A headline is a short, clear summary of the information presented in a newspaper article. To write headlines correctly, certain rules must be followed.
a) use the present simple tense to describe events which have occurred very recently. Earthquake hits L.A.,for example, means the earthquake has just happened, probably in the last twenty-for hours;
b) omit the verb “be” when using the passive voice to describe a past event. Write: President defeated or Lost boy foundnot: President was defeated or Lost boy was found;
c) write “to be + past participle” when using the passive voice to describe a future event, as in: Hospital to be opened by Queen (= A hospital is going to be opened by the Queen.) when using the active voice to describe a future event, write the fill infinitive (to be) only, as in Queen to open hospital (= The Queen is going to open a hospital);
d) omit articles (a, an, the) as in Child trapped in rubble (= A child was trapped in rubble);
e) put nouns one after the other as in London factory explosion injures 27 (which means that an explosion n a factory located in London resulted in twenty-seven people being injured;
f) avoid using prepositions (words like under, over, across, through).
Write: Unidentified virus spreads rather than An unidentified virus has spread across the country); and
g) use abbreviations like US, UN, NATO. Write: UFO sighted not: An unidentified flying object was seen.
& 1. Read and study the features of headline languages for further exercises and discussions.
Here are some typical examples of headlines from tabloid newspapers with comments on their use of language.[popular papers with smaller pages than more serious papers]
EXPERT REVEALS NEW MOBILE DANGERS
• Articles, prepositions and auxiliary verbs are often omitted from headlines.
• This use of the present simple instead of the past tense makes the story sound more immediate.
• The use of language is often ambiguous. It is not entirely clear, for example, what mobile refers to here. It is actually about the dangers of mobile phone use but it could have referred to dangers that can move in some way. Readers have to look at the story in order to find out.
• Words with dramatic associations such as danger are often used.
TV STAR TRAGIC TARGET FOR MYSTERY GUNMAN
This story is about how a well-known television actor was shot by an unknown killer.
• Tabloid newspapers like to use references to royalty or popular figures like film or pop stars or sports personalities in order to attract readers' attention.
• Alliteration such as TV Star Tragic Target is often used to attract the eye in headlines and to make them sound more memorable.
• Newspapers sometimes use 'shorthand' words such as 'gunman' in order to express an idea or image as briefly and as vividly as possible.
Violent and militaristic words are often used in newspaper headlines, especially in tabloid newspapers, in order to make stories seem more dramatic.
EU acts to crush terror of the thugs Palace besieged by journalists
Crackdownon soccer louts Typhoon rips through town
What will the stories under these newspaper headlines probably be about?