“The human animal differs from the lesser primates in his passion for lists.” – H. Allen Smith, American Journalist
Preparing for next week’s call, “How to Write a Better List,” I stepped back to reflect on why lists are such a popular format for blogs and articles. Here are my conclusions, some of which I wrote in an earlier article, “The Top 10 Reasons to Write a Top 10 List.”
As readers we love lists because:
- Lists are familiar and we know what to expect right off the bat.
- Even when the topic is serious, we have a positive association with Top 10 lists as a source of entertainment.
- Lists break information down into digestible chunks that are easy for us to absorb.
- Lists are easy to skim, helping us get a broad overview of a topic, even when we’re busy.
- Lists are linear, logical and organized – even when we’re not. There is something comforting about that.
As writers, we love lists because:
- Readers love them, so there’s a better chance they’ll keep reading and read/receive more content from us in the future.
- Lists provide an instant structure for generating article or topic ideas.
- Lists help you focus your mind, your topic and your writing.
- List items can be the foundational material for countless other projects such as other articles, book chapters, entire books, workshops, coaching programs or presentations.
- Lists challenge us to think of more ideas in order to come up with the number of points we’ve promised in the title.