A good headline grabs the attention of readers. Here are a few points to consider when designing your headlines.
Because readability of the headline is most important, don't use uppercase for every letter. Readers identify words partly by their shapes, so when all the letters are in uppercase, the headline becomes rectangular and hard to read. By contrast, lowercase letters have varying shapes, which helps readers identify words more quickly. If you want to create emphasis, use typography.
Keep headlines to a maximum of three lines. A quick glance should tell the reader what the article is about. Also, left justified headlines are easier to read than centered headlines.
Next, select a typeface for the headline, and then set it in a larger point size than the body text. Typography is discussed in Elements of Design, but take a quick visit for a few definitions.
When it comes to headlines, sans serif typeface, such as Helvetica, is a traditional choice, while serif typeface, such as Times Roman, is common for body text. But there are no hard and fast rules, only guidelines.
In the 1997 Freestone, we chose a serif font, Onyx BT, for the headlines. It has a formal, elegant look, which seemed appropriate for an English department newsletter. A sans serif typeface would have contrasted better with the serif typeface used for the body text, but like most design decisions, it comes down to choosing what you think looks best for your publication.