Up until about ten or so years ago all headlines and titles for all serious and professional publications were always written using what is referred to as the ‘headline style’—except by those people who had no idea how headlines and titles were supposed to be written. For all my postings up until now I have adhered to using the headline style for my titles and headings.
For anyone who is not too sure what the rules are (were) for headlines and titles following is the section from the Times Style Manual summarising the headline style rules.
By and large these headlining rules have been used since the first book was printed. Well they were up until about eight or ten years ago anyway.
The new way, which is gradually being used more and more, does away with the capitalisation and basically headings are written almost as a normal short sentence but without a full stop. Obviously I do not get, read, or see every magazine, paper, or book printed but from those that I have observed over the last few years I figure about half have adopted the ‘new way’ of setting headlines and titles, and the other half (so far) are sticking with the formal headline style used over the last 300 years or so.
At this stage National Geographic are also sticking with the headline style standard, as can be seen from the example at left.
Even the latest and most ‘Internet’ modern of newpapers (they don’t even have a paper version of their ‘paper’), The Huffington Post, has elected to use the traditional headline style for headings (below).
Now for some of the publications and magazines abandoning the headline style standard; starting with one of my favourite news sites, the UK Telegraph. Note in the example at right that they do not capitalise the headings.
Note also the following example from News.com.au where the capitalisation of headings has been done away with.
I grew up through a period when all headings adhered to the headline style so it is a bit hard for me to become accustomed to headings that, to me, seem to be a mess—compared to what I am expecting to see from many years of reading.
[All images link to the respective source sites. Don’t forget to use Ctrl+Click to open the linked site in new Tab or Shift+Click if you use the Opera browser]
At this stage I have not made a final decision on whether to abandon the headline style standard or not. After keying this up, which has made me think about it even more, I am thinking I might take my cue from the New York Times. Maybe when, and if, the New York Times abandons using the headline style then I will too.