Lesley Hanes | December 1, 2015
Descriptive headings highlight your main points. So why not use them to help you plan what to write and decide where your information should go?
Your audience and purpose come first, so think about what answers your readers might want and what they’re interested in.
Consider where your readers might be reading — will they be online, on a bus, at work, at home, or waiting in a queue?
Also think about what might your readers be experiencing — will they be stressed, relaxed, focused, or distracted?
Finally, what do you most want your readers to know or do after they’ve read your piece?
Jot down some notes. Talk it over with someone. Use the answers and inspiration to work out your main messages.
Don’t worry if you’ve got lots of messages or they’re a bit vague — you can whittle them down and sharpen them later.
Next, use your main messages to write some draft headings. To do this, just write a few key topic words or a sentence that covers your main point. Then repeat the process until you have a few headings to work with.
When I was planning this blog post, I jotted down these headings:
Descriptive headings help you plan and structure your writing Descriptive headings help readers find information Descriptive headings summarise your main messages You can write descriptive headings in a few different styles
Now check to see if you’ve got the information in the right order (for your readers, of course).
Do you need to cut or add any messages? Swap things around and tweak your draft headings until you feel you’ve got the structure reasonably right.
Looking at my headings, I realised that I was writing a long post that I could break into two different topics. So I moved some content out and added descriptive subheadings beneath my main heading.
How to use descriptive headings to plan and structure your writing Think about what your readers need and what you’re trying to achieve Write rough headings based on your main messages Check the order of your headings and tweak, tweak, tweak Write paragraphs that relate to the main messages in your headings
Once you’ve settled on your structure, you’re ready to write paragraphs that focus on the main messages — they’ll be sitting right there in the headings to remind you of your purpose and keep you on track!
The time you spend planning and structuring your writing really pays off — it saves you from lots of rework or missing the aim of your writing.
So use descriptive headings to help your write clearly and purposefully for your readers. How to write descriptive headings gives you some tips and examples.