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I'm going to be preparing several case studies for my company and I'm pondering what patterns to use for headings—both the case study title and headings within a case study.

I'd like the reader to:

  1. be motivated to read on
  2. get a picture of what the study is about by just reading the headings
  3. be inspired to hire us

For titles, I'm thinking of either using the pattern "How " (e.g. "How Farmville got 32 million daily players") or ": " (e.g "Farmville: captivating a nation").

For headings within a page, I'm not so sure. Every heading could start with an interrogative adverb or with a gerund. At the same time, I don't want the titles to sound repetitive or forced.

I was also considering using plays on words, but those can be unnecessarily cryptic sometimes and a good pun isn't always readily available.

Are there any copywriting best practices on case studies or headings in general?

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I write a fair bit of user documentation as part of my work and have written many reports like those you mention as part of my postgraduate study. This has given me some familiarity with the subject.

I also have a background (and previous career) in sales and marketing and so I know that if you want to sell yourself (or indeed anything) then you need to supply solutions to the problems experienced by your client.

Therefore the approach I would recommend, to supplement your excellent pattern for titles, is to make your sub-titles answers to the statements given in the titles.

Here's how this would work in your case:

How Farmville got 32 million daily players

Excellent User Interface

Immersive Experience

Interaction With Friends

A Break from Your Worries

Then under each sub-title, you would write text containing the evidence to support the assertions you make, giving as much detail as is required.

Basically, what you are doing is writing bullet points under each title to give answers to the question posed by the title. Then you're fleshing out each point. Doing it in this way means that, if necessary, the title and sub-titles can stand as a document by itself.

As far as being motivated to read on goes - ask yourself 'if I were given solutions to my problems, would I be interested in reading on?'

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    I like this idea, and it essentially suggests titles and subsequent headings should construct a narrative. "Farmville: Captivating a Nation" doesn't invoke a narrative as well as the suggested strategy here, which is to pose a question and answer it. If you can make the narrative relevant to your client, as in positioning yourself to be a firm that can answer their questions, all the better. – MidwestIsTheBest Jun 4 '18 at 13:52
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I would say keep these in mind and you'll write the compelling headers you need.

  1. Persona
    Who are you writing this for? What do they want to get out of this case study. Use headings that will empower them to get that info. Hubspot's use in this Best Practices post is excellent - #4 is the headings section. (source)

  2. Skimming
    Know that very few readers are going to do more than skim through the headers and they will only read the sections they feel most important.

From my own experience, I have learned that if you speak with authority, your work will be taken as authoritative. This is not necessarily a good thing, but it is true. If you want this case study to convert readers into hiring you, write this as if you are the smartest, most authoritative person on this topic. Good luck!

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    A little tip about markdown: you can get soft linebreaks by having two spaces at the end of a line before hitting Enter. There is a little bar at the top of the box where you typw answers or questions that can help you with markdown. – Secespitus Jun 5 '18 at 17:22

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