Headline & Caption Writing: When and when not to break the rules! Elizabeth Pearson, Andrew Scott
Types of Headlines
Direct Headlines   <ul><li>Pure silk blouses – 30 percent off </li></ul>
Indirect Headline   <ul><li>Fresh bait works best </li></ul>
News Headline   <ul><li>My exclusive interview with Steve Jobs </li></ul>
How to Headline   <ul><li>How to build a house of cards </li></ul>
Question Headline   <ul><li>Do you close the bathroom door even when you’re the only one home? </li></ul>
Command Headline   <ul><li>Subscribe to the DM today! </li></ul>
Reason Why Headline   <ul><li>Two hundred reasons why open source software beats Microsoft </li></ul>
Testimonial Headline   <ul><li>‘ I read Copyblogger first thing each morning,’ admits Angelina Jolie  </li></ul>
Rules for Headlines
Use the active voice  <ul><li>Effective headlines usually involve logical sentence structure, active voice and strong pres...
A “capital” idea: Moving on <ul><li>Do not capitalize every word. </li></ul><ul><li>Do capitalize the first word after a c...
Number, please  <ul><li>Example:   </li></ul><ul><li>3 die in crash  </li></ul>
To the left, to the left <ul><li>NO exceptions unless told otherwise!! </li></ul>
It’s XXX-rated?  <ul><li>Examples:   </li></ul><ul><li>Lincoln, Douglas to debate UNACCEPTABLE </li></ul><ul><li>at new KU...
Punctuation normal — mostly  <ul><li>Examples:   </li></ul><ul><li>Single Quotes </li></ul><ul><li>Lincoln: ‘The war has b...
“And” punctuation replacement <ul><li>Examples:   </li></ul><ul><li>(awkward) </li></ul><ul><li>Lincoln offers compromise,...
Even more on punctuation  <ul><li>Examples:   </li></ul><ul><li>Clinton says there was no affair   UNACCEPTABLE </li></ul>...
Speaking of ambiguity, double entendres  <ul><li>Example:   </li></ul><ul><li>Textron Inc. makes offer </li></ul><ul><li>t...
Who (and what) is whom (or what)? <ul><li>Examples:   </li></ul><ul><li>Jones to fill Who is Jones? </li></ul><ul><li>vaca...
Other Rules <ul><li>Abbreviations </li></ul><ul><li>Not acceptable in stories, yet great in headlines KS, MS </li></ul><ul...
Don’t be cute, unless called for <ul><li>Example:   </li></ul><ul><li>Skywalkers in Korea  </li></ul><ul><li>cross Han Sol...
Finally, the ‘doo-dah’ rule <ul><li>Example:   </li></ul><ul><li>City’s singers “doo-dah” </li></ul><ul><li>in good tune “...
Practice Time!   <ul><li>Take two stories given and create your own headline! </li></ul>
Caption Writing
Hot tips for Caption Writing <ul><li>Check the facts. Be accurate!  </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid stating the obvious. &quot;Den...
Hot tips for Caption Writing <ul><li>A photograph captures a moment in time. Whenever possible, use present tense. This wi...
Hot tips for Caption Writing <ul><li>Don't assume. Ask questions in your effort to inform and be specific. Be willing to c...
References: Poynter Institute Online http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=4355 Copy Blogger http://www.copyb...
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Headline Caption Writing

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Headline Caption Writing

  1. 1. Headline & Caption Writing: When and when not to break the rules! Elizabeth Pearson, Andrew Scott
  2. 2. Types of Headlines
  3. 3. Direct Headlines <ul><li>Pure silk blouses – 30 percent off </li></ul>
  4. 4. Indirect Headline <ul><li>Fresh bait works best </li></ul>
  5. 5. News Headline <ul><li>My exclusive interview with Steve Jobs </li></ul>
  6. 6. How to Headline <ul><li>How to build a house of cards </li></ul>
  7. 7. Question Headline <ul><li>Do you close the bathroom door even when you’re the only one home? </li></ul>
  8. 8. Command Headline <ul><li>Subscribe to the DM today! </li></ul>
  9. 9. Reason Why Headline <ul><li>Two hundred reasons why open source software beats Microsoft </li></ul>
  10. 10. Testimonial Headline <ul><li>‘ I read Copyblogger first thing each morning,’ admits Angelina Jolie </li></ul>
  11. 11. Rules for Headlines
  12. 12. Use the active voice <ul><li>Effective headlines usually involve logical sentence structure, active voice and strong present-tense, active verbs. </li></ul>
  13. 13. A “capital” idea: Moving on <ul><li>Do not capitalize every word. </li></ul><ul><li>Do capitalize the first word after a colon. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Number, please <ul><li>Example:  </li></ul><ul><li>3 die in crash </li></ul>
  15. 15. To the left, to the left <ul><li>NO exceptions unless told otherwise!! </li></ul>
  16. 16. It’s XXX-rated? <ul><li>Examples:  </li></ul><ul><li>Lincoln, Douglas to debate UNACCEPTABLE </li></ul><ul><li>at new KU Dole Center xxx </li></ul><ul><li>Lincoln, Douglas to debate BETTER </li></ul><ul><li>at KU’s new Dole Center xx </li></ul><ul><li>Lincoln-Douglas RULE EXCEPTION </li></ul><ul><li>debate today xxx </li></ul><ul><li>at Dole Center </li></ul>
  17. 17. Punctuation normal — mostly <ul><li>Examples:  </li></ul><ul><li>Single Quotes </li></ul><ul><li>Lincoln: ‘The war has begun’ </li></ul><ul><li>Paraphrase </li></ul><ul><li>Lincoln: War inevitable; victory essential </li></ul><ul><li>Lincoln says war inevitable; Davis agrees </li></ul>
  18. 18. “And” punctuation replacement <ul><li>Examples:  </li></ul><ul><li>(awkward) </li></ul><ul><li>Lincoln offers compromise, Davis Declines </li></ul><ul><li>(better) </li></ul><ul><li>Lincoln offers compromise; Davis declines </li></ul><ul><li>(best) </li></ul><ul><li>Lincoln offers an ‘out,’ but Davis declines </li></ul>
  19. 19. Even more on punctuation <ul><li>Examples:  </li></ul><ul><li>Clinton says there was no affair UNACCEPTABLE </li></ul><ul><li>witness should ‘to tell the truth’ </li></ul><ul><li>Clinton says no affair, that BETTER </li></ul><ul><li>witness should ‘tell the truth’ </li></ul><ul><li>Clinton: No affair; Starr: His probe RULE EXCEPTION </li></ul><ul><li>proves it happened more than once </li></ul>
  20. 20. Speaking of ambiguity, double entendres <ul><li>Example:  </li></ul><ul><li>Textron Inc. makes offer </li></ul><ul><li>to Screw Co. stockholders </li></ul>
  21. 21. Who (and what) is whom (or what)? <ul><li>Examples:  </li></ul><ul><li>Jones to fill Who is Jones? </li></ul><ul><li>vacancy on </li></ul><ul><li>city council </li></ul><ul><li>Lincoln-Douglas Good </li></ul><ul><li>debate today </li></ul><ul><li>on K.C. radio </li></ul>
  22. 22. Other Rules <ul><li>Abbreviations </li></ul><ul><li>Not acceptable in stories, yet great in headlines KS, MS </li></ul><ul><li>Polly want a cracker? </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t rip-off the writer’s headline! </li></ul><ul><li>More to avoid </li></ul><ul><li>editorializing, exaggeration, generalizing or long words </li></ul><ul><li>No ‘a’ or ‘and’ or ‘the’? </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid unless needed for clarity </li></ul>
  23. 23. Don’t be cute, unless called for <ul><li>Example:  </li></ul><ul><li>Skywalkers in Korea </li></ul><ul><li>cross Han Solo </li></ul>     Kwon Won-tae of South Korea participates in the first World High Wire Championships in Seoul, in which participants cross the Han River on a 1 km (0.62 miles) wire, May 3, 2007. The event is part of the annual &quot;Hi Seoul Festival&quot; organised by Seoul City which began April 27 and lasts ten days.
  24. 24. Finally, the ‘doo-dah’ rule <ul><li>Example:  </li></ul><ul><li>City’s singers “doo-dah” </li></ul><ul><li>in good tune “doo-dah” </li></ul>
  25. 25. Practice Time! <ul><li>Take two stories given and create your own headline! </li></ul>
  26. 26. Caption Writing
  27. 27. Hot tips for Caption Writing <ul><li>Check the facts. Be accurate! </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid stating the obvious. &quot;Dennis Rodman smiles as he kicks a broadcast photographer in the groin.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Always identify the main people in the photograph. </li></ul><ul><li>Don't let cutlines recapitulate information in the head or deck or summary. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid making judgments. &quot;An unhappy citizen watches the protest...&quot; Can you be sure that he is unhappy? Or is he hurting. Or just not photogenic. If you must be judgmental, be sure you seek the truth. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Hot tips for Caption Writing <ul><li>A photograph captures a moment in time. Whenever possible, use present tense. This will creates a sense of immediacy and impact. </li></ul><ul><li>Don't try to be humorous when the picture is not. </li></ul><ul><li>Descriptions are very helpful for viewer. The person dressed &quot;in black,&quot; &quot;holding the water hose,&quot; &quot;sulky from chagrin,&quot; or &quot;standing to the left of the sofa, center&quot; are helpful identifying factors. </li></ul><ul><li>Be willing to allow for longer captions when more information will help the reader/viewer understand the story and situation. </li></ul><ul><li>Use commas to set off directions from the captions to the picture. &quot;Kachira Irby, above,...&quot;or &quot;Kennetra Irby, upper left...&quot; </li></ul>
  29. 29. Hot tips for Caption Writing <ul><li>Don't assume. Ask questions in your effort to inform and be specific. Be willing to contact and include the visual reporter. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid using terms like &quot;is shown, is pictured, and looks on.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>If the photograph is a historic or file photo, include the date that it was taken. Mayor David Dinkins, 1993. </li></ul><ul><li>Conversational language works best. Don't use clichés. Write the caption as if you're telling a family member a story. </li></ul><ul><li>Quotes can be an effective device, be willing to use them when they work. </li></ul>
  30. 30. References: Poynter Institute Online http://www.poynter.org/content/content_view.asp?id=4355 Copy Blogger http://www.copyblogger.com/how-to-write-headlines-that-work/ Writing Effective Headlines http:// web.ku.edu/~edit/heads.html

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