1. Numerals are fine. Proper AP style in a story requires you to write: “The man robbed three women at gunpoint.” But the heds for that story could say: 3 women robbed…or Man robs 3 women. The second one is better because “robs” is active while “robbed” is passive.
2. Periods are not needed! Very rare that you will need to use a period in a headline unless you are trying to write complete sentences, which is also rare. A semi-colon can be used to introduce a new thought. For example: Jobless rate hits 10 percent; 2 million people lost jobs in Oct.
3. Almost always OK to replace the word “and” with a comma. For example: Obama, Biden to visit Iraq….or Obama visits Iraq, Iran, Japan, China
4. Heds do NOT need to be complete sentences. See examples above.
5. Avoid question heds, quote heds, etc. They can effective….RARELY!
6. Make sure the headline accurately portrays the story that follows. Think of them as 50- and 94-character sneak previews.