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Copywriting Guidelines How-Tos

7 Tips on How to Write Headlines, Subheads, and Bullet Lists

Make the most of your heads, subheads, and bullet lists.

Here are 7 tips:

Writing headlines

  1. If your headline makes a promise, your subheadings should pay off that promise. Additionally, with subheads, you can make it easy for readers to scan and understand your message.
  2. On web pages, your headline should be your H1 and your subheads H2. That tells search engines what’s important and the page’s hierarchy of information. Your headings and subheadings should contain your keywords and phrases.
  3. If your headline says “10 tips…”, make each tip a subheading and number them, so readers can quickly see there are 10. Readers unconsciously look to see whether you’ve delivered what you promised. If you said 10, they want to see 10.

Writing numbers and bullet lists

  1. When using numbers in headlines, remember that three or five are the most popular. Use numbers not words in headings. So, write 3 instead of three. Numbers communicate faster than words. Small numbers suggest the reader can digest the information quickly. Ten is the next most popular number. We have 10 fingers, 10 toes. In general, use odd numbers rather than even. You’ll notice there are seven tips here, not six or eight. Sometimes quirky numbers work… 37 tips for… They seem so specific, yet odd. Eye- catching.
  2. If your copy has many benefits, write them in a bullet list rather than paragraph style. Bullets are easier to scan.
  3. If you’re using bullets (rather than numbers), try not to use more than five in one group. A list of twenty-five bullets is hard on the eyes. Readers zone out. Break them up into groups in the copy.
  4. Don’t use weird symbols or graphics for bullets. It’s distracting. Your readers shouldn’t be intrigued by your choice of graphics for the bullets.

About Andy Strote

I’ve been a copywriter in six ad agencies, worked freelance from my home leading a virtual agency, and founded two agencies that grew to 30 and 28 people respectively. The first agency was acquired by an IT company, and I retired from the second one. Check out my website.

By strote

Andy Strote is the author of How to Start a Successful Creative Agency. This book is for copywriters, designers, filmmakers, photographers, and programmers who provide creative services to corporations and organizations.

Andy was the co-founder of two successful agencies, Fireworks Creative and Context Creative. Fireworks was acquired five years after its founding. After 15 years at Context Andy retired to work for a select group of clients and work on his own projects.

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