Click bait: Forward-reference as lure in online news headlines

Jonas Nygaard Blom, Kenneth Reinecke Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This is why you should read this article. Although such an opening statement does not make much sense read in isolation, journalists often write headlines like this on news websites. They use the forward-referring technique as a stylistic and narrative luring device trying to induce anticipation and curiosity so the readers click (or tap on) the headline and read on. In this article, we map the use of forward-referring headlines in online news journalism by conducting an analysis of 100,000 headlines from 10 different Danish news websites. The results show that commercialization and tabloidization seem to lead to a recurrent use of forward-reference in Danish online news headlines. In addition, the article contributes to reference theory by expanding previous models on phoricity to include multimodal references on the web.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Pages (from-to)87-100
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cataphora
  • Discourse deixis
  • Forward-reference
  • Media commercialization
  • Online news headlines
  • Tabloidization

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