Headline writing as done in the comics


Pig, headline writer

There are plenty of places to learn about headline writing. You could get 10 terrific tips from the Poynter Institute’s Matt Thompson, an NPR product manager and veteran newspaper editor. The BBC’s “Teacher Resources” feature suggests how bloggers can broaden their reach with “search engine optimization” for beginners. And the University of Kansas has examples of what works and what doesn’t.

Great headlines, online or in print, for news or for advertising, are key to grabbing and keeping readers. Some of the best are unforgettable, often the work of tabloids that traffic in big type, puns and double entendres. They pack a ton of information into a compact space.

How not to write a headline

Click to learn how not to write a headline

Perhaps the most famous was the late Vincent Musetto’s “Headless Body in Topless Bar,” which ran in the New York Post.

But for a lesson in learning from your mistakes, we take you to Stephan Pastis, the syndicated cartoonist from Santa Rosa whose “Pearls Before Swine” comic strip graces the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle and hundreds of other newspapers worldwide. In this strip from Sept. 13, 2015, his character Pig is hired as a headline writer who has a tough assignment.

Tougher still: Counting the headline writing rules broken by Pig.