The Ultimate Top 10 List for writing a Top 10 List

The Internet is littered with Top 10 lists.

Jimmy and Granddad visit ButtermereI’m not really a fan of Top 10 lists, but I was feeling like I was missing out, so thought I would write a Top 10 list for how to write a good Top 10 list:

  1. Make sure that the list the correct type of list. The relevant definition for a list is this: “A number of connected items or names written or printed consecutively, typically one below the other.” Please don’t try a list from this alternate definition: “(of a ship) Lean to one side, typically because of a leak or unbalanced cargo.”
  2. Use lots of over-exuberant adjectives. Here are a few that you might like to choose from: awesome, definitive, ultimate, extreme, conclusive, breathtaking, stunning, formidable.
  3. It helps to make the list look like it might contain some of the highly ranked items of something. It’s not normal to define the criteria or the scoring system and hence feel at liberty to put anything you like in the list, try not to miss out the obvious ones though.
  4. Sticking to round numbers is generally regarded as helpful. Most things in life can be slotted into a small subset of categories. You’ll find that 5, 10, 12, 20, 25 and 50 work will. Please try not to have a list of 37 items that isn’t what people are expecting.
  5. A numbering system helps and the normal convention is to start at number 1 and work down although I’m not sure why.
  6. Don’t worry about updating the list so that it remain relevant, you can just publish a new one at a later date. You can even publish one that completely contradicts what you write before, remember you haven’t defined the criteria or the scoring system so who’s going to disagree.
  7. Don’t worry about the scope of your list, the bigger the better. Here’s some you might like to consider: Ultimate Top 10 Stars in the Universe, Top 10 Favourite Snowflake Shapes, Awesome Top 10 Number Sequences in Pi.
  8. Running out of things to say now, so think I’ll stop here, or perhaps I should promise the other 2 via a ‘read more’ click and a registration interface just to really mess with your head.

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