How to Write Attention-Grabbing Headlines Using These 5 Simple Formulas

Headlines are so important when writing copy.

It’s the first thing you users read.

And they judge your copy just by what it says in the headline.

As a content writer, it’s important to use formulas that work.

Formulas that’ll help you write good headlines that’ll ultimately make your readers go crazy and immediately grab their attention.

If you write better headlines for your articles and posts, you’ll automatically get more readers, which will lead to more shares, which will lead to better results.

There are quite a lot of formulas out there, but here are the top five.

*Please note, You don’t have to follow the formulas word by word. You can restructure them as long as you stick with the main gist of the formula.

The “How to [do something] in [#] simple steps”

This is a classic example of a simple formula that works.

You’ve probably seen this on all your digital platforms, e.g. YouTube videos or Instagram.

An example could be:

  • How to Make a YouTube Video in 5 Simple Steps
  • How to Be Happy in 6 Simple Steps
  • How to Learn Programming: 5 Steps to Learn to Code
  • Learn Electronics With These 10 Simple Steps

The “[Do something] like [this expert] without [this negative]”

This might be a bit tricky to understand without an actual example.

  • How to Open a Can Without a Can Opener
  • How to Stay Cool Without Air-Conditioning
  • How to Dress Like Kayne West at Walmart

Basically, you want to always put two opposite things against it each other. Clearly, you shouldn’t be able to open a can without a can opener, right? Also, you shouldn’t be able to stay cool without air-conditioning.

Make sure you use two things that are associated with each other, e.g. staying cool and air-conditioning.

The whole point is that you contradict what people like to think and grab attention because of it.

Another way of using this is by saying:

  • The Eight Best Ways to Learn French Without Taking Classes (According to a Teacher)

This way you’re adding more credibility because the teacher is literally the expert here. And people would be interested in knowing how they can learn French without attending classes.

The “[#] things I learned whilst [doing something]”

These headlines are very common and work really well with articles or blogs.

You instantly tell the reader what value you bring them if they decide to read the article. You can use this to teach your readers and share your mistakes.

Your readers might think that if they can learn from someone else’s mistakes, then they’re less likely to make that mistake themselves. Subconsciously, they’ll want to know what these things are.

It’s human greed that we want to learn everything. And it’s annoying to us if someone knows something that we don’t – especially if we’re interested in the topic.

Here are some examples:

  • 20 Things I’ve learned While Walking Daily
  • 8 Things I Learned While Working From Home
  • 10 Lessons I Learned While Teaching Myself to Code

A lot of us have worked from home during the lockdown. We’ve probably learned a lot of things, but what if someone else learned something I didn’t? What if that someone does something in a smarter way than me?

Bonus: Using numbers instead of letters will automatically grab more attention.

The “[#] secret ways to [do something]”

This formula is so, so powerful as it uses the word “secret”.

The word “secret” is a so-called “power word” that will help trigger emotions. Compared to spam words, these words will help you build effective copy and encourage your users.

I’ll have another post coming up about different words, but just know that you can categorize these words into categories like; greed, curiosity, and anger. “Secret” is a word that inspires curiosity.

Anywho, knowledge is power, and using this formula, you’re telling your readers that you know something they don’t.


  • 3 Secret Ways to Use Hashtags Youโ€™ve Never Tried Before
  • 7 Secret of Making Money Online Revealed
  • 50 Secrets Chefs Won’t Tell You

You’re indicating that these are secrets that other people aren’t aware of. Everybody wants to know secrets and that’s why it’s such a powerful formula.

The “[#] [crazy adjective] things you should [do/know] [before/after] you [do something]”

I know this might look insane – and it’s a beast.

Let’s look at two examples to clear things up:

  • 40 Breathtaking Places to Visit Before You Die
  • The 9 Things You Should Know Before Stating Your It Career

Obviously, the first one is very dramatic but very effective. The second one isn’t as dramatic and it doesn’t have some crazy adjective but it still follows the general structure of the formula.

These work really well if you want to teach your readers something. In this case, you’re the expert and you tell people what they should do before something.

If your reader is about to start a career in IT, well then they’re going to want to click this headline. The human greed and curiosity to constantly learn will take over – and you will click that link.

Ready to write attention-grapping headlines

That’s it for this one.

As mentioned earlier, headlines are super important and I hope that you can use these five formulas to capture your readers in a new way.

If you liked this one, please make sure to hit the follow button and drop a comment below if you have any questions.

Take care,
Rasmus Bak

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