The art of the list

by scotslawstudent

Straight across the internet you will find no shortage of people who want to tell you how to write your blog. A lot of them look at it from a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or copywriting perspective which is fine if you like that sort of thing. It’s not the only way to write, though.

I came across this link as an advert on On a personal note I dislike their advertising. It’s designed to fit into the socially recommended links so it’s a wee bit like someone pretending to be your friend to sell you stuff. I think the “no one knows you’re a dog” problem is bad enough online without advertisers taking advantage of it.

The post says:

“What works best for me is to see if a post has an ordered (1, 2, 3) or bulleted (*) list; if it does, it’s probably worth reading.”

In fact, it says, writing which isn’t set out in a list is probably written by someone called Kevin. I-am-not-making-this-up. He also suggests that you should highlight the keywords using HTML formatting.

I find it a little sad. That’s not nearly all that makes a piece of writing good. All it suggests is that the writer knows their SEO principles. Good typesetting is an important thing in writing but it’s just the cherry on top.

Some kind of structure is a desperately important thing for your writing to have and picking out the “important words” in bold does mean that people can skim your writing like nobody’s business. It’s just a bit sad that this guy thinks you must put it in a list for people to read your stuff. I’m yet to see a newspaper, essay, novel, or so on that was set out as a list of bullet points with the keywords in bold despite these often being excellent pieces of writing.

You shouldn’t make your writing needlessly obscure but please don’t write for the lowest common denominator either. It hurts us all.