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The headline is the text at the top of a newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

 article, indicating the nature of the article below it.

It is sometimes termed a news hed, a deliberate misspelling that dates from production flow during hot type
Hot Type
Hot Type is a Canadian television series, which airs weekly on CBC Newsworld. Hosted by Evan Solomon, the program profiles books and literature.The series also formerly aired in the United States on Trio and Newsworld International....

 days, to notify the composing room that a written note from an editor concerned a headline and should not be set in type.

Production of headlines

A headline's purpose is to quickly and briefly draw attention to the story. It is generally written by a copy editor, but may also be written by the writer, the page layout designer, or other editors. The most important story on the front page
Front Page
A front page is the first page of a newspaper or other publication lacking a front cover, typically the place where the most important content is placed, hence the metaphorical connotations of the term.Front Page can also refer to:...

 above the fold
Above the fold
"Above the fold" is a graphic design concept that refers to the location of an important news story or a visually appealing photograph on the upper half of the front page of a newspaper, or in case of webpages, the part of a page that's visible without scrolling. Most papers are delivered and...

 may have a larger headline if the story is unusually important. The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

s 21 July 1969 front page stated, for example, that "MEN WALK ON MOON
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

", with the four words in gigantic size spread from the left to right edges of the page.

The film The Shipping News
The Shipping News (film)
The Shipping News is a 2001 drama film directed by Lasse Hallström, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by E. Annie Proulx.It stars Kevin Spacey as the protagonist Quoyle, Judi Dench as Agnis Hamm and Julianne Moore as Wavey Prowse...

 has an illustrative exchange between the protagonist, who is learning how to write for a local newspaper, and his publisher:
Publisher: It's finding the center of your story, the beating heart of it, that's what makes a reporter. You have to start by making up some headlines. You know: short, punchy, dramatic headlines. Now, have a look, [pointing at dark clouds gathering in the sky over the ocean] what do you see? Tell me the headline.
Protagonist: But what if no storm comes?

In the United States, headline contests are sponsored by the American Copy Editors Society
American Copy Editors Society
The American Copy Editors Society, commonly known as ACES, is a professional not-for-profit association for copy editors at U.S. newspapers, magazines, Web sites and corporations., the group offers:*a headline contest*member directories*a newsletter...

, the National Federation of Press Women
National Federation of Press Women
The National Federation of Press Women, , founded in 1937, is a US-based organization for men and women in electronic, broadcast and print journalism....

, and many state press associations.

Unusual headlines

A number of newspapers use humour
Humour or humor is the tendency of particular cognitive experiences to provoke laughter and provide amusement...

, pun
The pun, also called paronomasia, is a form of word play which suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use and abuse of homophonic,...

s, alliteration
In language, alliteration refers to the repetition of a particular sound in the first syllables of Three or more words or phrases. Alliteration has historically developed largely through poetry, in which it more narrowly refers to the repetition of a consonant in any syllables that, according to...

 or other word play
Word play
Word play or wordplay is a literary technique in which the words that are used become the main subject of the work, primarily for the purpose of intended effect or amusement...

 devices in their headlines. Equally, the need to keep headlines brief occasionally leads to unintentional double meanings, if not double entendre
Double entendre
A double entendre or adianoeta is a figure of speech in which a spoken phrase is devised to be understood in either of two ways. Often the first meaning is straightforward, while the second meaning is less so: often risqué or ironic....

s. For example, if the story is about the president of Iraq trying to acquire weapons, the headline might be IRAQI HEAD SEEKS ARMS, or if some agricultural legislation is defeated in the United States House of Representatives, the title could read FARMER BILL DIES IN HOUSE.
  • WALL ST. LAYS AN EGG - Variety
    Variety (magazine)
    Variety is an American weekly entertainment-trade magazine founded in New York City, New York, in 1905 by Sime Silverman. With the rise of the importance of the motion-picture industry, Daily Variety, a daily edition based in Los Angeles, California, was founded by Silverman in 1933. In 1998, the...

     on Black Monday
    Black Monday
    Black Monday is a term used to refer to certain events which occur on a Monday. It has been used in the following cases:* Black Monday, Dublin, 1209 – when a group of 500 recently arrived settlers from Bristol were massacred by warriors of the Gaelic O'Byrne clan...

    Sticks nix hick pix
    STICKS NIX HICK PIX was a headline printed in Variety, a newspaper covering Hollywood and the entertainment industry, on July 17, 1935, over an article about the reaction of rural audiences to movies about rural life...

     - Variety writing that rural moviegoers preferred urban films (1935)
    Dewey Defeats Truman
    "Dewey Defeats Truman" was a famously inaccurate banner headline on the front page of the Chicago Tribune on November 3, 1948, the day after incumbent United States President Harry S. Truman beat Republican challenger and Governor of New York Thomas E...

     - Chicago Tribune
    Chicago Tribune
    The Chicago Tribune is a major daily newspaper based in Chicago, Illinois, and the flagship publication of the Tribune Company. Formerly self-styled as the "World's Greatest Newspaper" , it remains the most read daily newspaper of the Chicago metropolitan area and the Great Lakes region and is...

     reporting the wrong election winner (1948)
  • FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD - New York Daily News
    New York Daily News
    The Daily News of New York City is the fourth most widely circulated daily newspaper in the United States with a daily circulation of 605,677, as of November 1, 2011....

     reporting the denial of a federal bailout for bankrupt New York City
    New York City
    New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

    New York Post
    The New York Post is the 13th-oldest newspaper published in the United States and is generally acknowledged as the oldest to have been published continuously as a daily, although – as is the case with most other papers – its publication has been periodically interrupted by labor actions...

     on a local murder (1983)
  • SAM SLEEPS! - New York Post
    New York Post
    The New York Post is the 13th-oldest newspaper published in the United States and is generally acknowledged as the oldest to have been published continuously as a daily, although – as is the case with most other papers – its publication has been periodically interrupted by labor actions...

     over a front-page picture of mass-murderer David Berkowitz ("Son of Sam") asleep in his jail cell.
    Sic transit gloria mundi
    Sic transit gloria mundi is a Latin phrase that means "Thus passes the glory of the world". It has been interpreted as "Worldly things are fleeting." It is possibly an adaptation of a phrase in Thomas à Kempis's 1418 work The Imitation of Christ: "O quam cito transit gloria mundi" .The phrase was...

     - New York Daily News reporting a state transit bailout (1980)
  • GOTCHA! - The UK Sun
    The Sun (newspaper)
    The Sun is a daily national tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and owned by News Corporation. Sister editions are published in Glasgow and Dublin...

     on the torpedoing of the Argentine ship Belgrano
    ARA General Belgrano
    The ARA General Belgrano was an Argentine Navy light cruiser in service from 1951 until 1982. Formerly the , she saw action in the Pacific theater of World War II before being sold to Argentina. After almost 31 years of service, she was sunk during the Falklands War by the Royal Navy submarine ...

     and sinking of a gunboat during the Falklands War
    Falklands War
    The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

    Freddie Starr
    Freddie Starr is an English comedian who became famous in the early 1970s. He is also an impressionist and singer, with a chart album After the Laughter and UK Top 10 single, "It's You", in March 1974 to his credit.-Early career:Under his real name, he appeared as a teenager in the film Violent...

     ATE MY HAMSTER - The UK Sun
    The Sun (newspaper)
    The Sun is a daily national tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and owned by News Corporation. Sister editions are published in Glasgow and Dublin...

     (1986), claiming that the comedian had eaten a fan's pet hamster
    Hamsters are rodents belonging to the subfamily Cricetinae. The subfamily contains about 25 species, classified in six or seven genera....

     in a sandwich. The story was later proven false, but is seen as one of the classic tabloid newspaper headlines.
    The Times
    The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

     (UK) on US-Iran talks (2007)
    Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is an English word, with 34 letters, that was in the song with the same title in the 1964 Disney musical film Mary Poppins. The song was written by the Sherman Brothers, and sung by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke...

     - Sun
    The Sun (newspaper)
    The Sun is a daily national tabloid newspaper published in the United Kingdom and owned by News Corporation. Sister editions are published in Glasgow and Dublin...

     on Inverness Caledonian Thistle beating Celtic in the Scottish Cup

While editor of The New Republic
The New Republic
The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

, Michael Kinsley
Michael Kinsley
Michael Kinsley is an American political journalist, commentator, television host, and pundit. Primarily active in print media as both a writer and editor, he also became known to television audiences as a co-host on Crossfire...

 began a contest to find the most boring newspaper headline. According to him, no entry surpassed the one that had inspired him to create the contest: "WORTHWHILE CANADIAN INITIATIVE", over a column by The New York Times Flora Lewis
Flora Lewis
Flora Lewis was an American journalist.Lewis was born in Los Angeles and was a 1941 summa cum laude graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University in 1942.She wrote for The...


See also

  • The lead paragraph
    Lead paragraph
    A lead paragraph in literature refers to the opening paragraph of an article, essay, news story or book chapter. Often called just "the lead", it usually occurs together with the headline or title, it precedes the main body of the article, and it gives the reader the main idea of the story.In the...

  • Headlines
    Headlines (The Tonight Show)
    "Headlines" is a segment that airs weekly on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. It also aired on the prime-time spin-off The Jay Leno Show. The segment usually airs on Monday, though it airs on Tuesday usually after some popular weekend event pre-empted it for Monday night...

     (from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno)
  • A-1 Headline
    A-1 Headline
    A-1, is a 2004 Hong Kong thriller film directed by Gordon Chan and Kai Cheung Chung and produced by Fruit Chan.-Cast:* Gordon Lam...

    , a 2004 Hong Kong film
  • Bus plunge
    Bus plunge
    Bus plunge stories are a nickname for a journalistic practice of reporting bus mishaps in short articles that invariably describe the vehicle as "plunging" from a bridge or hillside road...

    , a type of news story, and accompanying headline

Further reading

  • Harold Evans
    Harold Evans
    Sir Harold Matthew Evans is a British-born journalist and writer who was editor of The Sunday Times from 1967 to 1981. He has written various books on history and journalism...

     News Headlines (Editing and Design : Book Three) Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd (February 1974) ISBN 0-434-90552-6 ISBN 978-0-434-90552-2
  • Fritz Spiegl
    Fritz Spiegl
    Fritz Spiegl was born at Zurndorf, Austria, the son of an agricultural merchant and his Jewish wife. He became a musician, journalist, broadcaster, humorist and collector who lived and worked in England from 1939....

    What The Papers Didn't Mean to Say Scouse Press, Liverpool, 1965

External links