Whether you are discussing a blog or an email, the most important part of a web text is the title. Texts are read online by skimming, and closer inspection is saved for a text which has an interesting title. The most certain way to hook a reader is by writing a title which is somehow connected to work or other interests.
The Most Important Material Belongs in the Headline
An effective title is formed based on the main subject. When you reflect on it, you should look at it from the perspective of its readers: what could be most important for them in the subject? What is most interesting to them? What does it mean for them in practice? You should lift the most useful part of the text into the headline.
You will need second-level titles (subheadings) a few paragraphs apart. You have to figure out the main message of each section separately and lift them clearly from the rest of the text. The form of the title is worth putting some effort into, because it makes the message clearer for both yourself and the reader.
Familiar, Exact, Distinguishable Words
The headline should sum up the content in an interesting and comprehensive way. General headlines (Training, Sign in) desperately need clarification (Moodle training Thursday Jan 17, at 9 o’clock, sign up by Jan 10). At best, the headline gives you an idea of the content to come.
The headlines should also be sufficiently distinct from each other. If back-to-back titles all start with the same word, they don’t stand out enough at a glance: The History of the College, The Presentation of the College, The Agenda of the College. The headline can also be a question – but not too many times in a row!
The headlines as well as the titles in a menu must predict the content. Familiar general language words are best understood, so avoid abbreviations and foreign words, even if you have to use them later in the text. As with any good writing, good headlines are driven by good verbs.
Tempt Them to Continue
The order in which we read online texts does not advance start to finish, and there’s nothing a teacher can do to change this. You can’t force the students to read everything, but you’re allowed to tempt them to continue. The best way is to write headlines – tempting headlines – which work as keys to the topic and awaken the will to hear more. Examine yourself as a reader and take note of the things that make you want to read more – such as positivity, an element of surprise or familiarity.