The Headline Formula: 5 Tips for Writing Headlines That Work

05 Jul, 2023

The Headline Formula: 5 Tips for Writing Headlines That Work

Hey there headline writer, have you been struggling to come up with catchy headlines that actually drive clicks and traffic? Writing effective headlines is an art form, but the good news is there are some tried-and-true formulas you can use.

In this article, I’m going to share six of the best headline formulas that have been proven to work.

Whether you’re writing for a blog, email newsletter, social media, or any other medium, these tips will help you craft headlines that make people stop scrolling and actually read your content.

Get ready to seriously up your headline game.

1. Keep your headline Short and Simple

Everyone wants an attention-grabbing headline, but coming up with one that's short, sweet, and high-performing isn't always easy. Here are some tips to help you craft headlines that work:

  • Keep it under 65 characters. Shorter headlines tend to get more clicks. Anything over 65 characters risks being cut off in search results or being too wordy.
  • Focus on benefits. Tell readers what's in it for them. For example, "5 Ways to Improve Your Memory in 30 Days" or "How I Saved $500 on My Vacation". People want to know what they'll gain or learn.
  • Use power words. Words like "secrets", "tips", "ideas", "lessons", "facts" or "steps" create an enticing headline. Other power words include "you", "your", "free", "simple" or "easy".
  • Pose a question. Headlines that ask an interesting question, like "What Is the Best Time to Exercise?" or "Are You Making This Common Mistake with Your Diet?" engage readers. They want to click to find the answer.
  • Include numbers. Headlines with numbers, like "10 Ways to Boost Your Productivity" or "5 Myths About Losing Weight" tend to attract more interest. Numbers imply useful information.
  • Active voice. Use active verbs and present tense, like "Boosts", "Drives", "Crushes" or "Destroys". They make the headline more compelling than passive verbs and past tense.

Keep practicing! Coming up with great headlines takes work. Study successful headlines and keep trying different options for your own content. Over time, crafting killer headlines will become second nature.

2. Make It About the Reader

When writing headlines, put yourself in the reader's shoes. Ask yourself, "what's in it for me?" Your headline should convey how the reader will benefit or what value they will gain from reading your content.

For example, instead of "The Latest Small Business Accounting Software", try "3 Ways to Save Time and Money With Accounting Software for Your Small Business".

The revised headline paints a clear picture of the advantages to the reader.

Some other examples of reader-focused headlines:

  • Discover 5 Fast Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills
  • 10 Mistakes You're Making With Your Retirement Savings
  • What You Need to Know About Medicare Changes for 2020

See how these headlines are focused on you, the reader, and the value you'll receive? They draw the reader in by promising useful information or solutions to problems.

When you make your headline about the reader, you give them a reason to care. You capture their attention and interest right away by showing them how they will benefit. And that, in turn, means a better chance of getting them to read and share your content.

So get out of your own head and into your reader's. Focus on them, their needs, desires, and pain points.

3. Use Emotional Triggers

Want to write headlines that grab attention and drive action? Use emotional triggers. Our brains are wired to react to emotions, so crafting headlines that tap into them can be very persuasive.

For example, headlines that create a sense of urgency or scarcity compel people to click or buy now before the opportunity is gone:

  • Only 2 Tickets Left for This Weekend’s Show!
  • Sale Ends Tomorrow - 60% Off Limited Quantities!

Curiosity is another trigger. Headlines that tease the reader or hint at valuable information get them clicking to satisfy their curiosity:

  • The One Thing You Need to Know to Double Your Productivity
  • She Lost 100 Pounds in 6 Months. Here's How She Did It:

You can also tap into the desire to achieve or solve a problem. Headlines that promise practical solutions or life-changing advice are always a hit:

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  • 6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Memory Starting Today

Social proof headlines leverage the human tendency to follow the crowd. Mentions of popular opinions, experts, statistics, awards, etc. add credibility:

  • The Productivity System Used by Elon Musk and Tim Ferriss
  • 97% of Customers Say This Is the Most Comfortable Mattress Ever Made

Of course, you can combine multiple triggers for an even more powerful effect. Emotional headlines, especially those with a personal angle, tend to resonate most with readers.

4. Include Numbers or Statistics

When it comes to writing headlines that grab attention, numbers, and statistics are your secret weapons.

Our brains are hardwired to notice numbers, so including them in your headline is an easy way to make it more engaging.

Let me share some couple of tips for leveraging numbers in your headlines:

1. Use Odd Numbers

Headlines with odd numbers like 3, 5, or 7 tend to perform better. For some reason, odd numbers seem more believable and catch our eye more easily.

A headline like "5 Ways to Improve Your Productivity" will probably get more clicks than "4 Ways to Improve Your Productivity."

2. Use Big, Round Numbers

Large, rounded numbers also attract more attention.

Headlines like "1000 Life Hacks Every College Student Should Know" or "10,000 Hours: The Secret to Success" spark curiosity because those big numbers seem impressive and make us want to know more.

3. Use Statistics and Percentages in your headlines

Including statistics, percentages, or figures in your headline is a great way to demonstrate social proof and the significance or magnitude of what you're writing about.

For example, a headline like "73% of Millennials Want to Quit Their Jobs. Here's Why." or "The 20 Universities That Produce the Most Billionaires." Headlines with hard facts and figures like this convey authority and get high engagement.

4. Use Number Ranges in your headlines

Another option is to include a range of numbers, which gives the reader a sense of scale while still being concise.

For example, "The 5-10 Best Places to Travel on a Budget This Year" or "10-15 Easy Ways to Save $500 Per Month." Range headlines like these work well when you have a longer list of tips, tools, or examples to share.

Using numbers and statistics in your headlines, whether odd numbers, big round numbers, percentages, or number ranges, is an easy way to create engaging and authoritative headlines that will attract more readers and shares.

5. Use Power Words That Grab Attention 

Power words are like a caffeine boost for your headlines. They grab attention and draw readers in, making them want to click and read more. Using compelling power words in your headline is one of the best ways to increase traffic and shares.

As you write your headline, look for opportunities to substitute boring words with attention-grabbing power words.

For example, instead of “How to Write Good Headlines,” try “How to Craft Irresistible Headlines.” See the difference? The second headline pulls you in and promises valuable information.

Some power words to work into your headlines include:

  • Irresistible - Implies something too appealing to pass up. “Irresistible Offer Inside!”
  • Secrets - We all want to know secrets. “10 Secrets to Double Your Productivity”
  • Exposed - Creates intrigue. “The Truth About Clickbait Headlines Exposed!”
  • Shocking - Surprises the reader. “Shocking Ways to Boost Your Creativity Overnight”
  • Revealed - Sounds mysterious. “Revealed: The Best Times to Post on Social Media”
  • Mistakes - Implies common errors. “5 Mistakes You're Making on Social Media”
  • Hacks - Suggests clever shortcuts. “Hacks to Get 1 Million Views on YouTube”

Using power words in your headlines, especially in combination with numbers, will make your headlines nearly irresistible. The more compelling and curiosity-inducing your headline is, the more traffic and social shares it will drive to your content.


So there you have it, six tips for crafting catchy headlines that will capture attention and drive action. Headlines are so critical because they determine whether or not someone will even read your content.

Apply these tips, do some testing, and keep tweaking your headlines to maximize the impact. Before you know it, you'll be writing headlines that are impossible to ignore. Now get out there and spread your message - the world is waiting to read what you have to say!

Must reads:

  1. Financial Copywriting - A practical Guide
  2. The Headline Formula: 5 Tips for Writing Headlines That Work
  3. 12 Types of Copywriting every marketer needs to master
  4. Best Website to Making Money for Copywriters

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