All Headlines Matter


Modified screen capture of cover image from article at THE VERGE

Based on the original image shown in modified form here as the cover image for this post, the article at The Verge dated 31 December 2013 looks like it's about a dog. Based on that H1-level headine (the H1), many people's first impression is negative, that the headline is either distracting or stupid. Based on the H2-level headline (the H2), however, the article promises the reader something unexpected. The Verge covers the ways technology will change life for us in the future, so that image seems a bit out of place and the H1 looks distracting at the least. In this particular situation, the payoff comes with the H2 that accompanies the cover image and H1. This situation shows the importance of this lesson: All headlines matter.

Actual screen capture of cover image from article at THE VERGE

How These Headlines Fit

Since it doesn't seem to fit the theme of The Verge, someone who isn't a pet person (or someone with a bad history with dogs) would skip this article.

The H1 is written to appeal to people who know about cryptocurrency, although as of New Year's Eve 2013 that was still a very small number of people.

It's the H2 which gives the reader a reason to read the article written at The Verge by Kyle Chayka.

Today we're in 2021, and most people have at least a passing knowledge of cryptocurrency in general, and Dogecoin in particular. We would have known enough to have a passing interest in that article. However, as of New Year's Eve 2013 few if any people had an idea what to expect.

Knowing that context, this situation shows how important it is to use headlines which get the job done for you. As important as H1 is, and it deserves as much attention as we can devote it making it as perfect as it can be, it's just as important to make sure that H2, H3, even H4 and H5 and H6 get the job done to support that H1.

We Tell 2 Stories When We Write

H1, H2, H3, and H4 Headlines

The Story We Want People To Read

We write posts or articles that we want others to read. It could be to engage with our readers and to gain not only earnings but also a following. It could be to support a side hustle or full-on enterprise. It could be to persuade people to buy something or to support your position in the debate of the day (whatever that is). It could even be as a class asignment. The bottom line is that when we write, we want our writings to be read.

The TL;DR Story

Depending on what we write, it could be too long for people to read in one sitting-- or it could be so long that people click away from the post, leaving what we write unread and our points not made.

Headlines of all kinds need to tell our story in a brief way. If all a reader had to read was headlines of all kinds, the headlines should give the reader a rough idea of the points we want to make.

When readers know who we are as writers, they can forgive us for our styles and even idiosyncracies and quirks. We earned their readership, and those readers believe thhat we deliver the goods for them.

For most readers who discover our writings for the first time-- and that's essentially the rest of the world's poplulation-- we need to convince them to give us a chance. That means the H1 needs to be compelling enough to be clicked. It also means that once the article or post is visible the H2's (and more subordinate headlines) need to let the reader travel along the article or post from start to finish. Just as one paragraph leads to another, each H2 leads to the next, each H3 backs up its H2, each H4 backs up its H3, etc.

If we take away paragraphs and images and are just left with th headlines, they sould be strong enough to tell our story. If they can do that, we can be sure that our writing has a fighting chance to be read.

For the reader to read all the headlines-- especially the later ones-- each headline needs to transition from one point to the next. We need to give readers a reson to keep reading, and headlines do that.

H1, H2, H3, and H4

Roleplaying, Headline Edition

H1 is our writing's ambassador to the world, and it needs to be compelling enough to bring people to our writing.

H2 is a subtopic of our writing, and it needs to be both clear and attractive (if not compelling). If H1 is like an feature film, then H2 is the back end of a double-feature. The H2 itself needs to be informative and entertaining.

H3 can be seen as a list header. If you make lists using short paragraphs, H3 can be used to turn the list into regular text. Depending on how your writing is formatted (here, a WordPress blog, commercial media, etc.) the H3 can make your "paragraph list" pop.

H4 is a list header used for an H3. Likewise with H5 and H6 (if you need that levvel of granularity).


Normally we think of H1 as the headline which gets all the attention, which is understandable. However, an above-average H1 paired with an above-average H2 canmake for an excellent headline pairing. This shows how important lowere-level headlines are in their own right.

When we write our stories-- posts, articles, etc.-- we'r actually writing 2 at the same time. One story is based on content (paragraphs, images, multimedia). The other, less obvious, story is based on the headings and subheadings we use as a way to summarize the other story. When TL;DR becomes a concern, the headlines need to tell the story quickly to give the reader one more chance to read our writing in full from start to finish to call to action.

Each level of headline has a role to play, and each subordinate headline is supposed to strengthen the parent headline.

Chances are, none of us will make a headline as legendary as "Headless Body in Topless Bar". Even so, we have the skills we need to lead readers to read what looks like an article about a dog only to discover it's a story about Doge.

About @magnacarta
My main focus is cryptocurrencies from a number of angles (educational, commentary, observations, even pop culture). A secondary focus is sharing my discoveries about the world of Hive social.

Most of my posts can be found at these two locations:
* LeoFinance :
* Proof of Brain :

For posts I make at other tribes or communities, start by going here to locate them :
* Ecency:

I also expect Festivus to take off in popularity in the coming years.

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