5 Tips for Excellent Listicles

Laura Adkins


September 13, 2017 (Updated: January 23, 2024)

A listicle is a combination between an article and a list. People love listicles because they’re easy to skim and they give readers a clear idea of their length. A busy person could avoid clicking on a list if they think it will be too long. Also, numbers and lists attract people’s attention, and it’s easier to absorb information in lists. That’s why people write grocery lists for themselves instead of sentences or paragraphs. Here are five helpful tips for creating excellent, entertaining listicles.

1. Choose a Readable Format

If your listicle is too extensive with too many elements on the list, people could get bored. Also, a title that seems like it’s for a long article could keep readers from clicking on it. When each number or subheading on the list only has one or two sentences, it looks like you don’t have much to say about the topic.

You might get some people to scan an article called “65 Tricks for Keeping Your Home Clean”, but readers will assume that some of those tricks are things they’re already doing. On the other hand, a listicle called “15 Cleaning Tricks You Haven’t Thought of Yet” encourages clicks because it lets people know it’s short and full of unique ideas. It’s also more shareable.

You could use much of the same information in this listicle, and it might even have more words when you’re done. Since the format is easier to read, people will feel like they put in less effort and remember more of the numbers on the list.

Slideshows will give you more page views, so they’re great for increasing advertising revenues. Unfortunately, they’re also annoying for people with slow internet connections. They keep people from looking through all the subheadings in the listicle before they read it as well.

If you use a slideshow, include a view all button so that individuals who don’t like slides can still enjoy your article. You can also put a list of links to the different items in the listicle near the top of the first page so that people can skip the parts that don’t interest them. A slideshow that’s easier to use will keep readers coming back to your website.

2. Make an Outline

Proper planning is essential for all writing, including listicles. First, come up with a fun, catchy title that describes your topic and makes readers want to read the whole article to find out more. It can be a list of tips, steps, facts, or opinions. For example, the title for an article about buying a home could be “15 Essential Tips for First-Time Homebuyers,” “10 Steps for Buying Your First Home,” “5 Facts Buyers Must Know to Get a Good Deal on Their First Home,” or “7 Reasons Why a New Home is a Great Idea.”

After you decide on the title, write the subheadings. They don’t have to be perfect, and you can always change them later. If you decide that you have more or less to say than you thought you did when you wrote the title, just increase or decrease the number in the title to match the number of subheadings you end up with. Interesting subheadings will make writing listicles easier and encourage readers to finish them.

3. Focus on One Idea

Focus on one idea or a matching set of ideas for each article. The titles about buying homes in the previous section would all make good listicles. However, mixing and matching subheadings from all these titles would make a list or article that sounds rambling or confusing. If you put all the information in one listicle, it will be too long to keep the attention of most readers, and it will still seem confusing.

4. Include Entertaining, Useful Material

Image via Flickr by m.gifford

If any sentences in your listicle aren’t useful or entertaining, remove them. A listicle should be concise, not verbose. However, a few great jokes can make even the dullest topics fun to read about, and humor will encourage people to share your listicle on social media and keep readers coming back to your website. Images and infographics can also make reading easier, get people’s attention, and make your article more memorable.

You can also add a meme, like Mr. Spock from “Star Trek” saying “fascinating” after an interesting fact. Funny gifs, like a cat that seems to be reading a book or a scene from “I Love Lucy,” can make readers laugh or smile as well.

Just make sure any jokes, images, or other material you add fits well with the rest of your listicle. A joke won’t go well with an article about a serious topic like cancer or war, and a cat gif won’t fit in very well if the listicle is about dogs. Too many images or gifs could make loading the page slow for some people, so you should limit your piece to three or four images or use thumbnails.

5. Don’t Exaggerate

Never use the title to promise more than the listicle can deliver. It will keep people from clicking on it instead of getting them to read it. For example, an article called “These 10 Cleaning Tips Will Change Your Life” isn’t actually going to change anyone’s life. If you do a lot of housework or you’re a professional maid or janitor, some good tips might make life a little easier, but reading them won’t be like winning the lottery.

Instead of exaggerating, be honest and write the title as “Use These 10 Cleaning Tips to Make Life Easier” instead. A disappointed reader won’t come back to your website, and he or she could even tell friends to stay away as well.

Some people think listicles are a sign of poor writing, but they can really be easy to read, entertaining, and informative. Creating excellent listicles will help you reach more readers, especially today’s busy people. This type of article lets people read it on their phone while they’re in line at a coffee shop or while they use their computer at home with ease.

Author Image - Laura Adkins
Laura Adkins

I'm a professional writer who has created thousands of fascinating, informative articles and blogs for a variety of clients. I can cover many different subjects, and I always do thorough research.

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