Read THIS! Bullet Points and Headlines (Thoughts on #Writing in #highered)

I got your attention, didn’t I? Of course I did. My title is compelling.

You, too, can writing attention-grabbing headlines. Read on.

The next three excerpts come from If you’re not a subscriber to their blog, sign up here. I can almost guarantee that if you follow the advice below, your writing will sharpen.

How to Write Magnetic Headlines (Brian Clark)

Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a compelling promise that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist. So, from a copywriting and content marketing standpoint, writing great headlines is a critical skill.

Remember, every element of compelling copy has just one purpose — to get the next sentence read. And then the sentence after that, and so on, all the way down to your call to action. So it’s fairly obvious that if people stop at the headline, you’re already dead in the water.

The better your headline, the better your odds of beating the averages and getting what you’ve written read by a larger percentage of people. This 11-part series will provide you with concrete guidance that’ll have you writing better headlines in no time.


The above excerpt is from an 11 part series from Copyblogger on grabbing attention with your headline. If you are interested in writing at all professionally, read through them all.

Next, is another article from Copyblogger about bullet points. This applies more directly to the typical marketing students because you will create at least a dozen PowerPoint presentations while in college, so learn to do it well.

Bullet Point Basics (Brian Clark)

Before we get to the graduate level, we’ve got to nail the basics. So here are the 5 cardinal rules for general bullet points that convey your points clearly:

  1. Express a clear benefit and promise to the reader. That’s right… they’re mini-headlines. They encourage the scanning reader to go back into the real meat of your content, or go forward with your call to action.
  2. Keep your bullet points symmetrical if possible; meaning, one line each, two lines each, etc. It’s easier on the eyes and therefore easier on the reader.
  3. Avoid bullet clutter at all costs. Do not get into a detailed outline jumble of subtitles, bullets and sub-bullets. Bullets are designed for clarity, not confusion.
  4. Practice parallelism. Keep your bullet groups thematically related, begin each bullet with the same part of speech, and maintain the same grammatical form.
  5. Remember that bullets (like headlines) are not necessarily sentences. If you want to write complete sentences, stick with a paragraph or a numbered list.

Lastly, a bit of information about why bullet points are important.

The basics of writing bullet points that work (Robert Bruce)

The essence of a great bullet is brevity + promise.

Brevity has been a hallmark of good writing since writing began, but every one of us living in the Twitter Age possesses an acute awareness of just how important brevity is right now.

Long, complex bullet points would defeat the purpose of writing bullets at all — to keep your reader moving through your copy.

Promise is the element that hooks your reader like a fish. You’re making a plain and legitimate claim that your product/idea/service will give them what they’ve been looking for.

Goes without saying (but of course I’m going to say it anyway), you absolutely must deliver on the promise you make. There are probably faster ways of ruining your credibility and career, but not giving your reader what you promised is definitely in the top three.


Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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