Writing a headline is one of the more difficult of subediting jobs. It takes a high concentration on the materials of the story – the facts and supporting quotations – to render them quickly into a few short words that will tempt the reader to read on, even though the reporter may have encapsulated the main points.

Some subeditors have a natural flair for it at first reading of the copy, but headline writing comes mostly with painstaking practice. The best ones are not necessarily quick off-the-top-of-the-head ideas; they can be the result of patient juggling with words on a copy pad after subbing on the screen is completed. Here, ...

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