Ritzenbergís Rules for Heads

Use positive words that are short, evocative and informative.

Some names are headline names, some are not. A name in a headline should be a household word, in order to work.

Avoid acronyms and abbreviations unless they are universally known.

Avoid professional jargon.

Donít simply steal the lead of the story for the headline; donít blow the suspense.

Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. Tell what the story is about.

Donít breakup lines erratically Ė one thought, one line.

Sometimes headlines have to be written in the historical past tense..

Make headlines active. A label head can work only when followed by an active subhead.

Beware of puns, if youíre not a punster.

Beware of cliches. Donít always use ďsend in the clowns.

Sound out the headline to make sure it makes sense.

Phillip Ritzenberg is a co-founder and former president of the society of Newspaper Design.