7 best numbers for web lists

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  • 10 is the classic – amazingly flexible, it ends in zero, and is the smallest round number;
  • “Dozen” is 10 for non-geeks. If you skip 6 and 7 you still only need 10 actual items;
  • 2 is the minimum you can have and still have a list:
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  • 100 doesn’t seem like as many as it is. Tests at Yale* show most people act like a list of 100 items is shorter than a list of 37. Plus, you only need to fill the first and last ten, because nobody really reads these unless they’re lists of books. If it’s a list of fonts, just make stuff up. Nobody knows if Hoosier Phat is a font or not. If it’s a book list, fill up the middle with stuff by Dostefeski and Mark Twine. Just make up the titles, nobody’s going to read number 37. If someone does notice (“5 lame book lists…” Hey, that’s me at number 2!), you’ll get more links, and you can make up another list out of it: “3 lame things not to do with a book list: 1) Make stuff up.
  • Speaking of 3, it’s often a good choice. I usually avoid list posts, but will read a 3 once in a while.
  • 5 is the best all round number to use for lists if you can’t get to ten. It’s prime, but at the same time half of ten, so it’s half-round. It’s neither too big nor too small. As with 10/dozen, deploy the “half-dozen” only for non-geek content. “A half-dozen platonic solids” will confuse and antagonize your readers.
  • 4 is lame. Four? Seriously?
  • 0 is the empty list. It’s rarely suitable, but included here for completeness.

* Yale because I’m tired of beating up on Harvard

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