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inboundMed Blog

Headlines, Headers & Tags: We really need to be on the same page!

Jul 21, 2016 5:30:00 AM / by inboundMed

apples_and_orangesFor new bloggers, knowing how to distinguish the different parts of a blog can be very confusing. This is partly because bloggers aren't always consistent about how they use their terminology. 

For instance, bloggers who started out as programmers may refer to certain aspects in blog design by the vocabulary they previously used inside the worlds of HTML and CSS.

Meanwhile, bloggers who started out in journalism will use these same words, but in different ways, due to the nature of their industry's jargon and applications.

What ends up happening is that people who are part of a blog team (writers, editors, designers, programmers)end up talking "apples and oranges," which can make the work more challenging than it already is.

Let's clarify the differences between these commonly used blogging terms so that we can all be on the same page (literally, figuratively, and digitally).


The headline is the main text at the top of any individual piece of published writing which conveys the nature of the content that follows it. Headlines are used in newspapers, blogs, and magazines to visually identify individual packages of content.

However, in books, white papers, and other forms of writing, the top line of identifying text is never a headline, but a title. 


 h1_heading_chart.pngA heading, as referred to in the context of HTML, is a text element that is preset inside a blog design to a specific definition (font, size, color, spacing, format, etc.).

Headings are assigned places in a hierarchy, with heading 1 (H1) typically defining the headline of a blog, and headings 2 through 6 (H2 to H6) serving a descending hierarchy of text (usually by size and visual weight).

H2 headings should be used to indicate key sections in your blog, and sections under H2 headings should be identified with H3, H4, H5... wherever you "drill down" inside that topic.

To confuse matters, sometimes people refer to headings in HTML as headers.

A heading, in the realm of journalism and print publishing, refers to a word, phrase, or sentence at the beginning of a passage of text which explains what it's about: a mini headline or mini title, if you will (although these are concepts and not common usage). 


There are lots of references to these! Stay with me.

  • Page header: The text that appears in the margin at the top of a printed page. In a magazine, a page header may include the name of the publication, the month or season, and the page number. In a newspaper, it may include the name of the section you are reading.

    If you print out something from the Internet, you may have your printer set to include a page header, which stamps a date and the originating URL in the upper or lower margin.sections_of_a_newspaper
  • Section header: In newspapers, content is organized by sections: sports, classifieds, national, etc.

    Each of these sections enlists text at the top of the pages to identify the sections by their content.

    In digital newspapers, section headers are now repeating elements not unlike blog headers (see below).

    In blogging, the static pages that may be part of the website hosting the blog may also use section headers (like blog headers), which repeat across the layers of these sections to help the reader navigate between and among pages. 
  • File header is the identifying information for any kind of digital file, whether it is text, image, audio, or video. It's not usually found in published space, but rather inside the coded components, file management systems, and other "behind-the-scenes" locations in a digital publication.
  • Blog header is the graphic image that commands the visual space at the top of a blog page. The "front page" of inboundMed uses this blog header (see below). It identifies the blog through both text and images. A blog header is not simply the logo, but the logo is often a big part of the blog header. It repeats on every page of the blog as part of its core template and functions as both a brand identifier and design element.

  • Header is also used as an abbreviated version of the word headline. But a header, technically speaking, is not a headline.


The subhead is to the print world what the heading is to the digital world. Subheads are also built on predefined typographical hierarchies, and they fall in line with the concepts of H2 to H6 in terms of assigning priority to content. Though bloggers generally refer to the Hs when talking about headings, they may also call them subheads, or even subheadings, just to keep you on your toes.

Caption photo_caption

This is dedicated text that accompanies an image, which is usually a photograph or other work of original composition. The caption identifies the content in the image, or shares its title, and often also includes an image credit with copyright status or courtesy acknowledgment (and maybe even a URL to link back to).

Most stock house images do not require captioning, but most original work does for copyright purposes.


These are like file headers in the sense that they aren't typically viewable immediately in a published digital work like a blog post. They are the keywords, titles, captions, or other auxiliary text assigned to images to help identify them from a search engine optimization (SEO) standpoint.

hashtag_speech_bubbleMost people are familiar with Facebook tags (in images, but also in direct connection to content). You can tag words or phrases in the digital world by prefixing them with a hashtag (#) or, in the case of Twitter, referencing an existing Twitter handle (i.e. @inboundmed). Using tagging shorthand like this can help your comments and images be "found" more easily inside social media.


The name of any original composition, whether it's an article, a book, a song, a painting, or any other creations, is the title. One of our e-books is titled Free Checklist, for instance.

Subtitle checklist-cover.jpg

Always subordinate to the title, the subtitle extends the identity of the content referenced in the title. Subtitles can help add clarity when titles are short, dramatic, and convey multiple meanings. In the case of our e-book shown here, the subtitle is: How to Run an Inbound Marketing Campaign. 

Takeaway: be consistent!

consistency_is_key.jpgWith any luck, this short guide to the jargon of publishing—whether it originates in the printed world or the digital onewill help you clarify what these different elements are and how they are best utilized. 

These terms of usage (and their functions) can vary widely, and readers of this blog may, in fact, disagree with these definitions! But that's okay. There's no one way that's better or worse than the other.

It's more important that we strive to be effective communicators. As long as everyone on your blog team is using these references consistently, you'll not be juggling apples and oranges when it comes to managing your content. 

Coming soon: Can images be worth more than 1,000 words? 

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Want to learn more about inbound marketing to attract new patients? Check out our free e-book for in-depth approaches to medical content marketing efforts you can use, plus much more.

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