When students are helping with your middle school yearbook, you’ll likely find they’re ready to put creative spins on everything—headlines included.
And that’s great. But before you jump into the creative “deep end” together, work on these headline writing tips with them so they have the basics mastered, too.
Headline Writing Basics:
An easy way to develop some winning headlines is by simply being direct and informative. This is a great place to start, especially for new writers. And as they begin, remind them that some headlines will come easily, while others may need some work. Here are some tips to help them piece it together.
- Take a careful look at the spread. How would they sum it up in one sentence? Is it about a class, an event, or an activity? Who is involved?
- Capture first five words that come to mind. These can range from factual (seventh grade, dodgeball, school dance) to descriptive (awesome, exhausting, creative), and can include exciting action words (triumphed, vaulted, experimented).
- Decide on the main subject of the headline. Then brainstorm ways to present the subject in interesting ways. This is where they can use the other words brainstormed while looking at the spread in the previous step. For example, you may have a spread where soccer is the main subject. Some other words that spring to mind are “fun” and “kick.” By combining these words, they might come up with “Soccer Brings the Fun,” or “Kickin’ it Up with Soccer.”
- Come up with a few options. There will usually be a gut reaction to the perfect headline for a spread, and it’s not always the first one that’s brainstormed. Have them write out at least four different options before deciding on anything.
- Get a second opinion. Have your students bounce their headline ideas off of another person. Have them show just the headline, and ask the person if they can guess what the spread is about. If they are able to guess correctly, the headline is on the right track.
Adding More Style to Your Headlines:
If you are looking for more out of your headlines, and your students have mastered the basics, you can work to have each headline follow a similar style throughout your yearbook. This makes your entire book feel connected from page to page. Below are some of our favorite headline styles for middle school yearbooks. If you’d like, have your students work on adding one of these styles into your yearbook:
- Journalistic: This approach tells the reader exactly what they are going to be reading or looking at. The key to this style is to be direct and specific. An example would be, “Seventh Graders Had a Blast at Wrigley Field.”
- Bring on the Slang: We like the idea of using popular slang, because it reflects the current year and consistently provides a huge dose of nostalgia when students look back on their yearbooks. Some examples would be “School Lunch on Fleek,” “Cray Cray for Play Play,” or “Orchestra #SquadGoals.”
- Inside Jokes: Students at this age love nothing more than belonging to a tight group with their own inside jokes. If you reach out to the band, baseball team, or French club you may get results like “Ba-BUM-Bum Not Ba-Ba-Bummmm,” “Tales From the Peanut Gallery,” or “Bonjour, Popcorn!”
- Quotes: With middle schoolers, you can take it straight from the horse’s mouth with enjoyable results. Ask other students what they think about a certain subject and you will be delighted with the results. They may say, “Student Council Runs This Town” or “Science is Where the Magic Happens.”
You want your headlines to target your core audience and draw them into the spread. The perfect headline might take a little bit of work, but selecting a style or tone for your students to follow and having them do a little brainstorming will pay off huge in the long run. Teach them the basics, and then let them explore adding their own creative flair, and you’ll find yourself with some absolutely wonderful yearbook headlines.