Chapter 12 headlining your storyPresentation Transcript
Chapter 12 Headlining Your Story
Headlines play five fairly obvious roles:
1) They summarize the news, so that by taking a glance at the headline, the reader will know what the story is about;
2) They attract the reader’s attention with large print and sometimes with language of shocking or sensational effect;
3) They index the news, i.e., rank the importance of stories by the size of the print and placement on the page;
4) They decorate the page;
5) They fill the space.
If you work for a newspaper as a reporter,
You do not need to worry about the headline. You just hand in your story to the copy editor.
What headline to use depends on many factors, e.g., how much space is available after stories are laid out on a page, and it is the responsibility of the copy editor to headline your story.
If you are a student newspaper reporter,
You have to be your own copy editor.
Some students like to write “A Fortunate Grandmother,” “Death in a Traffic Accident,” or “Angry Students.” These headings do not communicate much. Nor do they play well the five roles we have just looked at.
Some of the basic rules of the “headline” grammar
Headline Grammar Rule One:
Sentences are preferred to phrases.
A Fortunate Grandmother
Granny Hugs Daughter Lost for 30 Years
Headline Grammar Rule Two:
Nominal groups are condensed. Articles, definite as well as indefinite, are often left out. Sometimes even possessive pronouns, e.g., “his” in “his daughter,” are left out.
e.g., Student Union Finds New Chair
Co-Hab off Campus Triggers Arguments
Headline Grammar Rule Three:
Copular verbs are often left out.
Peace Studies New in the West, Says UK Professor
Prep Program Trendy Prior to Graduate Exams
Headline Grammar Rule Four:
The past tense verb form does not have “-ed.” By making the verb into a simple present, the reporter is giving us a vivid, eyewitness account. Notice that in headline grammar, there is no present perfect.
Horse Bites Girl on Face
Cab drivers Go on Strike as Festival Opens
Sexual Harassment Sparks Concerns on Campus
Headline Grammar Rule Five:
With the present progressive, the verb “to be” is often omitted.
Computer Lab Trying Out New Rules
Professor Pleading for Mt. Elephant
Headline Grammar Rule Six:
When you headline future events, “will” or “shall” is replaced by “to”.
President to Talk on Peace Pact
French Major to Compete in Beijing
Headline Grammar Rule Seven:
In passive voice, the verb “to be” is omitted because again, it does not carry much meaning.
Boy Found Dead in Basement
Cab-driver Trapped in Fake Accident
Headline Grammar Rule Eight:
The connecting word “and” is replaced by a comma.
This rule helps save space and shorten the sentence. For the same reason, “so”, “therefore” and “however” almost never occur in headlines.
Accident Hurts One, Holds up Traffic
Headline Grammar Rule Nine:
When a quotation is used for a headline, the speech tag often leaves out the word “say” or the like to save space.
Protesters: Hands off, Yankees!
Men Brought about Women’s Movements: US Professor
Headline Grammar Rule Ten:
Short words are always preferred to long words.
Short, one-syllable words take up less space, and besides, they are often crisp, stunning and eye-catching.
Glossary of short words found in newspaper headlines