ACES’ annual headline contest rewards good headline writing in newspapers, non-newspaper publications, and digital media. Entries are evaluated not just on the cleverness of the entered headline, but its sophistication, uniqueness, appropriateness, and its likely success in capturing readers’ attention.

Next year’s headline contest will open in early January 2018, with a deadline of late January 2018. Headlines published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2017, will be eligible for the contest. Return to this page in January for links to the entry forms. The details below are subject to change.

Professional individual entries

Student individual entries

Staff entries

The winners in Staff categories will get a plaque for the office wall, and individual certificates will be given to the members who contributed to 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 will be from a website and/or a social media account.

How To Enter

This year, please submit your files as PDFs only. (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 the entry form specifies which headline(s) should be judged.

You need not include the complete text of a story (i.e., include any text jumped to another page) unless you consider it necessary for 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 they would be entering.


Members: 1 free individual entry; $25 per each subsequent individual entry

Student* members: Free individual entries

Nonmember students: $20 per individual entry

Staff: $50 each entry; $25 for student staffs.

Nonmembers: $50 per individual entry

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


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

1A – 200,000+

1B – 100,000 – 199,999

1C – <99,999

2 – nonnewspapers

3 – online (includes both news and non-news and both website and twitter headlines)

4 – students

5A – Staff 200,000+

5B – Staff 100,000 – 199,999

5C – Staff <99,999

5D – Staff non-newspaper

5E – Staff online (both news and non-news; both website and twitter)

5F – Staff student

The Winning Headlines

2017 headline contest winners announcement

2016 headline contest winners announcement

Past contest winner announcements

Buy the 2017 Winning Headlines book