3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Numbered Lists in Your Posts

February 8, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park  

Numbered listsNumbered lists are great for attracting attention and conveying your thoughts in a clear and easy-to-read format. They perform extremely well on social media sites like Digg and Sphinn and are commonly used in magazine tabloids because they produce headlines that stand out and are more likely to be read by a large audience. In fact, this very post uses a numbered list and the fact that you are here reading this goes to show how well they work. Are you using numbered lists effectively? In this article, I’ll explain why and when you shouldn’t use numbered lists in your posts. I bet you weren’t expecting that one.

Why you shouldn’t use numbered lists in your blog posts and articles

1. Overused and abused
Because numbered lists work so well, it’s easy to overuse the method when creating your articles. If every post you write is a numbered list, what makes them stand out and attract attention? The reason why numbered lists work so well is partly because they are unique and easy to follow. If overdone, people will grow tired of numbered lists and the method will begin to lose it’s effectiveness. Be sure to use sparingly for best results.

2. Difficult to differentiate yourself
Again, since numbered lists are becoming more and more popular in the blogging world, everyone and their brothers are using them as part of their strategy to write effective posts. All blog posts are starting to look the same and if you want to differentiate yourself from the crowd, it’s important to do something different or to use a different strategy.

3. Limited depth – surface level coverage
Numbered lists work well in sparking interest and providing information in a clear and concise fashion. However, the problem is that they are rarely able to go into much detail beyond the surface level. If your goal is to deliver comprehensive information in your articles, you might want to stay away from the numbered list approach.

Are you using numbered lists for your blog posts and website articles? They work well in many cases but the above 3 reasons show that it may be wise to use a different strategy.

Can you think of any more reasons why you shouldn’t use numbered lists? Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below.

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Comments

23 Responses to “3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Numbered Lists in Your Posts”

sven on February 8th, 2008

Great that you used a numbered list to underline your points on how to not use a numbered list 😉
I think real numbered lists are overused with all the top whatever listings. It’s good to use them, but only occasionally.

Gyutae Park on February 8th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Haha, well it was partially a joke. Kind of ironic isn’t it? But you’re right. Numbered lists are overused so much these days that they are starting to lose their effectiveness.

 
 
O. Messaoud on February 8th, 2008

Haha … Using a numbered list to say that they shouldn’t be used 🙂 Great !

Gyutae Park on February 8th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Sorry I just couldn’t help myself. 😛

 
 
Tom Beaton on February 8th, 2008

It is ridiculous how many lists are appearing. A few blog posts suggesting they are great for social media and everyones making every other post a list of sorts. It needs to stop.

Gyutae Park on February 9th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

A numbered list is almost like the standard blog post these days. It’s not really that effective if everyone else is doing it.

 
 
Wess Stewart on February 9th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

…and standard blog posts are boring.

Gyutae Park on February 11th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Yeah, but that really depends on what the “standard” is at the time.

 
 
AndrewPavelski on February 9th, 2008

I disagree. Numbered lists make posts easy to follow, look more organized, and are more appealing to visitors…especially from social networking sites…

Gyutae Park on February 9th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

You’re right. Numbered lists are a great way to format the information. However, it’s getting to the point where everything and anything is being placed into a numbered list. When that happens, all originality is lost and there’s no creativity in the way people present things. I’d like to see something unique with all of the benefits a numbered list provides.

 
 
Wess Stewart on February 9th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

How about using different types of donuts in lieu of numbers in the order of which you would eat first, working your way through the box until you reach the best one…which would represent the ‘greater’ number.

That’s convoluted. I need to sleep perhaps.

But it IS an alternative!

Gyutae Park on February 11th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Haha. That’s very creative Wess. Although I think we’d all turn into police cops after something like that.

 
 
Ruchir Chawdhry on February 10th, 2008

Hehe, kinda funny you used lists to make out your point.

Gyutae Park on February 11th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Yep, the irony of the post I guess.

 
 
Ty Brown on February 10th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Ha Ha, very funny… Maybe I’m a sucker but whenever I see a number list it still gets my interest.

Gyutae Park on February 11th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Yeah, there’s no denying that numbered lists work. But I think it’s time we see something new and fresh.

 
 
Irish on February 13th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Good reasons…But, however I still prefer with numbered list. It help us to get the point faster, clearer, and easy to memorize. Anyway, you still use it too 🙂

 
Ruchir Chawdhry on February 17th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

On top of this there are just too many of these around.

 
Louis Liem on March 24th, 2008

You can also use numbered list with a link to the explanation for the people who are interested to know deeper.

 
Leah Burch on March 25th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

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