The headline or heading is the text indicating the nature of the article below it.
The large type front page headline did not come into use until the late 19th century when increased competition between newspapers led to the use of attention-getting headlines.
It is sometimes termed a news hed, a deliberate misspelling that dates from production flow during hot type days, to notify the composing room that a written note from an editor concerned a headline and should not be set in type.
Headlines in English often use a set of grammatical rules known as headlinese, designed to meet stringent space requirements by, for example, leaving out forms of the verb "to be" and choosing short verbs like "eye" over longer synonyms like "consider".
A headline's purpose is to quickly and briefly draw attention to the story. It is generally written by a copy editor, but may also be written by the writer, the page layout designer, or other editors. The most important story on the front page above the fold may have a larger headline if the story is unusually important. The New York Times's 21 July 1969 front page stated, for example, that "MEN WALK ON MOON", with the four words in gigantic size spread from the left to right edges of the page.
In the United States, headline contests are sponsored by the American Copy Editors Society, the National Federation of Press Women, and many state press associations; some contests consider created content already published, others are for works written with winning in mind.
Some famous headlines in periodicals include:
The New Republic editor Michael Kinsley began a contest to find the most boring newspaper headline. According to him, no entry surpassed the one that had inspired him to create the contest: "WORTHWHILE CANADIAN INITIATIVE", over a column by The New York Times' Flora Lewis. In 2003, New York Magazine published a list of eleven "greatest tabloid headlines".
Research in 1980 classified newspaper headlines into four broad categories: questions, commands, statements, and explanations. Advertisers and marketers classify advertising headlines slightly differently into questions, commands, benefits, news/information, and provocation.
See also: Journalese
Headlinese is an abbreviated form of news writing style used in newspaper headlines. Because space is limited, headlines are written in a compressed telegraphic style, using special syntactic conventions, including:
Some periodicals have their own distinctive headline styles, such as Variety and its entertainment-jargon headlines, most famously "Sticks Nix Hick Pix".
To save space and attract attention, headlines often use extremely short words, many of which are not otherwise in common use, in unusual or idiosyncratic ways: 
The use of "slam" in headlines has attracted criticism on the grounds that the word is overused and contributes to media sensationalism. The violent imagery of words like "slam", "blast", "rip", and "bash" has drawn comparison to professional wrestling, where the primary aim is to titillate audiences with a conflict-laden and largely predetermined narrative, rather than provide authentic coverage of spontaneous events.
Main article: Syntactic ambiguity § In headlines
"Crash blossoms" is a term used to describe headlines that have unintended ambiguous meanings, such as The Times headline "Hospitals named after sandwiches kill five". The word 'named' is typically used in headlines to mean "blamed/held accountable/named [in a lawsuit]", but in this example it seems to say that the hospitals' names were related to sandwiches. The headline was subsequently changed in the electronic version of the article to remove the ambiguity. The term was coined in August 2009 on the Testy Copy Editors web forum after the Japan Times published an article entitled "Violinist Linked to JAL Crash Blossoms" (since retitled to "Violinist shirks off her tragic image").