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Newspaper headlines

herr-stritt 27. November 2021

Read the following two sentences, and study how they have been turned into headlines. How has this been done? As soon as you’ve found your solution, scroll further down.

Original sentenceHeadline
„When their houses were blown down, some pigs died.“„Pigs die as houses blown down“
„A woman found a hat in a tree on Tuesday.“„Woman finds a hat in a tree“
barn, abandoned, farm-216372.jpg
family, mom, daughter-3817055.jpg

The style of newspaper headlines

Here you could find two typical examples of newspaper headlines. When you study how a sentence is transformed into a newspaper headline, you can notice these characteristics:

  • They start straight with the subject of the action, written with a capital letter. (PigsWoman)
  • The verb comes straight after (diefinds)
  • The rest of the sentence is as short as can be (as houses blown downa hat in a tree).
  • The date often is left out to achieve brevity (on Tuesday).

You should remember that a newspaper headline always needs to be short and snappy. Think of readers that do not have much time to read their newspaper – they should immediately be attracted to your article and want to read on.

Grammatical specialities

In order to keep our headlines nice and short, the passive can help us a lot. Study how the following headlines differ:

Without the passive With the passive
„Pigs die as a wind blows down their houses“ „Pigs die as houses blown down“

The passive here, just like in many other cases, makes our headline much shorter and more memorable.

What is more, even if the event is in the past, we tend to use the present tense in headlines (like in a summary). Take a look at the following example:

Event in the pastHeadline in the present
„A woman found a hat in a tree on Tuesday.“„Woman finds a hat in a tree“