August 17, 2017

6 tips for writing lists

People look at 70% of lists they encounter online

Think of your bulleted lists as the celebrities of your blog posts, webpages and other pieces.

6 tips for writing lists

Short list Lists draw readers, increase understanding and get shared — but only if you present them well. Image by Hope House Press

Lists “are to the web reader’s eye what Brad Pitt is to the paparazzi,” say Kara Pernice, Kathryn Whitenton and Jakob Nielsen, the authors of How People Read on the Web.… Read the full article

Quotes on list writing

What writers and others say

“In the spirit of Ethan’s neurosis, we made a drywall list of keyboard buttons we would like to see: PLEASE, THANK YOU, FUCK OFF, DIE, OOPS … MY MISTAKE, DO SOMETHING COOL AND SURPRISE ME.”
― Douglas Coupland, author, in Microserfs

“The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order.”
— Umberto Eco, renowned Italian author

“The list doesn’t destroy culture; it creates it.
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Three types of list stories

Choose from definitive, listicle and framework lists

Not all list stories are created equal. BuzzFeed’s Jack Shepherd lists three types of lists for Nieman Lab:

Three types of lists

Wish list The definitive list — all I want for Easter is a date with a girl with nice eyes, or at least one nice eye and a really cool patch; plus eight other things — is just one type of list that Buzzfeed favors. Image by Ian Muttoo

  1. Listicles.
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Top 10 reasons to write listicles

They’re the most shared type of content

From the beginning to the end, our lives are a series of lists. We start as an entry on a short list of baby names and end trying to fill a bucket list of experiences.

Attention span of a goldfish

Prize catch Your readers have — almost! — the attention of a goldfish. Listicles attract these highly distracted folks. Image by Indulge Media

Listicles (that’s a portmanteau of list and article) are among the most established, most popular and fastest-growing types of content.… Read the full article

Why tipsheets?

Service stories get read, shared, used and acted upon

How-to information is the No. 2 type of content that gets retweeted, according to research by Dan Zarrella (PDF), viral marketing scientist for HubSpot.

Top tips - how-to guide

Top tips Tipsheets like this one, from tabinspire.com, move further and faster on social media.

Here’s how often six kinds of information get shared on Twitter:

  • News: 78%
  • How-to information: 58%
  • Entertainment: 53%
  • Opinion: 50%
  • Products: 45%
  • Small talk: 12%

When it comes to brand communications, though, I’ll bet how-to information is actually the most shared.… Read the full article

Hit list

Lists top the list of blog posts that get shared

If David Letterman taught us one thing during his tenure as host of Late Night, it’s that people love lists.

Hit list

Readers insist on lists. Write your content in this format, and watch your social media shares go up. Image by Ana C.

It’s no wonder, then, that when Fractl and Buzzstream recently analyzed more than 200,000 articles from June to November 2014, lists topped the list of top 5 types of blog posts that get shared:

  1. Lists.
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Check it twice

How to write a good list

“I love lists,” writes Adam Savage. “Always have. When I was 14, I wrote down every dirty word I knew on file cards and placed them in alphabetical order.”

How to write a good list - bucket list image

I’ve got a little list Write lists for flippers and skimmers, as well as for real readers. Image by Cakey Hamburger

There are lots of things to list — organizational accomplishments, steps for getting the job done, dirty words.… Read the full article