To Enumerate, Or Not To Enumerate

Another post from the Hamlet series

Okay, so I am still trying to learn the tricks of this trade, and I am always happy to listen to more experienced bloggers with lots of followers.  But there is one piece of blogging canon that is beginning to get on my nerves:

Thou shalt sprinkle thy posts with numbers.

“5 Things Readers Don’t Want to See.” – “ 7 Common Mistakes in Script Submissions.” – “The 8 Rules of Success.” And, apologies to Copyblogger who post fabulous advice but this is just too much: “37 Tips For Writing Emails That Get Opened, Read and Clicked.”

37… Dog help me, that is one post I am not going to open, read and click.

I get it. Numbers, bullet points do help drive home the message, and they also help me retain the message – provided there aren’t too many. Once they threaten me with more than 10 points, I switch off. And that has nothing to do with the shortness of my digital-age attention span. In fact, my attention span is pretty good (especially when I find something to procrastinate over). But serve me a post with 37 bullet points, and I will not retain even the first five.

That’s one thing that bugs me about the enumeration craze. The other is that these days everybody and their uncle are doing it. Sometimes I have the impression that a blogger sat down and thought, I have to do numbers, so what can I possibly write around eleven numbers? Or  perhaps they have a good idea for content but feel obliged to squeeze it into the enumeration corset, and so lose the freedom to argue and engage.

I guess that’s it for me. Numbers don’t invite me to engage. They lecture. Often it is good advice that is offered this way. But IMHO there is too much of it out there.

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2 Comments

Filed under social media, writing

2 responses to “To Enumerate, Or Not To Enumerate

  1. dhk

    As a magazine journalist, I can tell you that the notion has been around a lot longer than that. Numbers make great cover lines was a mantra at every magazine I ever worked at. I don’t know who decided it, started it, or proved it, but it lives on.

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