30+ Ultimate Headline Formulas for Tweets, Posts, Articles, and Emails

headline formulasA headline can serve either as an apple pie on the windowsill of your content or as its bouncer. It’s all in the way you phrase things.

Fortunately for us, many people have found headlines that work wonders, consistently, time after time. And they go well beyond the saturated listicle or clickbait.

Why not take some inspiration from the best headlines of the best headline writers?

The blueprints exist to get your tweets, emails, updates, and articles clicked.

I collected a trove of interesting and actionable headline formulas from some of the best sources for headline writing, and I’ve tossed in a few of our favorite Buffer headline formulas, too. Is there a tried-and-true headline routine that you always come back to? See if it’s listed here among these sure bets, or leave it in the comments.

Exclusive Bonus: Download a free PDF of the Best Headline Formulas!

The science and psychology of a must-click headline

On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.

This oft-cited quote from advertising guru David Ogilvy might be putting it mildly. Take a recent, popular tweet from my timeline. Over 3,800 people saw the tweet. Fifty people clicked. That’s 76 times more people seeing the headline as reading the story.

Twitter analytics

Phew. We headline writers have our work cut out for us.

Outside the realm of social, Copyblogger has found that the ratio for headline-reading to article-reading falls closer in line with Ogilvy’s famous statement. Per Copyblogger, eight out of 10 people will read your headline. Two out of 10 will read the rest of what you wrote.

Further, KISSmetrics has reported that readers tend to absorb the first three words of a headline and the last three words, making a six-word headline ideal. But how often do we write six-word headlines? Whenever we write longer, it’s important to remember exactly which words will carry the most weight—those at the start and those at the end.

[Tweet "Readers absorb the first 3 and last 3 words of a headline. Start strong, finish with a flourish."]

One final thought about headlines (and then I’ll get to the formulas, I promise!) is a bit of a Buffer M.O.: action steps based on psychology. We enjoy pairing the work of headline writing with the science of human psychology. With that in mind, here are eight headline strategies that are backed by psychology.

  1. Surprise – “This Is Not a Perfect Blog Post (But It Could’ve Been)”
  2. Questions – “Do You Know How to Create the Perfect Blog Post?”
  3. Curiosity gap – “10 Ingredients in a Perfect Blog Post. Number 9 Is Impossible!”
  4. Negatives – “Never Write a Boring Blog Post Again”
  5. How to – “How to Create a Perfect Blog Post”
  6. Numbers – “10 Tips to Creating a Perfect Blog Post”
  7. Audience referencing – “For People on the Verge of Writing the Perfect Blog Post”
  8. Specificity – “The 6-Part Process to Getting Twice the Traffic to Your Blog Post”

I’ve said before that 90 percent of good headline-writing is obsessing over the perfect headline.

The other 10 percent might be picking the appropriate headline formula.

Here’re thirty of the best formulas I’ve found.

The Ultimate Headline Formula

Lenka Istvanova of Koozai Marketing developed a headline formula based on her analysis of best practices for headlines that get clicks. The formula goes like this:

Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rationale + Promise

Ex. 10 Simple Steps You Can Take Today That Will Make You Happier

Ultimate Headline Formula

Betteridge’s Law of Headlines

The headline formula in this case is rather straightforward: Be careful asking questions.

Betteridge’s law of headlines was dreamed up by British technology journalist Ian Betteridge after noticing a growing trend in question headlines around the web. The law states:

Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.

Ex. This headline from Fast Company—“Can A Photographer Truly Capture Love?”—could be answered by the word no, so instead, we could rewrite the headline to “The Impossible Task of Capturing Love in Photos: How These Photographers Pulled It Off.”

[Do something] like [world-class example]

Gatorade’s “Be Like Mike” campaign is one of the best examples of tying a desired result with a desirable entity. If you don’t have a Michael Jordan to attach to your headline, you can go generic, too.

Ex. Blog Like an All-Star

Bonus headline opportunity! Via Joanna Wiebe at Copy Hackers, here’s an updated version of the “Be Like Mike.”

[Do Something Desirable] Like [an Expert] Without [Something Expected & Undesirable]

Ex. Blog Like an All-Star – Without Bankrupting Your Free Time

Interesting adjectives + unique nouns

Jeff Goins believes in the multifaceted power of choosing the right word. His headline-writing formula calls for interesting adjectives and unique nouns, whenever possible. Basically, Goins advises to never write a headline that begins with “11 Things…”

Ex. Awe-Inspiring Examples, Painstaking Lessons, Can’t-Miss Takeaways, Brilliant Strategies, Underrated Ideas

[Amazing Headline]: Subhead

This one flies in the face of the 6-word headline strategy mentioned above, yet long ones like these can really pack a punch with specificity and the right words. Start with a great opener, place a colon, add a complementary headline.

Ex. The Fine Art of the Apostrophe: How to Master the Most Difficult Punctuation Problems

SHINE headlines

Writing at KISSmetrics, Bnonn outlines a five-part formula that should apply to every headline. The acronym SHINE works itself out like this:

S – Specificity

H – Helpfulness

I – Immediacy

N – Newsworthiness

E – Entertainment value

Ex. The Best Five Minutes (immediacy) You’ll Spend Today (entertainment): The Latest Tips (newsworthy) From Buffer (specificity) on Getting More Followers (helpfulness)

The SEO-heavy headline

Most of the headlines mentioned here can incorporate SEO keywords into the formulas in a pinch. This one, via Unbounce, just happens to call out the SEO element explicitly.

[Adjective] & [Adjective] [What You Are / SEO Keyword Phrase] That Will [Highly Desirable Promise of Results]

Ex. New and Useful Content Marketing Trends That Will Drive You More Traffic

Who Else Wants ____

Here’s a classic social proof formula, implying that many folks have already expressed a desire for [blank]. It’s one of many formulas used by John Caples, author of Tested Advertising Methods.

Ex. Who Else Wants an Easier Way to Share to Social Media?

The Secret of ______

This one can work in a couple fun ways: Sharing insider knowledge on a topic or sharing transparently from your own warchest of secrets.

Ex. The Secret of Writing Killer Blog Content on a Near-Daily Basis

Little Known Ways to _______

The cousin of “The Secret of” headline, this one takes a bit of a different, intriguing angle and, if viewed in the right light, could even offer a challenge to readers. “Little known ways? Ha! I bet I know them!”

Ex. Little Known Ways to Get More Traffic From Social

Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]

Copyblogger’s Brian Clark shared 10 popular headline formulas, some of which you’ve seen in this list and all of which have a good background in experience and history. The benefits of this headline are clear: timely and helpful, e.g. a fast method to fix a problem.

Ex. Here’s a Quick Way to Clean Up Your Profile Page

Have a / Build a ______ You Can Be Proud Of

If you cringe a bit to see a headline end in a preposition, I’m sorry. This one might not be for you. However, it does do a good job of appealing to our sense of pride, improvement, and self-satisfaction.

Ex. Build an Online Community You Can Be Proud Of

What Everybody Ought to Know About _______

This one is another good mix of social proof and challenge. It gets others involved and piques curiosity about whether or not you already know the info in the article.

Ex. What Everybody Ought to Know About Marketing on Pinterest

[Number] Lessons I Learned From ______

Sherice Jacobs, writing at the Daily Egg blog, shared 15 headline formulas (another of which you’ll see below), and her first was my favorite. This one grabs attention because it’s reassuring; it gives people an example to follow and comfort knowing someone has tried, experimented, and learned from an experience already.

Ex. 17 Lessons I Learned From Writing a New Blog Post Every Day for a Month

How to Survive Your First _______

Similar to the headline formula above, this one treads the inspiring waters of reassurance. People love having a roadmap to follow.

Ex. How to Survive Your First 40 Days of Work on a Distributed Team

Headline formulas

Peter Sandeen’s How To Headlines

Blogger Peter Sandeen put together an incredible resource of over 100 headline formulas, categorized into helpful classifications. For instance, we’re all familiar with the traditional How To headlines. Here’s Sandeen’s take on some alternatives to the tried-and-true how-to.

How to ____

How to ____ – The Essential Guide

How to ____ like ____

How to ____ even if / without ____

How to ____ while ____

How to use ____ to ____

How to ____ in five easy steps

Ex. How to Get More Reach on Facebook Without Paying a Dime

Headline. A little something extra.

Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income and Jerod Morris of Copyblogger have used this headline formula to great effect. Basically, highlight a little something extra from the proposition of your main headline. This is most often seen with listicles where you’ll start with the listicle headline and then mention a particular element of one of the items.

Ex. 13 Awesome Ways to Build a Following on Facebook. We’re Trying #5 Today.

Copyblogger shared a non-hype version of this headline formula: How to Build an Audience with Story (From America’s Greatest Living Playwright)

The mini-headline: 4 words or fewer

I have a very hard time keeping headlines brief. At Buffer, we tend to prefer the longer, more descriptive headlines. At the same time, you can find a lot of success with mini-headlines, too. Take Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits blog, for instance.

Here’s a sampling of recent Zen Habits headlines:

  • Don’t Waste a Moment
  • How to Be Great
  • Making Yourself Work
  • Inhabit the Moment

Our go-to Buffer headline formulas

We’ve got a few tropes that we often come back to at the Buffer blog, cultivated over time (and much experimentation) by our co-founder Leo. Here are a few of our most-used headline formulas.

The Double Whammy

If there’re two headlines we like a lot (and they’re different enough from each other), we’ll use both. In the same headline. This idea works similar to the subhead example listed above.

Headline + Headline

Ex. 14 Advanced Twitter Tips: 14 Strategies to Get the Most Out of Twitter

The Amuse-Bouche

We’ll pull out one or two items from a listicle and lead with those elements, followed by the actual listicle headline.

Item and Item: Listicle

Ex. The Burrito Principle and Beyond: 12 New Marketing Ideas That Are Memorable, Actionable, and Useful

_____, backed by science

Since many of our articles aim for a research-backed angle, we often attempt to call this out in the headline. When “backed by science” doesn’t fit, we may try “research-backed” in place of an adjective.

Ex. Happiness Hacks: The 10 Most Unexpected Ways to Be Happy, Backed By Science

The Ultimate Guide to ____, The Beginner’s Guide to ____

We love guides here at Buffer. They’re super useful pieces of evergreen content that readers expect to contain everything they’d need to know about a topic.

Ex. The Ultimate Guide to Repurposing Content: 12 Ways to Extend the Life of Every Article You Write

The Big List of ____

When our listicles get really epic, we like to tag them with “The Big List” to denote that it’s a really comprehensive look at whatever it is we’re blogging about. And this tends to work well: Our “big list” posts often score quite high in social shares and traffic.

Ex. The Big List of 189 Words That Convert: Write Copy That Gets Your Customer’s Attention Every Time

Short, sweet, numbered, and interesting

Neil Patel and the Quick Sprout team put together a comprehensive infographic about what makes a good headline, covering pretty much every element you could imagine. The end result:

Number or Trigger Word + Interesting Adjective + Keyword + Promise (as near to six words as possible)

Ex. 13 Far-fetched Headlines You Must Investigate

The Formula For a Perfect Headline

 

When in doubt, write 25 headlines

Upworthy’s famous editorial process was one of the keys to the explosion in popularity of their content. Upworthy wrote 25 headlines for every story, tested the best ones, and went with the winner.

Here are their rules for writing amazing headlines:

upworthy headline rules

Writing 25 headlines sounds like a good idea in practice, but really, have you ever heard of anyone actually doing this?

The Blinkist team tried this for a week with four different articles, using a two-person team to write and rank 25 headlines per story. Caitlin at Blinkist describes it in this way:

Realtalk: half of the headlines you create will be ridiculous, some of them won’t make any sense at all, and plenty of others will fall flat and boring. But man, is it satisfying when you strike upon one that’s music to your ears.

She and her teammate collaborated on writing all 25 headlines, they each chose their three favorites, and whichever headlines were favorites on both lists moved on to testing. Blinkist used the Buffer Twitter test for headlines to choose the ultimate winner.

I tried the 25-headline challenge myself for this article. Here’re all the ones I came up with. Is there a favorite of yours on the list that is different than the final choice?

  1. Headline Formulas of the Stars: 37 Magic Ways to Get Your Content Clicked and Read
  2. How to Write Headlines Like Don Draper
  3. Who Else Wants the Secrets of the World’s Best Headline Writers?
  4. 30+ Headline Formulas Your Content Needs to Be Seen and Clicked
  5. How to Write 25 Headlines For Every Piece of Content
  6. What I Learned From Writing 25 Headlines for Every Piece of Content
  7. What Everybody Ought to Know About Quality Headline Writing Formulas
  8. Write a Clickable Headline – Without Losing Your Soul
  9. How to Use Formulas to Write Perfect Headlines Every Time
  10. Here’re 30 Quick Ways to Write 30 Can’t-Miss Headlines
  11. What Gatorade Knows About Writing a Great Headline
  12. The Ultimate Headline Formulas for Tweets, Posts, Articles, and Emails
  13. Try These 30+ Headline Formulas. You’re Reading No. 17 Right Now.
  14. 30 Ways to Make Your Headline Sing
  15. 30 Tried-and-True Headline Formulas You Can Test Today
  16. Get More Clicks on Your Content: Trust a Headline Formula to Get the Job Done
  17. Everything I Learned From Studying the Best Headline Formulas
  18. Build a Headline You Can Be Proud Of (And Others Will Click)
  19. Why Headline Formulas Are the Way to Go – And Which Ones Work Best
  20. The Double Whammy, the Big List, and More: 30 of the Best Headline Formulas
  21. Write Headlines Like a Magician
  22. The Most Important Tool in Your Content Toolbox: Headline Formulas
  23. 30+ Headline Formulas That Work, or Your Money Back
  24. Think Writing 25 Headlines Is Impossible? Not With These Formulas
  25. The Secret Headline Formulas That the Internet’s Best Articles Use

(Total time spent brainstorming: 11 minutes.)

Your turn

Which headline formulas do you rely on for your tweets, posts, blogs, and emails? 

I loved sharing a bit behind-the-scenes about how we write headlines at Buffer, as well as how some of the best headline writers in the business get their work done. And armed with so many formulas, writing an Upworthy-amount of headlines per story doesn’t seem so daunting. Think it might be a challenge you try? I’d be keen to hear how it goes.

Chat with you in the comments!

Image credits: Marcus Spiske, Quick Sprout

  • http://frantic-naturalist.com/ Vernon Swanepoel

    Wow, I think I’ll just keep this post open in a browser tab for as long as I blog!

    Here’s a new headline for this post:

    “EVERYTHING you’ll ever need to know about writing headlines”

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      I would click on that! :)

      • http://frantic-naturalist.com/ Vernon Swanepoel

        I’m fairly sure that has become my most visited blog post of all time.

        Every time I write something, I come take another quick look. I’ve trained my browser, I just need to type “bl” and my auto suggest is already bringing me back here!

  • Annalise Kaylor

    There is a wealth of fantastic advice in this post, but the second part of any secret recipe is delivering. I mean, The Onion went so far as to launch Clickhole.com because eyeroll-worthy headline tactics have become so mainstream (thank you Buzzfeed and Upworthy). There is a fine line between headlines that captivate and clickbait, and it’s one that marketers best heed.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi Annalise! Great point! I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. An amazing headline should be supported with amazing content – content that makes good on what the headline promises.

  • http://thepersuasionrevolution.com/ thepersuasionrevolution.com

    What an epic post Kevan. Like always, every time I get an email from you, I tell myself it can’t be anything new. .After all what else is there to know about online business. …buttttttt, you never ever cease to surprise me.
    I have my trusted swipe file with a good 50-60 headlines but I think I will go and update the file now with your suggestions.
    Here’s the post and the file if you feel like taking a look:

    http://www.thepersuasionrevolution.com/rules-for-persuasive-headline-and-swipe-files/

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi there Bushra! Thanks so much for the comment! I’m really glad this one – and many others – have felt worthy of a click. :)

      I really enjoyed looking at your swipe file and post! I bookmarked it for some future research. :) Thanks for the tip!

      • http://thepersuasionrevolution.com/ thepersuasionrevolution.com

        My Pleasure always. I have been pimping you and your blog so much that today I got accused of being paid to promote you guys. THAT is how much I love your stuff!

  • janet

    hi kevan great post! could u help me out- i dont have a cell phone and am having a terrible time trying to make my images show up on tweets. I have included “pic.twitter.com” in my tweet, but when i go on twitter the pics don’t show up- instead you have to click on “view photo”- however on my full profile page in twitter they show up.. any ideas… i use my desktop exclusively..

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi Janet! Hmm, interesting question! What I typically do with sharing images to Twitter is use the Buffer dashboard or Buffer extension and either drag the picture into my tweet (via the Buffer dashboard) or click on a picture in a story and share from the extension. Would either of these options help?

      • janet

        not really- i don’t want my pics to come from this site- (i want them to originate from my twitter acct..- and besides i thought that this was a private blog.. not a public site.. not sure still..still looking for help on how to post an image on a tweet without seeing the dreaded “view photo” lol so if u can ask some techies that would be great.. lol

  • Ruth

    Kevan, I really love your posts, but I find the real meat is in the infographics, and similar, can we have less text and more charts/videos/graphics please ?

    • Golfing journalist

      I don’t agree – the text is the most important information for me

      • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

        Thanks for the conversation on this! Visuals/graphics/charts/etc is definitely something I can keep striving for with every post – along with many meaningful words. :) I’ll continue working toward a good balance here!

        • http://phylliskhare.com/ Phyllis Khare

          but no Pinterest icon…..

    • Lynette Reeves

      I love the infographics for sharing with colleagues who aren’t doing this regularly, but I find the exact opposite – I love the main content first.

  • TakeActionWAHM

    I find that when I see a “Kevan Lee” byline, I’m absolutely compelled to click /shameless kissing up

    Seriously though, every time, absolutely awesome, well researched content. Very much appreciated.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks! Really glad these articles are helpful for you!

  • http://writespeaksell.com jeannettepaladino

    Sorry, but I think the final headline is too generic. You’re targeting everyone. I like Write Headlines Like a Magician. It’s a grabber. Also like #17 and #14.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi Jeannette! Thanks so much for suggesting some alternatives! We’re testing some other options, too. You might see the headline change before long! :)

  • http://customericare.com Aurelie Chazal

    Great post as usual! I usually write about 15-20 different headlines, as you point out it doesn’t take long to brainstorm and it can give birth to interesting original ideas.

    I sometimes use Portent’s content idea generator (http://www.portent.com/tools/title-maker) to get inspired, I seldom go with one of their titles but I find it super useful to get inspired. Maybe Buffer could develop a tool like that with all your formulas and ideas. I know I’d use it :D

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi there Aurelie! Sounds like a headline tool could be really valuable! I’ve used Hubspot’s blog topic generator, too. It’s kinda fun! :)

      http://www.hubspot.com/blog-topic-generator

      • http://customericare.com Aurelie Chazal

        I tried Hubspot’s tool also, I like it but they have a really limited database so now I use Portent’s because I feel like they update theirs. Plus the titles can be really funny :)

      • beachbum

        I wrote a comment that was very long and it got erased so now I’m go to tell you that I’ve started on etsy in 2011 on my 3 yr anniversary I realized how I get 50 to 100 follows on sites I’m on top of and others I’m learning. Twitter I only said forgive me I have no idea what I’m doing but I’m mentioned in so many then I have followers even though I’ve put it off on a list for things to do. I have a serect board where I discovered ways to use common words, topics or ideas to make an awesome topic, how I discover, create, and make my beach items unique which makes them stand out, along the way design my blog after researching and share for no budget blog and post a list already made and adding to it of the funny mishaps along the way and they are really great things that will help new business feel better. I also have a shop to purchase beach items and sharing what so many people are amazed life’s journey to follow my dream place alone in a town where I no no one, how I’m redecorating my beachy cottage as i wait for the most incredible townhouse because I want it all and it’s along the coast. I’m filling in pages and tweaking my blog but after the xmas bazaar I will have more consistent content. I hope you are curious to see how I gathered all of these things oh and when I create the most usually and very creative way to turn an item people never knew
        Thanks Michelle
        http://www.madefromtheocean.blogspot.com
        Myshop
        http://www.etsy/shop/madefromtheocean
        Items to heavy to ship
        http://www.facebook.com/madefromtheocean
        Here’s a seek peak. I made a pallet beach sofa with huge pillows when I asked a many yards and what’s the total for one pillow it was $35.00 so as I go up and down every aisle (I mean it too) I found sea shell linen shower curtains that are 11.99 aND made two huge pillows now who thinks like that.
        Michelle

  • David Colgate

    Awesome post with tons and tons of useful info – bookmarked and will be referred to often.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks, David!

  • http://stancebranding.com/ Justine Espersen

    You’re constantly giving such great posts :) This one is really helpful and I’ll definitely be sure to put it to use. Thanks for your continued hard work!

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi there Justine! Really glad you liked this one! Thanks!

  • michaeltbal

    Sta­­­­­­­­­rt wor­­­­­­­­­ki­­­­­­­­­ng at ho­­­­­­­­­me wi­­­­­­­­­th Goog­­­­­­­­­le! It­­­­­­­­­’s b­­­­­­­­­y-far t­­­­­­­­­he be­­­­­­­­­st jo­­­­­­­­­b I’v­­­­­­­­­e ha­­­­­­­­­d. La­­­­­­­­­st Wedn­­­­­­­­­esday I g­­­­­­­­­ot a bra­­­­­­­­­nd n­­­­­­­­­ew BM­­­­­­­­­W si­­­­­­­­­nce ge­­­­­­­­­tting a che­­­­­­­­­ck f­­­­­­­­­or $64­­­­­­­­­74 th­­­­­­­­­is – 4 wee­­­­­­­­­ks pa­­­­­­­­­st. I be­­­­­­­­­gan th­­­­­­­­­is 8-mon­­­­­­­­­ths ag­­­­­­­­­o an­­­­­­­­­d immedi­­­­­­­­­ately wa­­­­­­­­­s bri­­­­­­­­­nging hom­­­­­­­­­e at lea­­­­­­­­­st $77 p­­­­­­­­­er ho­­­­­­­­­ur. I w­­­­­­­­­ork thr­­­­­­­­­ough thi­­­­­­­­­s l­­­­­­­­­ink, g­­­­­­­­­o to t­­­­­­­­­ech ta­­­­­­­­­b f­­­­­­­­­or wo­­­­­­­­­rk de­­­­­­­­­tail.

    ——— http://new-payatom.com

    —————————————————————

  • http://phylliskhare.com/ Phyllis Khare

    FAB post, but I’m trying to figure out who you don’t have Pinterest on your social sharing icons, and why the Pin It button seems to be blocked here. I’m just curious.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi there Phyllis! Thanks for the great question! We’re always on the lookout for ways to improve, and it seems like some better Pinterest share options could be a quick win! I’m not sure there’s any major reason why it’s not there currently; my gut is that maybe it’d make things a bit too busy? Definitely something we could test!

  • http://www.praverb.net/ Praverb

    Great post Kevan. I actually spent time writing blog headlines when I was lacking inspiration. It is amazing how many titles you come up with by brainstorming.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Great point! Yes, I’ve even found that headline writing (in bunches) helps me find and discover the keyword and focus of the article, too!

    • kristythomas014

      <<< I just got paid $7500 working off my
      computer this month. And if you think that's cool, my friend has twin toddlers
      and made over $8k her first month. It feels so good making so much money when
      other people have to work for so much less. This is what I do,

      ➜➜➜➜➜➜➜ Cashfeed40.com

  • Ahmad Kanj

    Powerful ! Thank you Kevan .

  • David Wodzak

    This is an awsome post Kevan. Why there is no ‘Print’ option in the left sharing toolbar. Just printed this article in a pdf file to preserve it for eternity ! While I liked the entire article, I think that you have given too much options in the form of formulas. It is sort of confusing the reader. There are 30 of them !. I would love to know the one single formula out of these 30 you would choose if given a choice ?

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi David! Great suggestion to make this printable! I’ll see what I can do!

      And indeed, 30+ formulas is quite a handful. Sorry if I overwhelmed with the info here! My personal favorites are the “Ultimate Guide” and “Everything You Ought to Know,” and that may be because they fit the content we write at Buffer so well!

  • Jill Teyu

    Hi Kevan, I’m a new blogger and came entirely from the other side of your world. I am asian. But your post has so many ideas for me to think about. This is so inspiring and I have lots to learn.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Awesome to hear, Jill!

  • Joe Heywood

    Simply superb, Kevan. I’ve seen so many posts that claim to be the ‘ultimate resource for headline writing’ and none of them have even come close to this. Genuinely learnt a lot from this. Please keep this kind of class up!

    Joe

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks, Joe!

  • Joseph Maher-Edgin

    Another great, information-rich article, Kevan. Fantastic and must-read for any copywriters out there!

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Hi, Joseph! Really glad this one was useful for you!

  • Dubem Menakaya

    Wow that was really useful, thank you Kevan! I had just finished a blog post so I’m going to put one of these to use ASAP :)

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Awesome to hear, Dubem! Which headline did you use? :)

  • http://notoriouslycurious.com Niki Torres

    Thanks Kevan for this article. Definitely bookmarking this for future reference.

  • Tom Purcell

    First time here. Great article Kevan. And you’ve answered all the comments – that’s real commitment.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Thanks, Tom! Welcome to the blog! Really glad this article was helpful for you. :)

  • http://www.kioware.com KioWare Lockdown Software

    Very interesting and super helpful cheat sheet! Thanks much for pulling all of this together.

  • http://www.dataiku.com/ Pauline Brown

    Thank you! Great article – I’ll definitely be using some of these formulas!!

  • Miriam Illions

    Kevan, i was so engrossed in your post that I missed my stop on the train to work this morning. :-)

  • Will Phoenix

    I personally like the one about police running down jaywalkers. It’s a good example of a novelty headline and I would say a bad example of a failed headline. Mind you, I am an old school newspaper guy.

  • http://nicklafond.me @thinkB1G

    Fantastic article, Mr. Lee. Comprehensive list for all copywriters, that is uber-actionable.

  • Kate Blinets

    A great article! As usual!

  • Arvindra Singh Kanwal

    Great Post Kevan, I have built India.com in three years from nothing to a 40 Mn UU property .Though i did focus on metrics ,never could add value to the creative process.Your blog is an eye opener and I feel we could have done significantly better had i read your post earlier.Like you said Upworthy is great social proof .In my self funded start up I am the business and copy guy .Thanks very much .this is a document I will keep coming back to

  • StartupsGalore

    Kevan…I’m voting this the #1 most valuable article EVER written. Somethings in life you come across something so valuable that it makes you say to yourself, “Wow this is what awesome looks like.”

    Thank you {sincerely} for the effort you put into this article. You’ve just hit a grand slam home run. Now, I’ll follow you and see what other great content you have blessed the world with.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Michael-N.-Marcus/e/B002BOH4FM/ mnmarcus

    Years ago I was an “award-winning Madison Avenue copywriter.” I took great pride in my words but was always willing to “cut copy” to make an ad look better. I knew that a few people will read entire ads, some will read just the headlines, but a huge number of people look at the pictures, read nothing, and move on.

    • http://blog.bufferapp.com Kevan

      Great perspective here! Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  • Steve VanHove

    This is the most concise and comprehensive guide to headline writing I’ve ever come across! I will start using these immediately! Thank you Kevan!

  • aleksandra atanasova

    Very useful tips, thank you! Not agreeing that the numbering formula works that well though: it’s overexploited and repetitive, so many headlines start with numbers these days. Def think we should leave this formula alone for a while.

  • http://afroniquelyu.com/ afroniquely | shae

    Kevan always delivers! Excellent post sir!

  • JELindholm

    What a fantastic article. I know what my HW is tonight.

  • http://www.lindsaysocial.com/ Lindsay Schuster

    This post is exactly what I needed right now- Thank you! I definitely need to start trying different variations instead of coming up with just one.

  • Kendra@ HeyKendra.com

    Hands down one of the most informative and actionable resources on headlines I’ve encountered. Bookmarked so I can re-read a zillion times. Think I could tattoo this on the back of my eyelids to read over while I sleep too? Yeah, it’s that good ;)

  • Megan Kellar

    Thanks this was an awesome read!
    I have used Portents content idea generator for headlines, read through blogs, ebooks, headline list sheets etc and this blog is by far the best. You showed the research and great examples. I will definitely be using this for future reference!

  • Neil

    Great practical tips – I will using these soon.

    Thanks very much.

  • http://ClearAgainMedia.com John Arnott

    Hey Kevan, Thanks for this. I put a headline tool on my website that works like mad-libs. Basically, you answer questions about your product or service as nouns, verbs, & gerunds and it auto-generates the headlines. I would like to hear what you think. It can be found at http://contentfirst.marketing/headlinetool/ Have a great week!