Subheadings Writing Guide: Overview, Benefits & Tips

An essential part of writing is the order in which key thoughts are labeled. Key points are often labeled with subheadings, which indicate how they differ from the surrounding text. Properly written subheadings can make content more organized, improve readability and increase reader retention. What are subheadings?

Subheadings are phrases that provide relevant information about a central topic. They typically contain key points that give the readers a preview of what to expect in the upcoming text.

If you’re asking the question: what are subheadings? This guide is for you. We’ll discuss what they are, their importance, and tips for crafting winning subheadings.

What are Subheadings?

What are subheadings? Subheadings are mini-headlines that are strategically placed within a text. They’re typically used in written texts to break content into manageable and understandable sections for readers. They’re an easy way to make content more focused and organized, draw connections between ideas, and enable readers to understand what is to follow.

Headings are major titles, while subheadings are minor and more specific titles in each section. They’re typically written in H2 or H3 text to reflect their nature and stand out.

Subheadings allow readers to view content more clearly and less overwhelmingly. With a subheading, a reader learns what to expect before moving on to the content.

Where to Use Subheadings

Subheadings are commonly used in blog posts, articles, formal reports, and email newsletters. For example, an article about how to get a perfect complexion might include subheadings on beauty tips. Subheadings are typically written with keywords to create curiosity and persuade readers to read the whole piece.

There are usually three categories of subheadings.

  • H2. The H2s are the first level of the subheading and the main outline points or headers for each main section of your piece. 
  • H3: The H3s are the subsections of the main H2 points.
  • H4: These are more detailed subheadings that break the content into more specific sections. 

Importance of Using Subheadings

Subheadings aim to grab the reader’s attention. They’re meant to stand out and guide the reader through the document at hand. They also break up the text and make it easier to digest information. It’s easy to follow and figure out information from an article when it’s broken up into subheadings.

Subheadings are essential for several purposes. They:

1. Improve content organization

When you use specific subheadings, you give readers an understanding of how the content will flow. With subheadings, readers can prioritize content quickly and move on to the most critical points.

The presence of adequately written subheadings helps readers avoid looking too hard and focus on what matters most.

2. Increase reader retention

Subheadings help organize your thoughts and make it easier for your reader to follow the storyline. This can benefit the reader who wants to skim the piece without reading every word.

With proper subheadings that include relevant keywords, you can create curiosity and persuade the reader to engage with the content till the end.

3. Strengthen readability

Compelling subheadings strengthen readability and improve the reading experience. While reading online content in a browser, one may need to scan the long blocks of text.

It can get overwhelming if there are no subheadings to break this text. By using subheadings, your reader can better process the pieces of text that fall beneath them.

How to Write Subheadings that Hook Readers

Here are some tips for writing subheadings that interest readers.

1. Write relevant subheadings.

When writing subheadings, it’s essential to keep in mind the message you’re trying to convey. Your subheadings should be relevant to the content that follows them. For instance, a subheading about why you love pancakes may not be suitable if you’re writing a blog post on how to make pancakes.

You don’t want to confuse and further complicate issues for your readers, so stick to what is relevant. Think of the information you must include and how to separate them into sections.

3. Make them engaging.

Your readers will stop reading if they find your subheadings boring, so make them fascinating. Whether it means showcasing interesting keywords or shocking the reader with unexpected phrases that create curiosity and make them want to read on.

However, avoid clickbaits that have nothing to do with the following text. Provide clues about what they’ll read next while using attention-grabbing languages.

3. Include keywords and phrases.

Keywords and phrases help grab a reader’s attention by being specific—without giving spoilers. For instance, if you’re writing an article about eating healthy, you might include keywords like “recipe” or “diet” in your subheadings. Key phrases like “the best recipes” and “how to eat healthily” might be relevant to your content.

To determine what keywords are relevant to your content, you might want to look at search results about your topic. This way, you’ll see what words and phrases make it easier for search engine optimization.

4. Use parallel structures.

Make sure the keywords and phrases in your subheadings are parallel. For subheadings where you make a list of information, ensure to keep them consistent.

If you begin a subheading with an action verb, follow through with it. Having parallel subheadings can make your piece flow uniquely and provide readers with a consistent reading style.

For instance, the subheadings below about the steps for making pancake begin with action verbs and are parallel.

  • Grab your ingredients
  • Review the recipe
  • Mix the ingredients
  • Add oil to a pan
  • Pour the batter into the pan

Other Tips for Writing Effective Subheadings

  • Be concise – the shorter, the better.
  • Avoid puns – jokes don’t work as subheadings.
  • Provide urgency – give your reader a reason to engage with your content.
  • Use precise language – overly-complicated words or vocabulary can be hard to understand.
person holding on red pen while writing on book
Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

To Wrap Up

There are many reasons why you should learn the right way to create subheadings. Subheadings make your piece more organized, increasing reader retention and strengthening readability.

Start by writing subheadings that are relevant to your article. Also, make them engaging to hook your readers. This guide answered the question: What are subheadings, including tips on how to write winning subheadings – now it’s time to get going.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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