Headline contest

ACES’ premier contest aims to reward great headline writing in newspapers, non-newspaper publications and digital media. In addition to earning prizes, winners are honored in a published book. (Buy last year’s contest book.)

Please note two important changes to this year’s contest!

Unlike past years, judges will be presented with judging guidelines that will ask them to consider not just the cleverness of the entered headline, but its sophistication, its uniqueness, its appropriateness and its likely success in capturing potential readers’ attention. (View those guidelines.)

Also this year, you must submit your files as originally generated PDFs only. (No scans and no JPGs, please.) You may crop the PDF to show only the headline and its accompanying story, or you may submit full-page PDFs as long as you are clear on the entry form which headline should be judged.

The headline contest for 2016 is now open, with a deadline of 11:55 p.m. PST Jan. 27, 2017. Headlines published from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2016, are eligible for the contest. Use these links to enter:

** Entry form for individual entries (all headlines by one editor) **

** Entry form for staff entries (headlines by multiple editors on one staff) **

Professional individual entries will be up for the following prizes:

  • 1st place: $300 and a plaque
  • 2nd place: $125 and a certificate
  • 3rd place: $75 and a certificate

Student individuals could win these prizes:

  • 1st place: $125 and a plaque
  • 2nd place: $75 and a certificate
  • 3rd place: $50 and a certificate

The winners in staff categories will get a plaque for the office wall, and individual certificates will be given to the members of the entries.

Staff entries for print headlines (including news, non-news and student) will consist of eight to 10 headlines. Individual entries will consist of five to seven headlines.

Online entries should be from a website, mobile app and/or social media account.

You need not include the complete text of a story (i.e., include any text jumped to another page) unless you consider it necessary to the judges’ appreciation of your work, or because you specifically wish to include display type on the jump as part of the entry.

A main headline and all related headlines that accompany it — deck heads, jump heads, picture overlines, etc. — as part of a single package are considered one headline entry.

Judges will be selected from a volunteer database, and a judge is not allowed to judge the categories in which she or he would be entering.


Staff entries are $50 each, or $25 for student staffs.

Members are given one free individual entry. Each subsequent individual entry is $25.

The individual entry fee for nonmembers is $50.

Student members’ individual entries are free.

The individual entry fee for nonmember students will be $20.

The student categories are reserved for work done at student publications.


CATEGORIES: If you work for a newspaper hub, your category is based on the circulation of the largest paper served.

1A: 200,000 or more

1B: 100,000 – 199,999

1C: 99,999 or less

2: nonnewspapers

3: online (both news and non-news; web, mobile, social)

4: students

5A: Staff 200,000 or more

5B: Staff 100,000 – 199,999

5C: Staff 99,999 or less

5D: Staff nonnewspaper

5E: Staff online (both news and non-news; web, mobile, social)

5F: Staff student