Write headings for editorial content

Business Sectors (Suites): Journalism
Developed by: ScreenSkills
Approved on: 31 Mar 2019


This Standard is about producing the headlines, coverlines and other headings that are used to attract the attention of readers to editorial content in newspapers, magazines and websites; and to help readers find their way around material and identify the parts that they would like to read. 

This Standard involves identifying when different headings should be used and what they should contain, how they will appear depending on the platform or device used to view them, ensuring that they are in a format and style that suits the organisation or brand for which they are being produced and meet any legal or ethical requirements. 

This Standard is for all those who write headings for editorial content.

Performance criteria

You must be able to:

  1. identify which headlines, coverlines, social headlines, straplines, standfirsts, sub-decks and subheads are most suitable for the audiences, brand, style and content of your material

  2. write headings that reflect the treatment of the accompanying material, conveying the main points with clarity and accuracy

  3. write headings that maximise engagement with audiences 

  4. check headings are of suitable length, shape and size for the medium in which they appear

  5. follow house or brand style and the conventions on grammar, spelling and punctuation required by your organisation

  6. assess the effect of your headings on adjacent stories and images at appropriate times

  7. comply with relevant laws, regulations, and codes of practice when writing headings

Knowledge and Understanding

You need to know and understand:

1. the organisation’s requirements for content, treatment, and format 2. the audience and their characteristics and expectations 3. the formats, uses, differences, benefits and disadvantages of the different types of headings including headlines , coverlines, social headlines, straplines, standfirsts, sub-decks, subheads  4. the house or brand style in which material should be produced, including grammar, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, format, style and story construction  5. how the eventual page or reading layout will  appear according to the channel, platform or viewing device to be used  6. the written material that the headings will accompany 7. the use of key words and search engine optimisation  8. the principles of publication,  brand design and typography   9. the legal requirements and industry codes which relate to writing headings and publishing material 


Scope Performance

Scope Knowledge





Links To Other NOS

External Links

Version Number


Indicative Review Date

30 Mar 2022





Originating Organisation

Screen Skills (formerly Creative Skillset)

Original URN


Relevant Occupations

Media and Communication, Media Associate Professionals

SOC Code



headings, coverlines, journalism