Articles have titles. Email appears under a subject line. Newsletters use headlines. Each is a way of answering the readers’ question, “What are you writing about?”
Answer that question well and your readers will stick with you. Leave them wondering and they toss that newsletter into the trash or hit that delete button on the keyboard. You might as well never have written anything!How do you ensure that your readers know at a glance what you're writing about? Click To Tweet
Knowing what you’re writing about–your topic–is the first order of business for your readers. But you, the writer, may start with a topic…or only discover it at the end.
Some people write on a schedule. (I publish my blog every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, for instance.) If you do, you will find it useful to have a communications calendar. Write down at least the general topic for each day, ahead of time. That way, when you sit down to write, you won’t be staring at a blank screen, waiting for inspiration to strike.
Plug the topic on your calendar into the title, subject line, or headline, and your readers will know what to expect. But you’ve made them a promise. After your first draft, check what you’ve written is what the title says it’s supposed to be!
Whether or not you plan your writing ahead, sometimes you write something unexpected. Inspiration strikes, or a news item springs up suddenly that you just have to address. In those cases, you may have a sense of what you want to say without yet knowing exactly the point you want to make.
I’d still suggest putting a general subject line or title at the head of the piece. Consider that a placeholder. Write your first draft to discover what it is you’re writing about. Then, and only then, settle on the topic you want to present to your reader–and go back and use that instead.
Topic bestGive as much thought to your title as you give to all the rest of the article. Click To Tweet
On average, your readers will take three seconds to decide whether to bother reading what you wrote. What can they see in three seconds?
- Photos and captions
- Text in bold
- Subheadings, and, most of all…
- Headline, subject line, or title
Make sure your readers can see what you’re talking about–and what’s in it for them. When you start writing, when you finish, or possibly both, take all the time you need to make that title sing.
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