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Are Shorter Headlines Always Better?

Are shorter headlines better?

It’s generally assumed that shorter headlines are better. Not just a little bit better but significantly better. The reality is that it’s necessarily not true. Shorter headlines are indeed better, but just marginally better. The difference between a 3 word headline and a 13+ word headline is not even 10%!!

A study of 2500 ads done in 1939-1940 by Harold J. Rudolph through the Saturday Evening Post found that the content of the headline is the major element that determines the effectiveness of a headline, not it’s length as is generally assumed. The table below shows the difference in the number of people who read the headline based on the number of words in the headline:


Number of Words in Headline Percentage of People who Read the Headline
Up to 3 87.3%
4-6 86.3%
7-9 84%
10-12 82.5%
13+ 77.9%

Therefore what we should learn from this is that if you have to add extra words, do so as long as it makes your ad more effective. A shorter headline with poorly chosen words is not as good as a longer headline with well chosen words. After all the difference in effectiveness isn’t even a full 10%. It’s definitely not as much as we’re generally lead to believe.

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  •     Casey Strouse
    · July 24th, 2011  · 1:39 am  · Permalink

    I use as many words for my headlines as I feel is necessary to hook the reader. Some of my headlines are 4-5 words while others are 10+. Just write what comes naturally and then prune out any words that are not intrinsic to your message.

  •     Pamila Seu
    · June 22nd, 2012  · 10:02 pm  · Permalink

    fantastic points altogether, you just received a brand new reader. What might you suggest about your put up that you just made a few days ago? Any sure?

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