When an Image and Headline are out of sync ... WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

When A Paired image and headline flop, it’s often due to:

The theme of the visual (imagery and design) is disconnected from the headline’s theme.

The placement and scale of all the elements are imbalanced and fail to follow a hierarchal order.

A headline is too long. (Exceeds six words or 60 characters.)

Imagery and/or the headline are not compelling or useful.

Imagery is poorly executed, blurry, pale, excessively filtered, crooked, awkwardly cropped or overlayed with too much copy.

A collage image is taking too long to visually “read.”

Here are our tips to help you find that balance between taking risks that may allow you to stand out from the crowd, and serving up copy and creative your audience understands.

Seek Synergy

Grab and hold the attention of your audience using images paired effectively with words.


Connecting with an audience using high-quality images that are paired well with content raises the profile and perception of the source which, in turn, builds trust.

Cater to your audience

Based on the information you know about your audience, make imagery relatable and interesting for them.

imagery Should reinforce the theme of the story

Aim for novel images that encapsulate the gist of the story, or that are information-bearing, such as product photos or infographics.

Consider imagery placement and visual hierarchy

If the image and headline are not cohesive or lack interest, the page will likely be abandoned.

Pick up the pace By using Images

Imagery with captions or sidebars containing useful information peppered throughout the body copy can keep the reader engaged.

USE People in imagery

Pictures that contain people can create strong human connections.

Avoid crowd shots of people because they lack someone for readers to focus on.

Don’t enlarge faces bigger than life-size.

Consider Composition, COLORS and contrast

An image is the first thing readers will see, so make sure it grabs their attention by being bold and colorful.

About that headline

Online users will read only two or three words in a headline. Whether the medium is online or print, it’s important for editors and creatives to collaborate in order to arrive at that perfect union between words and imagery.

A disconnect between the two will only confuse and annoy your audience.

Hit a home run

Impress your audience and keep them engaged with carefully chosen images that are well-aligned with the story.


Cover image by Getty Images. All other images by Twirling Tiger Media.