25 cringe- or shrug-worth headlines

Ian Lurie

I tell you to write clear headlines, and you don’t listen. I tell you to try the blank sheet of paper test, and you ignore me. I suggest that you write fully descriptive headlines, and you snort. Well, now you can see what happens. 25 truly screwed up, hideous headlines written by folks who didn’t consider the consequences:

  1. Royals to get a taste of Angels’ Colon. Ewwwwwwwwwww.
  2. Colon pounded. They just couldn’t get enough of this one.
  3. Supreme Court Tries Sodomy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but do we all need to know?
  4. Deer kill 17,000. Wow. I know they’re justified being a little ticked, but man.
  5. Stud tires out. I’m a 42 year old nerd. I feel no sympathy.
  6. Air Head Fired. About damned time.
  7. Eye drops off of shelf.
  8. War dims hope for peace. I’m sorry, what? Which war? Peace where? Your lame headline dims hope for peace.
  9. UN to remove Taliban from blacklist: Karzai. Er what? We made peace with the Taliban?
  10. Come on in, the water is fine. Nothing funny, but this headline is so utterly uninformative I found it intrinsically giggle-inducing.
  11. Tits bouncing back in warmer weather. The bird. Not the… Never mind. They’re actually called ‘Blue Tits’. Which might not help… Now I’m just embarrassed.
  12. Get it free!! This was an e-mail subject line. Nothing else to tell me what’s going on. Nice.
  13. A new business model. And…?
  14. Hard wait. Buh…?
  15. Bishops agree sex abuse rules. I wish this was funny.
  16. Microsoft User Research is looking for Seattle area parents with kids. Can you narrow that down just a little?
  17. Why it failed. Maybe ‘it’ needed more focus?
  18. April 6, 2011. The next time I see someone using a date as a headline I’ll… I’ll… probably just cry.
  19. SEO services SEO. This one just pisses me off. It got onto Hacker News? Really?
  20. Photo. This is more a case of not writing a headline at all, I suspect. I find 10-20 of these every week.
  21. No good to great. Dammit. That was my other business plan.
  22. Fired up! That’s great! About what?
  23. What does it all mean? I dunno.
  24. Cameron attacks ‘annoying’ Balls. Is it just me, or do most vague headlines end up being double entendres. Use the guy’s first name next time, K?
  25. Man Fatally Slain. OK, this one is actually fully descriptive. It’s too fully descriptive.

You have been warned.

If you’ve got any other dreadful headlines, feel free to post ’em in the comments.

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Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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