headline design tips

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But the truth is that we make judgments based on appearances ALL the time. And that includes the time that we spend reading headlines of blog posts, website pages, ads, and even social media posts.

When you write a headline, you may focus almost exclusively on what the headline says. What do you probably spend less time thinking about? How the headline looks.

But remember that headlines have an extremely important job to do: they have to capture your audience’s attention and convince them to keep reading your website, blog post, or ad. For the average headline, 80% of people who read the headline won’t read any further. So if you want your audience to make it past your headline, you don’t want to rely on optimizing just the content of your headline. You also want to make its appearance as eye-catching and engaging as possible.

How do you do this? Keep reading below for 7 headline design tips that help you grab your audience’s attention:



Need some help writing headlines that convert?
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(They work for other types of headlines too!)



1. Use title case

When you write headlines, you can write them in different cases. Here are the most common options:


Examples of headline cases

As you can see, the only difference between these cases is the words that get capitalized. In title case, you capitalize all major words. In sentence case, you write the words the same way you would in a sentence. That is, you capitalize the first word and any proper nouns. And finally, in all caps, you capitalize every letter.

So which case should you use if you want to achieve the optimal headline design? Well, Moz conducted a study to see which type of case people like best. Specifically, they showed readers several headlines in title case, sentence case, and all caps. They found that most readers—64% to be exact—preferred title case.

Text that’s written in all caps can make it feel like you’re being yelled at. And it’s also harder to read. But surprisingly, the headlines written in all caps were the second-most-preferred type of headlines. Only 7% of readers preferred sentence case, and 8% said they had no preference.

In sum, if you want to optimize your headline design to grab your audience’s attention, format your headlines in title case.

Related: 9 landing page design mistakes that reduce your conversions + free template and example

2. Vary your headline case

In the Moz study I just described, readers saw headlines that were written in 1 of the 3 cases. They didn’t have readers look at headlines that mixed cases within the same headline. However, design experts say that mixing two cases within a headline can be a great way to get people’s attention.

You can mix cases by using one case for one line of the headline and another case for the other line of a headline:



7 tips for grabbing your audience’s attention every time


Or you can use one case for most of the words in a headline and use a different case for select words or key terms (you tend to see this a lot on Pinterest pins):


How to


your audience loves

Related: 9 effective headlines that attract customers & subscribers

3. Choose the right font

When you’re optimizing your headline design, it’s also important to think about the font of your headline. Every font has a personality—whether it’s conservative and formal (think Times New Roman) or casual and fun (think Comic Sans).

For body copy, you want a font that’s legible and won’t upstage your text. But for headlines, you can afford to get a bit more creative. In fact, when Smashing Magazines analyzed headlines on websites, they found that 66% used non-standard fonts. In other words, people weren’t sticking to the usual fonts, like Georgia and Arial.

If you choose to use a non-standard font for your headline, just be sure that it fits your brand personality and your audience. And consider whether it’ll render properly for readers who are using different browsers or, if you’re sending a document, different word processors or desktop apps. After all, there’s no point in using a fun, stylish font to jazz up your headline design if it doesn’t render properly for most people.

Related: The truth about using extreme headlines in copy & content



Screen shot of a blog post headline


4. Size it up

To make your headline stand out so that it grab’s your audience’s attention, you want the headline font to be much larger than the body copy font. How much larger? Experts recommend going for about 2.5x the size of your body copy. This will ensure that your audience reads your headline first.

Related: The 4 U’s of writing headlines that convert



Screen shot of a blog post headline



Need some help writing headlines that convert?
Download my 72 free blog post headline templates.
(They work for other types of headlines too!)

Send me the free templates



5. Use colour carefully

If you want to optimize your headline design to grab your audience’s attention, you might think that colour is one of your best tools. After all, what’s better than making your headline a bright colour that catches your audience’s eye?

It’s true that colour attracts the eye and can make a sales page, blog post, or ad more engaging. But it may also make a headline more difficult to read. That’s what Colin Wheildon, an editor in Australia, found when he tested headlines with his readers.

His results showed that bright, high-intensity colours made headlines eye-catching. But only 17% of people found them easy to read. In comparison, 67% of people found black headlines easy to read. And 52% found headlines in dark colours easy to read.

So if you want your audience to be able to easily read and understand your headline, make the font black or another dark colour.

Related: How to write clear, concise web copy that converts + free copy planning worksheet



Screen shot of a blog post headline


6. Create contrast

Of course, the best colour to choose for your headline also depends on the background colour of your sales page, blog, or ad. When thinking about headline design, experts recommend choosing a headline colour that contrasts with the background colour. This means that a dark-coloured headline will be more effective if your background is light and a light-coloured headline will be more effective if your background is dark.

Related: 7 call-to-action design tips that boost sign ups and sales + 80 CTA templates


Screen shot of an article headline


7.Make space for white space

One of the easiest ways to make your headline stand out is to place plenty of white space around it. This makes it easier for your audience to focus on your headline without being distracted by other text, buttons, and images around it. Headlines that have space to breathe also seem more important to read.

Related: How to write scannable blog posts people actually read + free checklist



Example of headline white space


Don’t forget about headline design

When you’re writing a landing page, blog post, or ad, it can be easy to treat your headline like an afterthought. And when you do focus on your headline, it’s easy to spend most of your time thinking about what it should say instead of how it should look.

But data shows that headline design plays an important role in making sure that you capture your audience’s attention and convince them to keep reading. That’s why it’s essential to think about the case, font type, font colour, and white space you use when writing headlines. They can make all the difference between creating a headline that stands out and hooks your audience vs. one that fades into the background and never gets noticed.



Need some help writing headlines that convert?
Download my 72 free blog post headline templates.
(They work for other types of headlines too!)

Send me the free templates




headline design tips

7 headline design tips that grab your audience’s attention + 72 free headline templates

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