1. Headlines should clearly convey the essence of what a story is about and, whenever possible, do so in an inviting way.

2. Fresh news usually calls for the present tense: Cuba SSTers survive mugging.

3. In headlines with more than one line of text, each line should be grammatically independent and comfortable standing alone (Class of ’77 gathers / at Memorial High) rather than awkwardly separated (Memorial class of / ’77 to gather Aug. 31).

4. If need be, a comma can serve in place of the word and in a series like Students balance classes, work. But a semicolon, not a comma, should be used to link independent actions (Dehyle’s position eliminated; new leaders considered). A colon implies the word says in constructions like Survey: academics top student priorities.

5. The verb to be (in its various forms) can be dropped in the first phrase of a headline: College building music hall, president says. But omitting the verb late in a headline can make for strained reading: President says college building music hall.

6. Use single quotation marks rather than doubles.

7. Avoid obvious wordplay that insults a reader's intelligence (e.g., This contest is just corny as a headline for a story about a sweet-corn eating contest at the Elkhart County 4-H Fair, The Goshen News, July 21, 2002). Be especially vigilant against puns that fail to deliver on all of the promised levels (e.g., 4-H'er ticks off little sister, which topped a story about an 11-year-old boy who plucked a tick from his 2-year-old sister's head; there was no indication that she was anything but pleased. The Elkhart Truth, July 24, 2002).