Two Reasons Numbers Still Work in Titles

By Michael Stelzner

As I have mentioned before, numbers work for titles.

What better way to start my return from vacation than to reference, borrow and steal from Brian Clark.

Brian recently wrote about the wisdom of lists by simply visiting the newsstand.

Here is what he found:

  1. The 25 Greatest Science Books of All Time – Discover
  2. 50 Ways to Cut Your Health-Care Costs – Money
  3. 50+ Essential Hardware Tips – PC World
  4. 56 Ways to Expand Small Spaces – Remodeling and Makeovers
  5. 125 Glorious Gifts: Vogue’s Ultimate Holiday Guide – Vogue

So, reason number one to use numbers in titles is because they work, as evidenced by their continual use in traditional print publications.

Reason number two: I thought I would leave this one up to you. Please share your thoughts about why numbers work in titles?

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  • Nathan Gilliatt

    I think numbers work in titles because they identify list articles. Lists are easy to read quickly, and if point #14 doesn’t do anything for you, you can move right to point #15. It’s not so much the title that works as a general acceptance (or even a preference?) for lists over text-heavy articles.

  • Michael Stelzner

    Hey Nathan!

    Good point.

    Lists provide a idea of what can be expected BEFORE someone reads the post/article/white paper, etc.


  • Mario Vellandi

    Numbered lists are eye catching, and when used as headlines the content seems authoritative no matter if we know the author/publisher or not. Even if we’re skeptical of the content’s quality or if it’s a subject matter we’re already quite familiar with, we’re intrigued nonetheless and our curiosity is aroused. Knowing that the format is a list which we can scan & skim, thus reducing our time investment, we’re much greater inclined to check it out.

  • Michael Stelzner

    Mario – Great point about implied authority. – Mike

  • Britton Manasco

    Numbered lists also are a promise. They promise you a certain outcome. You get the “5 most important” or the “10 greatest.” You know what you are going to get before you make the investment of reading — or tuning in. Where would Letterman be without them? Or Stephen Covey? or Dick Clark?

  • Michael Stelzner

    Britton – Excellent points! That tangible list is something people are drawn to. – Mike