The Savvy Subtitle: How to Work the Two Part Title
Posted on November 21, 2013 by Caitlin C
For clients who crave “clickable” titles, the clever colon is one way to instantly insert interest and intrigue into your blog posts (not to mention exciting alliteration!). By using a two part title, you can actually do a lot of work to immediately get readers on your side and engaged in your post. It’s also perfect if you’re a blog content writer who suffers from indecision. Can’t choose between two different title ideas? Throw ’em both up and reel in those clicks! While this “two heads are better than one” approach is a good place to start, you can eventually “work” the subtitle to several different, and satisfying, effects.
Cause and Effect
If you tend to write a lot of technical posts, the ability to describe a cause-effect relationship succinctly is key. A title that clearly lays out both the cause and effect of a common occurrence, problem, or industry trend can quickly communicate to readers that the purpose of your post is informative, and that your position is well informed.
Statement vs. Question
Using a subtitle is also a great way to give your readers the fundamental question guiding your title right off the bat. You can either position the question first or last, depending on your intended impact. For example, the two titles below are fairly similar in content, but the focus shifts depending on whether or not the question or the statement comes first:
- Google Panda and Authorship: Will the SEO Game Ever be The Same?
- Is Google Panda Influencing Authorship? How The SEO Game Stands to Change
The How-To Title
“How-to” titles are excellent for SEO purposes and ideally very useful for readers searching for information. On their own however, they’re pretty boring, and most marketing agencies and clients tend to want something with a little more “oomph.” Use a subtitle to relay the plain jane practical purpose of your how-to article, but lead off with an eye-catching, clickable phrase to elevate your title beyond the norm. Remember to make sure that the two halves of your title connect to one another as well as your overall topic, otherwise your reader will be left scratching their head instead of clicking to read more:
- Going the Distance: How Training for a Half Marathon Made Me a Better Content Writer
- “Do No Harm”: How To Vet Healthcare Writers and Get Great Content
Perfect Press Release
Subtitles are standard practice for press release writers, but all blog content writers can stand to take a page from their book. Use action oriented words coupled with the strongest keywords from the press release to create a logical subtitle that accurately forecasts the content of the press release, while still urging readers to read on in order to glean all the exciting details.
Working a two part title can take some getting used to, but playing around with subtitles can lead you to unexpected connections and a better piece of content overall.
Caitlin C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.
What it is: A commercial game by Hasbro, but you can also play your own version without buying it at the store. It’s a talking guessing game, good for lots of people.
What you need: Words to guess (either written down on strips of paper, or perhaps generated by a handy online word generator someone made) and a timer.
How to play: The point of the game is to get your team members to guess the target word by explaining the word to them out loud. The trick is, you can’t say the word (or any variant of the word) or you lose the round.
So to start, prepare a bunch of words or phrases on slips of paper (see below for some pre-made printable word lists, or use my online word generator). You could divide these into categories (famous people, foods, sports, household items, animals) or just mix them all together.
Put your papers into a bowl or hat and then situate all your players. Divide everyone up into two teams and have everyone sit in a circle, alternating members from each team (if you can find a way to divide teams like boys versus girls, then it’s good because it’s very easy to remember who’s on your team).
Choose one player, like Marty, to start. Marty takes the bowl of words, draws one, and immediately starts to describe it while at the same time someone starts the timer (for as much time as you all choose). As soon as Marty starts describing, his team members can start shouting out guesses (while the opposing team stays silent/watches the timer). Marty can say anything as long as it’s not the word written on the paper or any variant of the word. (The opposing team members sitting next to Marty can look over his shoulder and make sure he doesn’t say any words he’s not allowed to.)
Say Marty’s first word is baseball bat.
He could say:
“A long wooden thing you use to play a sport!”
However, he could not say:
“A long wooden thing you use to play baseball!”
“A long wooden thing you use to hit a ball!”
Because he can’t say any variant of anything written on the slip of paper. Marty could get creative, though, and say something like:
“The mammal that has wings and is black and flies around at night eating insects!”
And when his team members shout, “bat!” he could say:
“Okay, that same word, but used to describe something long and wooden you use in a sport!”
As Marty’s team members guess, he can provide feedback and keep talking, as long as he doesn’t say any word on the paper.
Speed is definitely the key, because Marty’s goal is to get through as many words as he can before the timer runs out. Each word his team guesses correctly gets them a point. When the timer runs out, pass the bowl to the next person in the circle, and they get a turn to draw words and describe them while their team guesses. Play moves like this around the circle, with lots of describing and shouting out answers involved. It’s a lot of fun. 🙂
The team with the most points in the end wins. You can have players just save their papers until the end to count points, or have someone write down the score after each round, for those players who like to know they’re winning (or not).
Strategies: Since speed is so important in this game, the faster you can give hints that will help your team members guess, the better. Well-known phrases or song lyrics are great, for instance. For example, if the word were snowman, instead of saying: “Something kids build in the winter that’s in the shape of a human…” you could just shout: “Frosty the…” and everyone would (hopefully) immediately shout “Snowman!”
Variations: You can choose to allow or prohibit skipping words (say if you draw one that’s just way too hard to describe or a word you don’t know the definition of). If you’re playing with younger players, maybe skipping passing is a good idea. But if you’re hardcore, maybe it’s not.
Also, you could play with a shorter time limit (maybe 10 seconds or so) and let each player describe only one word per turn. If they guess it, great; the turn ends, the team gets a point, and it’s the next players turn. If they don’t, too bad; no points for them that round. Just experiment to find out the best time limit for your group.
One fun rule to make it more challenging is to try to get people to guess the word by saying as few words as possible, like one or two. You could get more points the fewer words you used, if you really wanted to keep score.
Oh, and once I was playing catchphrase with my family and it was getting a little easy, so my sister suggested that each person had to use a random pre-selected word in each clue. The word we chose was “banana.” So, for example, if the word was baseball bat, we’d say something like, “This is kind of shaped like a banana in that it’s long and skinny…” Or if the word were tiptoe, we’d say something like “If you’re in a room with a lot of banana peels all over the floor, you might walk like this.” It was a kind of fun way to keep the game interesting, creative, challenging, and a little silly.
Printables: For your catchprase-playing pleasure, here are some ready-to-go word lists for you! Just click a list to open it, print it out, and then cut along the lines to create pre-made paper word slips. Or, for an even bigger list of words, check out my online game word generator, perfect if you’re playing with a laptop, iPod, or iPad handy.
Catchphrase Word List – Easy Words
Catchphrase Word List – Easy Words 2
Catchphrase Word List – Medium Words
Catchphrase Word List – Hard Words
Catchphrase Word List – Animals
Catchphrase Word List – Food
Catchphrase Word List – Household Items
Catchphrase Words – People
Catchphrase Words – Travel
Hopefully these word lists help you out, but if you like playing catchphrase, I’d recommend buying the electronic version of the real game. It’s a lot easier to play and keep score, and it has a ton of words. It makes the game a lot more fun.