Fitting ideas to the space: Writing headlines

Jane Reed
Trenton Central High School
Trenton, New Jersey

Students will be able to place headlines that convey the meaning of an article in a concise and appropriate way within the confines of copy space.


  • Using The New York Times and other national, state and local publications, students will evaluate headlines for:
    • verbs
    • connotative diction
    • story encapsulation without giving away the text
    • ability to grab the reader’s attention
  • Teacher will place students in groups and distribute newspaper stories from the above professional papers. Students will then work to apply headlines to these articles for each of these newspapers.
  • Students will read text on placing headlines with reference to copy space and placement in the newspaper (front page vs. p.13), and review the use of fonts to control space. Teacher will return the headlines developed in the previous activity and have the groups redesign the headlines to teacher-designed space requirements and placements. (This can be done on dummy sheets or on computer, using Pagemaker or a similar software.)
  • The class will develop a rubric for “good headlines” based on the work in the three activities, their text and information given by the teacher during discussions. This rubric will be made into a poster for display throughout the semester, as well as posted on the class Web page.


  • The New York Times Times
  • National, state and local Papers
  • Dummy Sheets prepared to scale
  • Adobe Pagemaker or other software

Other Considerations:

None. Students of all ability levels can access this lesson.


Teacher will supply a new set of sample articles with the space requirements and type of newspaper in which it will appear to each student. The student will apply an appropriate headline, to be evaluated by the teacher using the class-developed rubric.