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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