The Worst Headline — “Everything you need to Know…”

Everything by Julia Caesar CC0 Public Domain from Unsplash

The worst head­line? Sure­ly not? It is with good rea­son I sug­gest this is the worst head­line you can use. How many times have you seen the head­line start­ing “Every­thing you need to know about…”? When I was new to the Inter­net and encoun­tered such head­lines I would think “Great”, and open the piece. But it was NOT every­thing I need­ed to know, the con­tent bare­ly scratched the sur­face, it was less than I already knew.

The rea­son for my search was that I need­ed to know more.


The Worst Headline — Challenge


Pirate Everything - makes your Worst HeadlineThe chal­lenge with “every­thing you need to know” is that EVERYTHING pro­vides quite a wide scope. It is some­what akin to let­ting the pirate in. Every­thing you need to know about tele­vi­sion, for instance it will not tell me:

  • How the Sony QX92-4HD works.
  • What chan­nels to sub­scribe to.
  • The doc­u­men­taries that are avail­able on His­to­ry Channel.
  • How TV shows are made.
  • The sto­ry behind “Mid­night, Texas”.

Yet some­one could argue that they are each essen­tial ele­ments to know about tele­vi­sion. Each would deserve a full piece writ­ten about them. But they an unde­ni­able part of a greater whole.

The great chal­lenge with “every­thing you need to know…” think that open­ing that page will pro­vide answers to their prob­lems. This is why I believe say­ing “every­thing” con­tributes to the worst head­line, it is not spe­cif­ic enough.


What “Everything you Need to Know” Means


The words “every­thing you need to know about…” have become a syn­onym for say­ing that the writer is going to skim over the details, pro­vide a gloss, often bare­ly 500 words in length.

With most sub­jects to dis­cuss “every­thing” will take a lot of words, more than a short blog post, often more than a book, or series of them. In part it is what makes writ­ing so inter­est­ing, the impos­si­bil­i­ty of describ­ing everything.


Facts About… Another Problematic Headline


Marbles by Couleur CC0 Public Domain image from PixabaySome writ­ers look at the words they have writ­ten and realise they could not have pos­si­ble cov­ered every­thing so use “about” or “facts about” in the title. It is true that peo­ple want to read facts. This is again a mat­ter of pre­sen­ta­tion. Think about those coloured glass mar­bles you have in your col­lec­tion, each is dif­fer­ent, each is dif­fer­ent in char­ac­ter. They are each mar­bles, but they are each unique. “About” shows the inten­tion to ignore the details, but details must get shown. Why does one have a yel­low and red stripe and anoth­er black? Details mat­ter, as they dis­tin­guish indi­vid­ual mar­bles, they should dis­tin­guish the details in your work.

It would be bet­ter to have a head­line “7 Facts on Car Insur­ance in Aus­tralia” than use the title “About Car Insur­ance”. Like “every­thing you need to know”, the terms “about” or “facts about” is a clear sig­nal that the mate­r­i­al con­tained in the post is mere­ly a quick skim of the sub­ject. The writer per­formed no real research when writ­ing this piece.

It is also clear indi­ca­tion that they have failed to think about the read­er or how to attract them to their story.


One Solution


How a sto­ry is received starts at the head­line, although that title is, prob­a­bly, the last thing decid­ed. Head­lines need craft­ing, they need thought. You don’t need the worst head­line. View each option from many angles. Ask your­self what each means. Even when we do that it is still pos­si­ble to go off track and have a head­line fails the work it supports.

Think about TV adver­tise­ments for one moment. What is your favourite?

Geico Gecko courtesy Geico InsuranceWe all have a favourite. We like them because they inspire us, make us want to buy the prod­uct, have a tune that we hum over and over again, have a lit­tle char­ac­ter that moves us. The Geico Gecko, is one exam­ple of an adver­tis­ing char­ac­ter that moves us and there have been many more used over the years. That lit­tle crea­ture has the per­fect voice to draw you in, is a great char­ac­ter, polite charm­ing. Many peo­ple put this pic­ture on the wall in their office, even if they don’t buy car insur­ance from the com­pa­ny. We all know and love it, even peo­ple work­ing for com­pet­ing com­pa­nies will have a lit­tle place in their heart for it. There is a lit­tle of us in there, which is why it is so important.

The chal­lenge of TV adver­tis­ing is that they tell a sto­ry and sell us some­thing in 30 sec­onds or less. They are some­what like twit­ter, they allow peo­ple to build a teas­er and draw the audi­ence in, with the hope of some­thing more. That is the goal of a head­line, show poten­tial, invoke the imag­i­na­tion, act to bring peo­ple along to read the piece. When writ­ing a head­line that should be you aim.


The Article and Headline work Together


The great­est and most mem­o­rable pieces have head­lines and arti­cles that are in sync. They are attuned to each oth­er. They also speak to the needs of the read­er. They work togeth­er and tell a sto­ry togeth­er. It is a sto­ry that read­ers want to hear.

Effort mat­ters. The worst head­line, is often one non­cha­lant­ly added. it has lit­tle thought. Effort is required to pro­duce a tru­ly excel­lent head­line. Gen­er­al­ly, the more effort, the more think­ing, you do — the more pow­er­ful the head­line you are like­ly to pro­duce. You need sev­er­al options to work from.


Be Realistic


To avoid cre­at­ing the worst head­line you need to be real­is­tic in head­line cre­ation. The word ‘every­thing’ is sim­ply unbe­liev­able. ‘About’ and ‘facts about’ lack pre­ci­sion. These are a poor impres­sion to give. Find alter­na­tive words if you are about to start your head­line with any of these words. You want some­thing more upbeat, some­thing that com­pels the read­er, to read on.

It also should be a sign that your blog post needs to be tar­get­ed, respond to spe­cif­ic issues. There is always room for arti­cles con­tain­ing facts. Peo­ple desire facts. What you write in your post are facts. If, for exam­ple, you were writ­ing an arti­cle about the dan­gers of smok­ing it may cov­er facts about the harm smok­ing does. The dis­eases it makes a per­son more sus­cep­ti­ble to, etc. This may pro­vide the read­er 7 rea­sons to stop smoking.

You have not cov­ered every­thing, but you have giv­en detail where it is need­ed. You iden­ti­fied 7 points of inter­est. It is not “every­thing”, but… I think you’ll under­stand where I’m going with this.


Other items to Avoid


Each of the fol­low­ing find their way into head­lines, even pro­fes­sion­al­ly writ­ten ones. Gen­er­al­ly these are things to avoid:

  • Superla­tives like amaz­ing, incred­i­ble, best, awe­some, easy, sim­ple, or unbelievable.
  • Instruc­tive words like ‘always’.
  • Oblique words, that only a small per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion will understand.
  • Mis­spelled words.
  • Vague­ness, trig­gered by words like has, are.
  • Being too positive.
  • Pas­sive voice
  • Inde­ci­sive­ness, words like: may, maybe, might.
  • Accusative words, like ‘you’ or ‘you should’.
  • Pro­nouns, I, you, we, our.
  • Words requir­ing eval­u­a­tion, like afford­able, bet­ter, inex­pen­sive, famous.
  • Own­er­ship — your, you’re. The lat­ter is often misused.
  • Elim­i­nate unnec­es­sary words.
  • A head­line is not an announcement


Other related Posts

How you cre­ate head­lines is vital to the suc­cess of your blog. You don’t want the worst head­line, but with­out thought you could end up with it. The fol­low­ing offer some assis­tance in cre­at­ing bet­ter headlines.




      Thank the author, donate to the suc­cess of Gob­blede­Goox. This page is sup­port­ed, in part by dona­tions from read­ers, like you, who wish to thank the author for writ­ing on this top­ic. If you have ques­tions about head­lines then please ask them via a com­ment. All images used here are avail­able in the pub­lic domain and have been resourced from roy­al­ty free sites like Pix­abay, Pex­els, and Unsplash.


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