It's true that sometimes readers like the tidiness of an article that offers a specific number of tips or tricks—to get wine off a white shirt or to please your man.
But an editor mustn't get carried away. (In fact, not getting carried away is perhaps an editor's main skill.)
This morning on a PR trade publisher's website I am offered:
20 tips to help you proofread like a pro
15 tips to refine your email etiquette
10 everyday words that are often misused
5 corporate writing tips from Winston Churchill
One word or two? 6 pairs of commonly confused compounds
10 surefire ways to fail at Twitter
6 SEO changes to immediately make to your site
The No. 1 PowerPoint rule every presenter should ignore
5 PR lessons from Jackie Kennedy Onassis
5 ways TED catapulted into a global brand (and how you can, too)
4 ways to make your logo effective
While readers aren't actually tallying the numbers, this teetering stack of tips must give the reader a heavy feeling of duty, if not also a sense of the absurdity of bundling the whole wild and hairy world into infinite groups of tidy lists.
Perhaps tomorrow I'll offer 3 ways editors can make sure they vary their headline techniques so to avoid self-parody.
While we’re at it, can we dispense with the cutesy tactic of throwing in a “bonus tip” at the end. Or, just as bad, ending with a “rule” that, having cited the list of however many rules for this or that, proclaims that “there are no rules.” The only time to include these two bits is if you’re writing about the rules for cliche articles about rules.
David Murray says
From now on this will be known as Rueben’s Ruel.
The only exception to Rueben’s Ruel is the variation in the classic Monty Python Australian Philosophy Dept sketch and it’s rule #6 (“Rule 6: there is nooooo, rule 6.”). Because it was original when they did it.
polo ralph lauren pas cher says
il n’ya pas de règles. “Le seul moment où d’inclure ces deux bits est si vous écrivez au sujet des règles pour les articles cliché sur les règles. Je vais aller de l’avant et mettre en signet votre site pour y revenir plus tard.