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57 Power Words for Writing Brilliant Headlines

By Tiffany Monhollon

Whether you’re a new blogger just developing your niche or a seasoned writer developing your next great post, finding just the right headline can be just the inspiration you need. Plus, a great headline can mean the difference between a great post that gets little attention and a great post that brings traffic, comments, and social media traction.

Over the years, I’ve practiced my headline writing skills both on this blog and in my day job, where I’m communications and social media manager leading a team of bloggers to develop content within two well-defined niches on a regular basis. When you write about the same general topics year in and year out, developing new, creative ideas can be a challenge. So, every week, I hold a brainstorming meeting where we develop ideas, play, and find inventive, fun ways to write headlines and e-mail subject lines that move people to action.

Recently, we launched a collaborative blog for business leaders called Refresh Leadership. It offers practical business advice for everyone from developing to mature business leaders. In the months since its launch, we’ve had more than 70,000 hits and have even seen some posts get picked up by Smart Brief. We’ve also posted a few articles that had great content but less-than-perfect headlines.

One thing I’ve learned is that sometimes, all that’s keeping your post from getting traction is simple word choice. So, here’s a list of headline power-words that you can use to strengthen your headlines. Try them on your next post!

For Mystery
1. Sly
2. Top Secret
3. Underground
4. Private
5. Classified
6. Confidential

For Energy
7. Surprising
8. Unexpected
9. Astonishing
10. Stunning
11. Shocking
12. Staggering
13. Wonderful
14. Startling
15. Savvy
16. Amazing

For Controversy
17. Lies
18. Worst
19. Mystery
20. Quit
21. Nightmare
22. Forget
23. Bad
24. Confusing
25. Scary
26. Never

For Lists and Guides
27. Top 10
28. Best
29. Perfect
30. Secret
31. Free
32. Only
33. Complete
34. Absolute
35. Total
36. Exact
37. Ultimate

For Interest
38. Challenging
39. Mistakes
40. New
41. Old
42. Ideal
43. Important
44. Just right
45. Flawless
46. Faultless
47. Textbook

For Fun
48. Epic
49. Unreal
50. Wild
52. Bloopers
53. Oops!
54. Blockbuster
55. Crazy
56. Legit
57. Extreme

What are your go-to headline words? How do you develop titles, subheads, bullet points, and e-mail subject lines that move people to action? Share your comments with us and let us know your creative ideas.

Your Turn! (Plus a Headline Makeover)
Dare to try your hand at writing a headline using this list of power words? If so, share it with us in the comments section. And, if you’d like me to makeover a headline you’ve written, simply post it in the comments section and give me a head’s up. I’ll share my thoughts and a few other options you could go with. What are you waiting for?

By Tiffany Monhollon | July 1, 2010

Topics: Blogging, Communicating, Tips, Writing |

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    Thank you for the 57 words!

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    September 22nd, 2010 at 2:09 am

    Great Collection of Power words.
    Thank you or this. On of these will make it into my next headline.

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    October 11th, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Great list here, it’s so important to have an engaging headline when writing, to draw your reader in, and keep them coming back.

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