Lists (and countdowns)

Let us list all the reasons that we love lists...


So you want to write about a topic but don’t know how to write it?

Breaking your story or topic down into list form can be a fantastic way to communicate your message. People tend to skim read an article, and lists and countdowns are easy to read with a flexible format so your audience can understand your main points clearly and succinctly. 

You’ll find these lists or ‘top 10’s’ everywhere on the internet as they can be used to entertain or educate your audience in a fun and simple way.

We’ve put together our own list of top tips when putting together your own list.


  1. 1 Keep your list organised and to the point


    People love reading lists. They are some of the most viewed articles on the internet. This is because they break down their topics into bite sized chunks and allow people to skip to the topics they’re most interested in. To do this, think of the main points you want to raise in your article and use these as starting points for your subheadings.

    When you’re organising your list make sure each section is defined and concise. Also check each list item is within the context or answers your title. If you’re talking about cats, don’t drift off and start talking about dogs!

    Unless you’re making a step-by-step process, it's always a good idea to put your strongest point or tip first. People often skim articles so you want to grab their attention and keep them on your page.


  2. 2 Choose your tone of voice and show your personality


    Lists are great because they give you the opportunity to show more of your personality through your writing. When reading lists people aren’t expecting a long, formal piece of writing. They’re usually looking for an answer to a specific question, an opinion on a topic or something quick to read to pass the time. It’s ok to keep it light and add some humour if it’s appropriate.


  3. 3 Stay consistent


    When writing your list try to keep the formatting and style of writing consistent. It makes your text easier to read and more engaging, so people are more likely to read your article to the end.


  4. 4 It’s ok to show your opinion


    Lists can become opinion based (in fact a ‘Top 10’ is itself a ranked opinion) and it’s completely ok to showcase your opinion, as long as you remember to respect the opinions of others in return.

    In fact, you could even generate some great discussion in the comments about your list with other readers.

    Be sure to follow our guidelines if you’re unsure of anything.


  5. 5 Use images


    They say a picture is worth 1,000 words (I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but they said it) and it’s true that a good image can help support your message, as well as break up the information in an article.

    A good image can also make people stop skimming and take notice of what you’re writing about (like seeing an image of a goat). Which is why it’s also important to make sure your image is relevant to the point you’re making (unlike using the image of a goat - unless of course you're writing about goats).

    We’ve got some more tips about images and how to source them on our adding great graphics article.


  6. 6 Don’t forget to edit and check your work!


    We all know you don’t want spelling or grammar mistakes in your work, but it’s also equally important to make sure that you’re getting your point across accurately. What might make sense to you may read completely different for someone else. So it’s always a good job to get someone else to read through your work if you can. The feedback you receive can also help to refine your writing style.


Now it's time to write your list...

We hope these tips help you with producing your amazing lists and countdowns! If you need any extra help please do get in touch at oustudents-magazine[at]open.ac.uk.

We look forward to reading your work!


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The Editorial team.