3 Reasons Why a Blog Post with a Number in the Title is Not Always Satisfying

Flower from stocksnap textBlog posts with a number in the title are more frequently read than others.  It’s true, I am more likely to click on 5 Reasons to Pray than on Reasons to Pray.  (Note: The titles in this post are all random and off the top of my head, so my apologies to anyone who ever wrote actual posts under those headlines.)

A number sets my expectations for the length of the article. If I’m in a hurry, I’m far more likely to click on 4 Ways to Improve your Relationships than on 45 Ways to Improve your Spiritual Life.  A writer may also use a number as way to help organize his or her thoughts. It puts a nice boundary around potentially expansive subject matter.

A good title is very important; I know that, and sadly I’m a little title-challenged.  I should probably start paying more attention to them, and using a number in the title once in a while wouldn’t hurt.

There are many excellent blog posts, and through them I’ve both learned a lot and been mightily inspired.  Thank you, bloggers and writers. However, I have noticed that posts with numbers in the title often leave me feeling a little disappointed.  So, as my title specified, here are 3 reasons why numbers in the title can be a little unsatisfying:

1) Nothing New

The clear title that promised me 6 Truths that Will Change Your Life didn’t offer anything new.  It was just a clever title.  This isn’t always true, but many times I have clicked, scanned the points, and realized that it was all old news.  One advantage of the number in the title is it is easy to quickly decide whether or not to keep reading.

2) Too Much Information

Sometimes the information is new and helpful, but there is just too much of it.  In spite of accurate labeling, it may be that the 10 or 12 points would be better handled in shorter form or in two posts. My eyes start to glaze over when I read a long explanation of point 5 in an advertised 7 point post. This is true whether or not there is a number in the title, but that number has set my expectation.  I hate to admit it, but it is simply a fact that as we do more of our reading online we expect concise articles.

3) Padded to make a decent number of points

Surely there are more than two reasons that posts with number in the title are a little unsatisfying.  Two reasons just seems lame. Hmmm…I wonder how many writers use similar logic and end up padding their articles.

There is nothing wrong with using a number in the title, and in fact it can be helpful if the article is clear, concise and offers fresh analysis or a new thought.

Why do you think articles with numbers in the title are more enticing to readers than others?  How do you come up with your titles?




6 thoughts on “3 Reasons Why a Blog Post with a Number in the Title is Not Always Satisfying

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  1. Uhhh. I guess I’m not sucked into titles with numbers. If fact, after years of blogging, I don’t think I have any numbers in my title. Maybe I need to do 1 or 2 just to keep folks reading. HA

    1. No numbers! I title with them every once in a while. Hopefully our content is good either way! Thanks for the comment Karen!

  2. Ah, the number “7” is one of the most highly prized numbers used in titles, as Steven Covey has demonstrated over and over again with his top selling books. Thus, you need four more reasons in the above post. Then, look out gal, the world will be your oyster.

    I believe that a great title is 75% of the writing project. Mine just seem to drop out of the atmosphere, surrounding me at the time. So, maybe my excuse for bad titles is due to global warming and a lack of oxygen.

  3. LIvestrong (the fitness site) has a lot of numbers in its post titles; I’ll be sucked into reading “8 foods to avoid for belly fat loss” or “13 NEW ab exercises” or “5 exercises women do wrong.” But I’m always irritated because so many require multiple clicks through a slide show of photos and there’s no way to quickly jump to, say, exercise 3 or food #8. Yet I still do it . . . I think the numbering makes reading the post (and coming to the end of it) feel like an accomplishment. Say, in the case of the 5 exercises post, I feel smug that I’m doing 4 out of 5 correctly, or I avoid 5 out of 8 of those foods or whatever. Or, in one of the examples you mentioned, if I already know 5 of the truths, I feel that I must be getting somewhere in my walk with God. Of course, that’s not true, is it?!

    Titles are one of the hardest parts of blogging for me. Most of the time I write one, change it, change it again, throw up my hands and say, “Whatever!” And hit publish. 🙂

    1. Good point – we like that feeling of accomplishment or of meeting most of some random person’s idea of exercises or foods to avoid. And I’m totally with you when it comes to titles – changing a title several times and finally saying “Whatever!” Yep – you nailed it! Thanks for your comment, Laura.

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