Top 10 Ways to Write Lists

Are you tired of losing track of things? Are you struggling to convey your thoughts to a large number of people in a quick, simple, and effective manner? Do you have uninformed advice on a topic but no idea how to structure it? If you said yes to all of these questions, then you’re ripe for making lists! Here are the ten best ways to help you with that:

1) Think of ten things

Whether you create a grocery shopping list or a Buzzfeed article, it’s all about the numbers. Normal lists come and go, but Top Ten’s stand the test of time. The reason for that is simple: Ten is a nice number. If you make a list with more than ten things, it’s likely that no one wants to read it. It takes the human brain an approximate amount of one thing longer to read a list with more than ten things. Most people don’t have that much time on their hands and will not engage in anything beyond a Top Ten. On the other hand, Top Five’s can be a gamble. Yes, they will save time for the readers, but likewise it will save you time writing it; therefore, it creates the appearance that you don’t care about putting any effort into your work.

Even if the list is just for you, going beyond ten will deter yourself from reading it. This all stems from our primal fear of math problems. Once the number exceeds the amount of fingers on our hands, the neurons in our brains start misfiring and create a condition known as “mathemania”. Don’t google that, there’s no time. You have a list to write.

2) Write about things that you want to remember

There are many reasons why one would start writing a list. But instead of writing a list of reasons, we will focus on the most important of all: to remember the thing that you are writing down. Lists have a long lasting effect on human memory. People who look back at something they wrote down are more likely to remember it than people who forget about the thing. Scientist were unaware of this phenomenon until one of them finally wrote it down.

So you better get started before you forget what the point of this was.

3) Finish your list

Starting your list is fine and dandy, but what separates the pros from the amateurs is finishing the list. In order to finish your Top Ten you will need to list all ten things you wanted to write down. This can be a difficult task as you have to keep track of all the ten things before you even write the list. One helpful advice to overcome this issue is to write the ten things down first, and then begin writing your Top Ten list with your list of ten things as a guide.

4) Organize

If you write a list with ten things in no particular order, anything could go wrong. You could lose your audience because you wasted your best point in the very beginning and run out of juice half-way through. Even worse, you could end up with an item on your list that needed to be mentioned way before all the others. Such a mishap could confuse the hell out of your readers.

In order to prevent these debacles, you should organize your list. Whether your audience is a national reader base or just you walking around aimlessly in Home Depot, you need to keep the reader’s attention. Start by firing off a good point, then simmer down a bit, give another good one that hits the spot, chill, and then finish the list with a grand exit. This rollercoaster of list writing will keep the audience on the edge of their seat and ensures they’ll stay until the very end. Who knows, they might even be treated to a surprise they could have never seen coming.

5) Get the right materials

The very first thing anyone should do before even thinking of any number of things to write down is to get the necessary equipment. Lists can be created with all sorts of tools. The ancients used ink and paper. The ink was used to form strange runes onto the paper. These runes were not direct representations but would reference the things they wanted to list. One downside of this method was the possibility of misplacing the list as it existed in physical form rather than digital, like most of our stuff nowadays. Don’t worry, if you choose this old-fashioned method, you can protect yourself from losing your list. The best way to keep track of it is to write down a list of ten possible locations of where you put it.

Now that you have your materials, it’s time to think of a certain number of things to write down.

6) Sneak in a teaser

It’s tough to keep someone’s attention, especially if you’re not writing anything interesting at all. But you don’t want the people to stop reading your list, just because you have nothing particularly important to say. So before you continue with your list, sneak in a little teaser somewhere in the middle. This little nudge towards something more interesting at the end will guarantee that they will finish reading it. No one likes being left on a cliff-hanger.

What’s that? You can’t think of anything worth placing in the end of your list? No problem, tease it anyway. By the time your readers have reached the end of your list, they will have forgotten all about the teaser. How are they supposed to remember it if they’re not writing it down?

7) Don’t bother fact checking

Are you writing a list about something in particular that you have only a vague idea about but want to voice your opinion on anyway? Welcome to the internet, don’t let facts get in the way of your list. Even better, make up some random scientific trivia to enforce your point of view. There are only two possible outcomes: people will blindly believe what you’re saying or violently rage against your villainous propaganda.

Don’t feel bad about creating negative responses. When it comes to your list it doesn’t matter if people love or hate it. The only important thing is that they share it with others.

8) Be consistent and double-check

Similar to the point of organization, consistency is important to keep the reader engaged and informed about the things on your list. If you contradict yourself at any point of your list, you risk losing your audience, or worse, lose their intent of sharing your list on their facebook timeline.

That goes as well for your personal lists. When you push that bacteria-ridden shopping cart through Wal-Mart (seriously, it’s not like they wash them) and you read something on your list that contradicts an earlier item, you’ll have doubts about everything on it and dismiss the whole thing. Once you start winging it in the grocery store instead of following your list, you’ll end up buying food you never needed, which will take up space in your fridge until you throw it out two weeks later.

So stick to your main message and double-check all the points to make sure that everything is on track to be the perfect list.


And there you have it. The eight best ways to create a list. Share this with others before you forget and make sure to send me a list of ten things you liked about this piece by following the above mentioned instructions.




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