7 Steps to Writing a List Article for HubPages
List articles are everyone’s favorite type of article. Readers love lists because they are quick and easy to read. They are popular and great to share on social media sites. Writers love them because they are fun and easy to write, as long as a few simple steps are followed.
Many writers benefit by changing the format of their articles and giving them a “Top 10” type title. The list article’s format automatically helps writers organize their thoughts, provide readers with useful and relevant information, and even help new writers increase their word count. In other words, the list article improves your writing skills by leaps and bounds without the time required for studying the hows and whys of traditional articles.
Step 1 Choose a Subject
For your first ten list articles, stay close to subjects you know. If you know all there is about customer service, stick with that topic. If you are a natural beauty expert, use your knowledge to plan your first set of list articles. Homemaker, unemployed, teacher, or pharmacist: it doesn’t matter where your expertise lies. What matters is how you use it.
The reason why you will be sticking to something close to home is because those are the easiest list articles you will ever write. So, if you are a homemaker, think about all the knowledge you already have. It can include subjects such as casserole dinners, how to buy at flea markets, or how to organize closets.
Create a list of things you know about, things that interest you, and things that make your blood boil. You might also want to jot down some subjects to research in the future and things you know nothing about, but would like to spend time learning.
Step 2 Break Subjects Into Topics
From a simple list of 20 subjects, you can break each subject down into at least 10 different topics, even the subjects you know next to nothing about. These topics will be what you will be writing about.
Looking at my list of “what I know,” I can pick wood carving and come up with: wood carving tools, easy wood carving projects, and wood for wood carving. All of these topics would make great list articles.
In my “interests,” I have ancient Egypt listed. I absolutely love reading books on ancient Egypt and can readily come up with topics. For example, I have read a lot about the Great Sphinx and I know writing an article on it would quickly turn into a book. I also know that there is oodles of controversy surrounding the origin of the Great Sphinx, so I would choose origins of the Great Sphinx for my topic idea.
In my list of things that make my blood boil, I’ve already whittled down my subject into a particular topic. You can break them down further to get more buck for your brain power. Littering could be broken down into preventing people from littering, organizing pick-up parties, and the effects of cigarette butts on the environment.
Future ideas are things you know little or nothing about, but you can still come up with titles for the list by asking questions you would like answered. For medieval Japan, I would ask what was daily life like for Japanese warriors? What went on in the Emperor’s palace? Were there any women of interest during this time? All of these questions have the possibility to be turned into an article.
Write down every idea you come up with. Your list is your best friend and can generate more ideas as you go along, ensuring that you will never run out of ideas of what to write about.
Step 3 Choose a Title
You now have a list of topic phrases. Now you are ready to begin constructing your titles. This is one of my favorite parts because titles are not only fun to write, but there are numerous ways to construction a list article title.
First, always plan to have a list number of 10. You may actually only come up with 9 subtopics for your list or your list might wind up reaching 20 subtopics. It doesn’t matter at this point in the process. Use 10 as a filler number.
Use the title templates I provide below to begin work on your title. Note that all of the titles can be altered in any fashion you see fit. You can change up the adjectives, nouns, and switch the wording around entirely to get a uniquely original title for the list you plan on writing.
List Title Templates
- [Number] Ways to [Something]
- [Number] Basic Steps to [Do Something]
- [Number] Reasons Why You Should [Do Something] Today
- [Number] Tricks to [Something]
- [Number] Wrong Ways to [Do Something]
- [Number] Things to Remember When You [Do Something]
- [Number] Differences Between [Something] and [Something]
- [Number] Common Mistakes [Person] Make
- [Number] [Something] Every [Person] Should Have
- [Number] Smart Alternatives to [Something]
- [Number] Days to [Something]
- [Number] Creative Ways to [Do Something]
- [Number] [Great] Resources to Help You [Do Something]
- [Number] [Something] Ideas You Can Use Right Now
- [Number] Incredible Facts About [Something]
- [Number] Amazing Benefits of [Something]
- [Number] Signs You Might Be [Something]
- [Number] Rules for [Something]
- Top [Number] Strategies to [Do Something]
Using Title Templates
The title templates are meant to give you a basic idea as to how to write your title. Make the changes you feel are necessary to the title. Once your title is written, you will know exactly what you will be writing about.
- 10 Controversial Beliefs About the Great Sphinx
- 10 Basic Steps to Carving a Green Man
- 10 Wrong Ways to Take Multivitamins
- 10 Ways to Organize a Neighborhood Cleanup Party
- 10 Best Woods for Wood Carving
Step 4 Choose Subtopics
After you have chosen a title, it is time to break your article down into sections. You will plan for an introduction (to be written last), and at least ten sections. Why ten? Because you want to reach a word count of at least 1,000 words for your article. Articles with a higher word count get better ratings on Google than short, 500 word articles. With a plan of writing at least 100 words per numbered section plus at least 100 words for the introduction, you should be able to hit over 1,000 words on your article.
Type your chosen title at the top of your document. Beneath that, write “Introduction” and numbers 1-10. Begin breaking your topic down into subtopics. If you are drawing a blank on what to choose for subtopics, do a search for articles covering the same or similar topic as yours. Study how they have the topic broken down for ideas only. Don’t copy other people’s subtopics word-for-word. Create your own wording and structure.
Step 5 Research
The research aspect for a list article can be as easy or as difficult as you choose. Generally, you will cover one to three facts per section. Gather your facts for each subtopic and jot them down.
Step 6 Write the Body
After you have your notes finished, it is time to write the body of the article. Remember, you are aiming for at least 100 words per section. You will find that there may be a short section (see above section) or two for each article, but if you strive to compensate for the shorter section(s), you will still meet or exceed the 1,000 word count goal.
For one site that I am paid to write for, the editor has made it clear to us that the introduction must be at least 200 words and each subtopic must be at least 100 words. With the required 15 subtopics, my articles for that website are, at minimum, 1700 words. That’s a lot of words, but by breaking the article down into sections with defined word counts, the writing happens faster and easier.
HubPages doesn’t require such strict word counts, but it is best to impose them on yourself now, especially if you want a good ranking in Google and if you want to prepare yourself for contracted writing jobs.
Step 7 Write the Introduction
Why are you writing the introduction last? Better yet, how can you write the introduction first when you don’t know what you are introducing? The introduction introduces the reader to your article. It is a brief summary of what the reader will be learning about.
Many writers struggle with writing an introduction simply because they are trying to write it before writing the body of the article. Save writing your introduction for last. By doing this, you will have already written your article's body and know precisely what content and facts you are introducing.
Exceptions to the Rules
As with everything else in life, there are exceptions to the rules of writing list articles. This article was originally a how-to article. I broke it down into a list article to show readers how a list article can be laid out in HubPages. By doing this, I changed up the format that I normally use when writing list articles for HubPages. I broke the article down into 7 steps, but I have 10 sections (subtopics) plus an introduction. I have also well exceeded the 1,000 word count goal, in spite of having two short subtopics. There are plenty of other rules and styles you will break and make. List articles are versatile like that, and it is just another reason why you should start writing them.