- They are scannable. Lists allow readers to identify key points quickly and decide if they want to read further.
- They are short. List posts are easy to consume because they are organized in bite-sized pieces.
- They are easily understood. Lists are a good way to break complex content into more manageable pieces.
I love reading list posts for all of the reasons above. I love writing them because they are most like teaching. I teach by introducing a topic, then presenting key points, followed by a short explanation of each. List posts are formatted the exact same way.
8 tips for writing list posts:
1. Introduce the topic
You can’t just jump into your list, otherwise the reader won’t know what you’re writing about. You have to introduce the reader to your topic. The introduction doesn’t have to be long, though. A paragraph or two will do.
2. Write an enticing title
Numbers lay the foundation for good blog titles, helping to attract readers and encourage sharing.
3. Be concise
Use short sentences in short paragraphs to make the post as scannable as possible. Using bold or larger subtitles for list objects also helps make the post more scannable.
4. Number items
The best lists are numbered. You may decide the number of items you’ll have beforehand (Ex: I want to have a dozen items on this list) or list your points first. I list my points first, then number them. I think this keeps my lists as comprehensive as possible. I don’t want to miss points because I’ve arbitrarily chosen a number.
5. Format items consistently
Keep your list items in the same structure or format. I like to hold my list items to two or three words and start them with a verb.
6. Pare down
After I brainstorm all of my points for a list post, I review them to see if any can be combined to make my list shorter.
7. Think sequence
Keep your lists in logical order, introducing and building on concepts as it develops.
8. Seek help
Before I begin writing a list post, I consult a variety of sources. These include:
- lecture notes,
- blog posts I’ve saved in Evernote,
- asking questions of my social media network, and
I do this until the information begins to overlap and I think I understand the topic comprehensively enough to write.
After I’ve written the list, I include suggestions for additions to my list in the call to action. Sometimes, like in this post about finding blog images, reader comments make wonderful additions to the list. They also create suggestions for expanding lists in future posts.
List posts are helpful to read and fun to write. I personally enjoy them because I find them most like the format used for teaching and learning. Perhaps not ironically, teaching and learning are the purpose of this blog, making it a natural place for list posts.
Do you like to read list posts? Do you write them? If so, what helpful tips do you have for making them better?