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Misleading Titles

I clicked on the headline for the online news source: “110 Arrested at (company name) HQ.”

The headline definitely got my attention. It sounded like a story about a massive legal or financial breakdown in a large corporation. I couldn’t imagine what had transpired to cause so many employees to be arrested at one time.

The page I landed on had a different headline. One key word was different. “110 Arrested Outside (company name) HQ.” Now I was reading an article about protesters outside a corporate headquarters prior to an annual meeting. The word “outside” implied a very different story than the word “at.”

The original headline was effective in that I did click on the link. However, once I landed on the article, I felt misled as a reader. The article wasn’t what I expected.

Titles matter – for books, magazines, articles, web content. Titles should draw the attention of the reader, make the reader pause long enough to want to know more, and inspire the reader to action. However, a title also has to deliver on its promise. Once the reader picks up the book, opens the magazine, reads the article or web content, they want the title to deliver the story that they were promised.

Great titles are intriguing and compelling; and great titles truly reflect the story behind the title.

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1 Comment

  1. I’ve largely given up on trusting the headline of any web article since almost all of them are solely written to generate click-throughs…and next to none deliver on the actual content. And, yes, it does completely erode the ethos of the source after they do that a few times.

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