The purpose of a headline is to summarize the news content of an article in very few words. The headline should report the topic, and perhaps a main fact. It should also present the information in an interesting way, so that the reader is encouraged to read the article itself. All headlines include one or more of the following elements that attract a reader’s interest: newness or unusualness, personal relevance or consequences, and emotions.
Sometimes one headline is not enough to summarize the important information, so a second headline, in smaller letters, is added below the first. It is called a subheadline.
Syntax: newspaper editors differ somewhat as to the types of headlines they prefer. In the Times the average headline (8 to 9 words) is longer than in most papers, and it strongly favors the syntax (structure) of a typical English sentence: subject-verb-(completion). U.S. bombs Bagdad.
The second form for headlines is a noun phrase without a verb: Killer’ cane!
Or, more often, they are or include a prepositional phrase: Sting on the jungle.
A headline is often elliptical; that means that some words have been omitted from the sentence or phrase in order to make it shorter. [The] Prime ministers of [the] two Koreas agree to meet. The verb is often left out: Otsuki [is] found guilty of murder.
Verbs: are usually in a present tense, which emphasizes the immediacy of the report.
Infinitives are used to convey future: Liz Taylor, 8th husband [are] to be wed this week.
Present tense headlines are sometimes written in the passive voice to emphasize the object. Westchester mayor said to be near death.
Numbers may appear alone, they refer to a number of people: Anti-smoking efforts will save 3 million. Or age: Boy, 6, killed by 18-wheeler.
Fun with words.
Alliteration: Get fat as a pig & feel fit as a fiddle … say experts. Sad Sox Battle Bronx Bombers.