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Headline Writer

Condense a big idea into an eye-catching newspaper or website headline.

What does a Headline Writer do?

A Headline Writer comes up with headlines for newspapers, magazines, and websites. It’s not as easy as it sounds, however. After all, headlines must offer an at-a-glance look at the news. In a split second, they must communicate both facts and feelings.

For example, on December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the front page of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin read simply, “War!” And on September 12, 2001, the day after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, the front page of the Washington Times proclaimed in all capital letters, “INFAMY.”

So, even though they’re often quite simple, the truth is that a good headline is really, really hard to write. Still, you write them every day when you’re a Headline Writer.

Usually employed in a newsroom, you spend your days reading content and creating headlines for it, keeping in mind that the best headlines are not only short but also informative and evocative. You’re typically limited in the number of words and characters you can use, since headlines must fit into very tight spaces. But through those short headlines, you need to both communicate and sell the news.

In the heyday of newspapers, writing amazing headlines was probably all that a Headline Writer did. Today, however, you’re most likely a Copyeditor, too, charged with proofreading articles for spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Or, if you work online, there’s a good chance you’re actually an SEO Consultant, in which case you spend your days writing headlines — as well as articles and metadata — utilizing search engine optimization techniques that help your publication increase its exposure online. (After all, today’s headlines aren’t read; they’re searched!)