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DigitalJournal.com Tip #44: How to write a Top 10 article

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By David Silverberg
Posted Oct 22, 2012 in Internet
The list article, as the top-10 post is often called, can be an effective way to convey your information in an easily recognizable format. Sometimes, an article calls for a list, such as The 7 Movies You'll Want to see in December. Or the Top 5 Presidential Debate Moments.
Writing these list articles is pretty straightforward. You start with a headline bound to grab attention, such as the aforementioned headlines above. I went with an eye-grabber recently: The top 8 microscopic images you'll ever see
Then write an intro explaining what you'll be listing to readers. What's the news value of this content? It's important to make sure the article is still timely, so don't write Top 5 Gardening Tips if there's no news hook.
Then after another few paragraphs setting up the list (why does this matter now? How popular is this topic?), start listing the items in question. You can number them or use bullet points. Or use sub-heads (perhaps in bold) to break apart the list.
For the movies idea, include the trailers. Photos work well too, as you saw in my microscopic images post. Remember, you can use copyright photos in these instances because it's fair use if you write exclusively about the pics, if the pics are the main reason you writing the content.
BuzzFeed is notorious for spreading the gospel of list articles. Look at this one on things you didn't know about Halloween. It's interesting and works as a timely post, since Halloween is around the corner.
List articles also let you display your sense of humour (remember to mark such posts as Op-Eds). You can be creatively flexible with how you write about each item, just as long as they reinforce your article's thesis. It's easy to stray from the topic in order to inject some humour, so be wary of how far you veer off that path.
Try writing a Top 10 (or whatever number) post on Digital Journal, and note there is now an Assignment in the Desk on writing timely list articles. Let us know if you have any questions.
Happy posting!

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