The Daily Mail Headline Writing Formula

Are you lazy? I am.

Instead of wracking my brains trying to come up with clever headlines, I look at what others have written, and see if I can go one better.

It’s a private little game I play with myself. I suspect a lot of other writers do the same thing.

You see a really clever headlines, or maybe an interesting phrase, and think, ‘Oh, how could I use that?’


Let’s go back to headlines.

I used to print out Brian Clark’s articles on Copyblogger many, many years ago. One thing he emphasized was the importance of great headlines. Not ‘clever clever’ puns, but headlines that worked.

When does a headline work?

When the reader stops,

thinks about it,

starts to feels a little curious…

and clicks through.

The headline is the salesman for your blog post.

Without it, no one visits.

Just the sound of crickets.

Ok, so back to lazy Ivan.

I go to the Daily Mail. Cosmo works as well. Click on the Womens or Showbiz section.

Look at posts with lots of comments.

Now look at the headline.

Ask yourself:

What emotion does the headline trigger?




The Daily Mail excels at goading its readers. Of course, the readers know this (I suspect) but keeps coming back for more anyway.

They enjoy feeling outraged, blowing off steam, looking down on others, and feeling superior. They’re also a bit frightened. But that’s another post.

If you spend some time on this site, or other sites that get a lot of traffic, you’ll get a feel for the headlines that work.

A kind of writer’s sixth sense.

Once you get a feel for the formula that the writers use, see if you can apply it to your headline writing. Not all the time but now and then.

Think of it as an experiment.

See what works. Ignore the rest.