- “Listicle” comes from “list + article”
A listicle is a short article written in the form of a list. You have most likely seen them with titles like “10 Amazing Facts About Spider-Man” or “7 Of The Oldest Pieces Of Art Ever Created”. The list format is widely recognized now as a trick that increases the readability of a piece, and it is used a lot, here and there, in online media. Some outlets even see it as a new genre in itself, running special sections named exactly that: “Listicles”.
- Readers anticipate something to be digestible if counted
Actually, that is a main function of journalism – to convert the immense picture of the world into a concise agenda of the day. Numbering is a tool that people (often naively) feel defines the indefinite. What will you choose, “Important Facts About Listicles” or “10 Important Facts About Listicles”?
- Listicles are part of a huge tradition
Many researchers have pointed out that the first listicle was the Ten Commandments. Another famous religious “listicle” was The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, legendarily nailed by Martin Luther to a church door in 1517, initiating the Protestant Reformation. Listicles are used in modern writing as well; remember The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.
- Listicles relieve your suffering on composition
You don’t need to tie the parts of your piece so smoothly together if they are just listed in points. You don’t even need a narrative structure (sounds good, huh?). Just list your points somehow, randomly, or in some order, like with, “Top Ten Worst Student Essay Topics” or “Six Meaner Dogs Than You Ever Saw Before”. You yourself can rank everything in whatever way you want without justification, thanks to the listicle as a format.
- Listicles are fast and fun
The very idea of these lists forces you to be concise. Long-drawn-out points would look silly. Moreover, the necessary brevity of the points can help you joke and play with words. So, you’re forced by the listicle format to be as fast’n’fun as you can be.
- Ease of creation of very attractive headlines
The listicle format consists of two essential parts: listed text and numbered headings. It is very simple to play with numbers and words in the headlines: “7 Things To…”, “6 Ways To…”, “12 Celebrities Who…”, etc. This pattern always works, especially when amplified by humour: “11 Tips For A Hot Funeral Selfie”, “9 Important Advances Made Because Of Beer”, etc. By the way, the trendy thing in listicle headings is to not use a round number. Ten is boring.
- Listicles are an appropriate way to appropriate interesting content
Get tired of searching for interesting topics and facts? Find, collect content from other sources, and rearrange it by means of listicles (don’t forget to put in the hyperlinks to the sources). Everything is fair; how the listing is arranged is part of your added authorial value and makes the work your own.
- Listicles go well with celebrities
Popular lists consist of what interests people, and the most interesting people are celebrities. That is why listicles and celebrities fit each other. Celebrities are the best bait for audiences. Check it out:
“22 Pictures of Miley Cyrus’ Open Mouth”
“Letterman’s 9 Most Hilariously Awkward Moments”
“Humaphors: The Top Ten Metaphors of Stephen Colbert”
“5 Reasons Why We Love Claire And Jamie From Outlander”
- Listicles are an endless source of inspiration
Look at Buzzfeed, the online phenomenon that has made a cult out of listicles. Recently, they even launched ListiClock.com, the online clock that gives a link to a listicle of theirs every second of the day. Go check it out when looking for a topic or a format for your next post.
- Listicles are extremely sharable
It’s hard to say exactly why; maybe for the reasons listed above. Well done listicles can easily go viral, sometimes even epidemic. Take a chance.
10.5. Read more about listicles
“Top nine things you need to know about ‘listicles’”, The Guardian
“10 Paragraphs About Lists You Need in Your Life Right Now”, The New Yorker
“5 Reasons Listicles Are Here to Stay, and Why That’s OK”, The Wired
Listverse.com (a website containing listicles only)
Author of Human as media. The emancipation of authorship
Categories: Emancipation of Authorship, Future of journalism
Thanks for a great article! Or I should say, listicle!