Oh, the listicle. A style of journalism that some frown upon, is seldom well written, but fun and easy to digest. In fact, some would say writing a listicle is easy. But why is an article written in a list format seen as shallow or lazy journalism? Couldn’t the listicle report accurate and useful information, while still being entertaining and digestible? If the writer does thorough research and homework, I don’t see why not! So, here’s a listicle (I had to do it), showing you a few rules to follow when writing a listicle.
What is your objective? Deciding an angle is an important factor in making sure your listicle stands out amongst so many others. Are you reporting Top 10 Places to Snorkel? What makes this list appealing when there are so many travel listicles out there? Perhaps it’s a specific area you’re reporting on like the Pacific Coast or Mexico.
Rarely do listicles report accurate information. Even if your listicle is based on personal experience (for example, Five Things I Learned from Dating Apps), give the reader a reason to keep reading the list. Accuracy and credibility are a sure way to keep the reader engaged. Maybe lead in with a funny Tinder experience that many others could relate to.
I think five to ten-item lists are a great number to stick with, however, you might choose more items if you’re reporting on a broader topic. If the listicle is Top 25 Breakup Songs, this might be the magic number since there are So. Many. Breakup. Songs. Again, think about research with lists of this type. How was the top 25 determined? Is it Billboard Charts? And if it’s more subjective, think about how your list will come across as credible. Maybe personal breakup experience would come in handy here. If you’ve been heart-broken numerous times, this could be a self-deprecating and humorous listicle.
The final step in presenting a good listicle is the look and title. A catchy title is going to be a factor in whether your listicle stands out from others. With this listicle, I added humor into the title A Listicle on Listicle Writing as well as appealing to the fact that it’s just 4 Easy Steps. I found several other listicles that were 8 or more steps. My angle is to simplify a task, and I want the readers to be enticed by a quick read. Another tool for packaging your listicle is determining a look. Some authors use memes, others choose bullet points or paragraphs. All are acceptable formats but think about what best illustrates your point.
Perhaps the listicle isn’t as easy to execute as it is to read, because the writer must consider the above factors to present legitimate and informative material. However, sticking to the above guidelines are essential. Therefore, “listicle writing, simplified” means that the author can be at ease knowing they followed protocol and delivered on good journalism.