Introduction to the Headline Activity

Media Studies on Scoilnet

Welcome to the media studies 'headline' forum on Scoilnet.

We are looking for good examples of headlines which you have come across.

You are invited to choose good examples of headlines and to submit them to this discussion forum. Please read the notes below. Then use the submission form to make your contribution.

Contributions must be on the submission form.
Submission forms must be complete

Looking forward to hearing from you

Headline: A large word, phrase or sentence at the head of an article often identified by bold type, large font size and clever usage of language. Headlines have three purposes:

1. to catch the eye
2. to summarise the article or item below.
3. to invite the reader to read on.

How does a headline catch the eye?

· By means of large, prominent typeface - the graphic design catches the eye.

· Also be means of wordplay, frequently puns.

· A pun is a play on words which sound the same, maybe even are spelled the same, but have different , meanings. For example a bank may advertise its service using the headline: "we have an interest in you". The word interest is a pun based on the two meanings - interest paid on money which is borrowed or lent and interest as in being concerned to know about someone or something.

· Puns can be visual as well. Sometimes the headline may refer to a picture which is beside it.

A good headline will summarise the story which it heads up. It should be directly relevant to its story. This enables to reader to locate stories of interest to them quickly and accurately.

A good headline should invite the reader to read on. If the headline is accurate, witty and eye catching, the reader will be enticed to read on. Most readers are in a hurry and need to be enticed into a story.


'Thank You Sheri Much'

Headline in the sports section. Teddy Sheringham saved Manchester United from defeat at the hands of Arsenal. A neat headline which summarises the match outcome and includes the name of the key player.

'A Portrait of the Artist as a Tenner of Note'

This headline appeared in a newspaper above a story about the launch of the current Irish ten pound note. The 'tenner' features a picture of James Joyce, the author of 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'. Joyce had a very good (tenor) singing voice and considered becoming a classical singer before devoting his life to writing, to words rather than to notes as it were. His image was included on the note as part of a celebration of famous Irish writers.

So the headline writer manages to cram a great deal of information into the headline by means of puns which refer to the different aspects of the story. This type of headline seems to be more fun than a boring old series of sentences stating the same information. Wouldn't you agree?

'Taoiseach instrumental in launching bank for fiddlers'

Another newspaper headline. The Taoiseach launched an 'instrument bank' designed to recycle musical instruments for the benefit of young musicians.

The headline writer has managed another pun fest. The core noun in the headline, fiddlers, refers to the project to provide musical instruments for young musicians. It is supported by the word 'instrumental', punning on instruments. The collection of instruments becomes a bank and the musicians become fiddlers thus playing on suggestions of sleight of hand money dealings. So what could have been a simple and boring report becomes an eyecatching piece crowned with a memorable headline.