“Top Tips for Holiday Health!”
As regular readers no doubt know, I’m a sucker for alliteration, puns and Cosmo style punchy headlines. In fact, my favourite part of editing the magazine is taking a topic like hemorrhoids (see last month’s issue) and inserting a “pain in the butt” joke in the headline (see what I did there?....inserting). Also a propos of this particular example, a shoutout to our Art Director, Cam North, who comes up with visual gems like the cactus in the toilet image which ran with the article.
Sometimes our writers write their own snappy headlines. Most, knowing my predilections, don’t even bother to provide them any more. They know I’m going to monkey with their draft. Obviously, there are subjects that scream out for artistic licence. Take the hemorrhoids article (again). I could have gone with “Piles of Pain” or “Avoid the ‘Rrhoids”. Other topics, such as tax planning, don’t lend themselves to fun and games. So I go with “Top Tips for….”.
1. Enumeration is catchy. 2. Punctuation usually plays a role. A well-placed exclamation point is worth a thousand words. But there’s such a thing as overkill. You can’t have too many headlines per issue with them, and any more than one exclamation point is excessive!!! And 3. Question marks make the reader think that you’re addressing them directly, don’t they?
Headlines, of course, serve a legitimate purpose. Done properly they both inform the reader of the content and entice the reader to consume the content. I know that if I miss the mark, you may not read the article. But, I also know that if I get you to start reading the article, you’ll probably finish it, ...presuming it’s informative, entertaining and of a reasonable length...even if the article itself doesn’t fully meet the promise of the headline.
Take this article. You thought you’d get some top tips for holiday health, and here we are discussing magazine puffery...and you’re still reading. You probably didn’t notice the quotation marks in the headline. And even if you did, there’s little chance you knew what they meant in the context of this article -that this was about the art of writing headlines and not actual tips on holiday health (whatever that is).
But I suppose that even meta-articles should fulfil baseline expectations. So these holidays, keep up the exercising. Don’t drink too much. If you do, drink lots of water. Go easy on the cannabis to start; it’s way stronger than you remember. Maybe don’t have seconds on dessert. Unless it’s really good. And if you do, don’t feel too guilty about it. Please make sure to spend time with those you love.
Also, definitely read this issue of Tonic. Rod Macdonald asks “Why Are You Waiting For Praise?”. Megan Horsley gives you “4 Reasons Why you Should Indulge Over the Holidays” and Michelle Pobega responds to a Tonic reader’s plea; “Help, I Need to Relax!”. As always if you’d like to discuss anything you’ve read in this note or this issue of Tonic, please feel free to contact me.