8.5 Reasons Why Numbered Lists are Better

Hey there everyone!!

I’ve always had a fascination with numbers.  When my massage therapist asked me to pick a number from 1 to 10 to indicate how much pressure I was feeling, I exclaimed “pi”.  She said “what?” and I replied, “I can’t get any more precise than 3.14159265359…”

But numbers do make it easy for all of us to consume new knowledge, especially in this age of information overload.  Think of the super popular books “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” or “The Four Agreements” or “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”.  Movies like “The Sixth Sense”, and “Seven” are more mainstream examples.

So what’s so good about numbered lists?  What do extra numbers do for us?

1. Numbered Lists Create a Sense of Consistency

Whether writing a report or conveying a story, a numbered list can make sure that our content is evenly distributed.  We want to make all of our content seem substantive, and the best way to do this, is to evenly distribute our substance through numbered lists.

2. Numbered Lists Create a Sense of Structure

Sometimes numbered lists can evolve into categories or hierarchies, or even complex flow charts.  Having at least a numbered list creates a visual map for people to digest content in easily consumable, bite-sized chunks.

3. Numbered Lists Allow People to Skim

It’s easy to get lost in a long essay.  That’s why some people don’t like reading fiction, and prefer this instructional format.  Instead of abounding an entire article should somebody get bored, they can instead easily move to the next section and consume what is relevant for them.

4. Numbered Lists Cater to All Personalities

If you are familiar with the DISC model of personality types, then numbered lists i) Allow the D’s to Decide which numbers to read, ii) Allow the I’s to Impulsively jump from number to number of their choosing, iii) Allow the S’s to Stick with the laid-out chronology, and iv) Allows the C’s to Criticize each point individual, and wonder if any points are missing.

5. Numbered Lists are Easier to Create

Rather than being overwhelmed with the depth of research or work involved with a particular message, simply start with a list.  Making a list is easy, and paints us the simple overview we often need.  Then, once we have all the major points down, it’s just a matter of filling in each point with explanation.

6. Numbered Lists have More Real & Perceived Value

Usually I start with a number like 7, but the list grows to a number like 10.  Our brains work harder thinking of new numbers to add to our lists.  And I’m sure readers appreciate the thoroughness that goes into making such lists.  Plus, numbered list just look like they have a lot more to offer.

7. Numbered Lists Invoke Intrigue

Why 7?  Why 10?  People are highly motivated by curiosity, and are more likely to read a long posting if it is numbered, simply because they want to understand the formula that we created.

8. Numbers Can Always Be Added

We may think of points to add after we have published and promoted an article like this.  No problem!  We can think of several more points, and make a part II of the article.  A simple narrative may seem disjointed in parts, but numbered lists work independently, and together.

8.5 Numbers Can Have Greater Precision

The simple technique of making .5 points or otherwise playing with numbers can be very alluring.  Entertainment giants do this all the time.  Think about the hit sitcom “Two & A Half Men” or the feature-length movie “2 Fast 2 Furious”.

Have fun with numbered lists.  You never know where they will take you.  Well, to infinity and beyond, of course!  🙂

Let’s love the world together…

Love,
Danish Ahmed, blind visionary
http://www.facebook.com/OrdinaryWords
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