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Filling out headlines

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by copperpot, Mar 3, 2008.

  1. copperpot

    copperpot Well-Known Member

    Just curious ... I was taught in J-school a decade or so ago that every letter had a count (one for all lower-case letters except flitj, which are all one half, and w, which is 1.5, etc). and that your headline shouldn't be fewer than three from the end of the line. Likewise, when you have multiple lines, they shouldn't be more than 3 apart in count.

    loses to Pitt

    is OK

    Pittsburgh beats

    is not

    Did the rest of you all learn something like this? I'm curious because I see a ton of headlines that don't fill out lines or don't mesh with the lines above or below them.

    Maybe a little bit of a side note, but I don't like centering heads to make this less obvious, either.
  2. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    We got taught the two W rule.

    If you can fit two Ws on the line in addition to your text, the hed's too short. Try again.

    The headline portion of the Dow Jones test totally runs to the opposite of this...every letter counts as 1, no matter the width.
  3. Cadet

    Cadet Guest

    It annoys me when heds are short or have a bad break. There are computer tricks around that these days, so it shouldn't even be that hard.

    Pittsburgh beats
    Syracuse by 10

    Heck, I've known editors who won't let you break a deck on a preposition.
  4. expendable

    expendable Well-Known Member

    I never had formal training with that, but my eyeball test and those guidelines seem to be the same.
  5. wickedwritah

    wickedwritah Guest

    And you shouldn't.

    I'm a bit more lax when it comes to one-column heads, since those are monsters.

    But two-column heads never, ever should break badly. There's no excuse for not getting at least the first deck to break well.
  6. Jeremy Goodwin

    Jeremy Goodwin Active Member

    my paper's heds default to centered.

    As for rules, in copy editing class / desk shifts in college we had a rule. It was something like if you can get two "x"s at the end of the line, it's long enough, but if three "x"s fit, you needed a new headline to fill the space better. X comes to mind, but it might have been a different letter or it might have been if you could fit two of any letter at the end it was long enough, but three of any letter wasn't kosher.

    Panthers beat Podunk for title xx --was OK
    Panthers beat Rams for title xxx --- was not.

    I think some pagination systems such as CCI or Falcon editorial give copy editors a line so you know what fits and is OK (if it doesn't go all the way over).
  7. copperpot

    copperpot Well-Known Member

    I like this ... might pass it on to some people at my shop who seem kind of clueless. This is nice and easy to remember.
  8. captzulu

    captzulu Member

    I was taught in J-school that if you can fit in three lowercase e's at the end of a line, then it's too short. That's kind of the rule of thumb I go by in practice, though I go more on a sense of balance and proportions (whether the hed looks too top-heavy or not). What really bugs me is when I see heds that have ugly spacing and could've been easily fixed if they simply reduced the point size by 1 or 2 points. That, to me, is one of the biggest disadvantages to separating the design from the hed-writing on a page. Yes, it can be tough to write a good 1-column hed that fills out the space, but being locked into a layout that was done w/o regard for what a possible good hed might be is even tougher.
  9. Pete Incaviglia

    Pete Incaviglia Active Member

    I was always taught as long as your headline "touches" the final column of the story it's above, you're good to go.

    Example One:
    Column one Column two
    Column one Column two
    Column one Column two
    Column one Column two

    Example Two:
    Column one Column two Column Three
    Column one Column two Column Three
    Column one Column two Column Three
    Column one Column two Column Three
  10. RossLT

    RossLT Guest

    Our ed-in-chief recently decreed that we have no last names in headlines in our sports section. he called me into his office to ask me why I used Tiger in a headline and I told him "it's not a last name" he was not amused. We in the sports dept. hate this rule.
  11. Jeremy Goodwin

    Jeremy Goodwin Active Member

    sample heds:
    Player carries team to victory
    Cowboys' star signs new contract
    Interesting story about guy and cool things he does
  12. ColbertNation

    ColbertNation Member

    Isn't that what kerning is for?

    S y r a c u s e f a l l s t o P i t t
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