Common Sense and Listicles

You’ve seen them everywhere, but perhaps you didn’t know they had a name. Those helpful articles of lists of principles you need to know are called …. listicles.

Listicle: (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) In journalism and 22258219973_0601b949d1_kblogging, a listicle is a short-form of writing that uses a list as its thematic structure, but is fleshed out with sufficient copy to be published as an article. A typical listicle will prominently feature a cardinal number in its title, such as “10 Ways to Warm Up Your Bedroom in Winter”, “The 5 Most Badass Presidents of All-Time”, or “9 Things James Taylor Will Never Understand”, with subsequent subheadings within the text itself reflecting this schema. The word is a portmanteau derived from list and article. It has also been suggested that the word evokes “popsicle”, emphasising the fun but “not too nutritious” nature of the listicle.

It’s not long and detailed, but a brief overview of the subject matter with an immediate and direct application to life. Most listicles are about you, after all, and how you can become more … or less … or whatever you aim to be. That’s how they draw you in, with the promise of some information that will be immediately helpful to you.

I began to wonder if there is some common sense to the listicles that draw me in. Are the ideas held in common? If thousands of writers are going to describe an orange or an American flag, then the lists of characteristics should in some way hold common items. Why? Because they seek to name or describe a common reality, a common topic, a common perception:  success, beauty, happiness, peace, etc.

Is there a common sense to them? And so was born what I hope to call the Listicle Project … to list the best ones here, the ones that draw me in, and summarize them, looking for that central nexus point which all hold in common related to their topic.

And in so doing, make a list of lists, holding the best points out to offer myself as good advice. As common sense.


Resources:  The photo by Mike Gifford entitled People Love Listicles is courtesy of the Creative Commons License and can be viewed at

Some worthwhile Listicles on listicles:

“The appeal of the listicle stems from the schematic layout on how each article is presented. Each fact that is being presented within the article is numbered off and condensed to one or two sentences. This creates a familiarity with readers about what type of article they are about to open and how much time will be spent reading the article.”       10 Reasons Why People Love Listicles By Alexis Barranca January 14, 2015

But why are people clicking on them? Here are a few reasons:
No Filler
They’re Short
Not Just Written Word
Easy To Digest
Easy To Go Viral … from 6 Reasons Why You Clicked: A Study in Listicles by Josh Lauritsen | Apr 15, 2015

How to Write an Article in 20 Minutes by Jim Estill
1. Keep an idea list.
2. Let your ideas incubate.
3. Edit before you start
4. Use bullet points
5. Keep it short
6. Come back later
7. Never save a good idea


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