Archive for Headlines

Garden path freeway crossing

Headline: Man who ran across Highway 85 to receive mental health resources, Mountain View police say The first two or three times I read that, I assumed there was a verb missing, and I wondered why someone would run across the freeway in order to get mental health services. Then I figured out what it […]

To an eel

The headline of this New York Times article did its job by getting me to click through to the article: When an Eel Climbs a Ramp to Eat Squid From a Clamp, That’s a Moray But that’s not all. The article includes three brief videos. Here are their captions: When an eel wants a squid […]

Makes list

Google News keeps showing me this headline: St. Francis student makes list of U.S. Presidential Scholars And every time I see it, I think, Huh, I feel like creating a list of scholars isn’t that noteworthy an achievement? Why are they writing a news article about it? And then I re-realize that they mean “gets […]

One phrase to rule them all

A recent KQED headline reads “Making Sense of Purple Air vs. AirNow, and a New Map to Rule Them All,” which makes me wonder whether the headline-writers at KQED know where that phrase comes from. I feel like comparing something to Sauron’s One Ring might be seen as an indication that the thing is bad, […]


Facebook notifications often show an abbreviated version of some of the text that they’re about. In particular, notifications about shared links show an abbreviated version of the linked-to piece’s headline/title, with an ellipsis at the end. Which sometimes makes me want to complete the truncated title. Which can have entertaining results. I’ve been meaning for […]

Carrying cocaine

NBC News headline: Dramatic video shows Coast Guard leaping onto submarine carrying 17,000 pounds of cocaine I honestly wondered for a moment why and how the Coast Guard was carrying so much cocaine while leaping onto a submarine.

More about colon-as-attribution-signifier

As I’ve noted before (though possibly not here in Words & Stuff), I feel like the common practice of using a colon in a newspaper headline to indicate attribution can lead to amusing confusion. The latest example I’ve come across isn’t quite the same thing; instead of attribution per se, it’s using a colon to […]

Texas city

Eyebrow-raising headline: BP plans to sell Texas city, California plants I knew BP was powerful, but do they really own an entire city in Texas? The first line of the...


There's a stylistic convention in newspaper headlines that I never got the hang of: paraphrasing something someone said, then a colon, then an indication of whoever it was that said...