2. Thin head — has wide spaces between letters or words


N  S  P  C    v  i  c  t  o  r  s    f  e  t  e  d

3. Label head — not considered a headline but merely a title or label.


Campus journalism

4. Wooden head — does not follow the S-V-O pattern (Subject-Verb-Object); considered a weak headline because of the absence of a subject or a verb.


To conduct meeting

5. Screaming head — headline of big and bold letters but story is very short and even unimportant. Headlines or some sensational papers are screaming.

6. Mandatory head — a headline that seems to command readers for it starts with a verb.


Conduct seminar on headline writing

7. Hanging preposition — in a headline, the preposition and its object should not be separated.


MNHS holds seminar on headline writing


MNHS holds seminar on headline writing

8. Coined words — uncommon acronyms and abbreviations

Send to Kindle
More from News Writing
Back to Top