The title of this blog is not terribly helpful. Titles and headings work best when they give you a summary of the content, or at least enough to attract your attention.
Today I spotted this sign near our office:
Giving a public notice like this a title of ‘public notice’ is a bit like giving a book a title of ‘book’. I can see it’s a book. To label it as a ‘book’ would be to waste valuable space that the publishers could use for something more enticing. Like the title, the author, or a picture – something that hints at the content of said book and why I might want to read it. And in bookshops there are a lot of books vying for my attention. Each might only have a fraction of a second of my time to grab me.
Public notices also have to work hard to get, er, noticed. The one in the photo is working hard in many ways – it’s colourful, with pictures. The copy is short, and in a nice big font. Someone’s clearly put some thought into it. But it doesn’t tell you at a glance what it’s about or why you might want to read it.
I guess the main audience for this is drivers of diesel cars. So maybe put the word diesel in the title. Something like ‘Drive a diesel?’ or ‘New diesel charge’.
You can apply the same principle to any heading or title in any document. Rather than give a section of information a heading like ‘Important’, tell me what it’s about – then I’ll know why it’s important and why I should read it. If you have limited space for your big heading, use a subheading or standfirst to tell me more.
Other things you might like
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What Newsround’s Catalonia coverage teaches us about writing complex stuff
What technology companies can teach us about talking like humans