Law Blog Post Formats: Lawsticles, Lists About the Law
The second in a series about useful law blog post formats.
A list article is a great way to punch out a quickie law blog post.
Lists are easy to write and easy to read. Lists have a built-in organizational structure. And they’re perfect for skimming readers, freeing them to scroll quickly down the screen, taking in as much or as little as they desire.
Most importantly, lists provide real value. A good list article distills the blogger’s impressions about complex subject matter. A list article positions the author as a trusted advisor who can separate the important from the trivial, connect the dots, and draw meaning from the river of daily news.
Lists can look back: Top 10 Municipal Law Developments of 2016
Lists can look ahead: What Employers Can Expect in the 2016
Lists can dispense advice: The 10 Biggest Mistakes Physicians Make When Selling a Medical Practice
A list article (“lawsticle” anyone?) should be formatted with a numbered subheading for each list item. If the title of the lawsticle is “Top 10 Eminent Domain Rulings in 2016,” then the reader will expect to see a numbered list of 10 rulings.
Extra credit if the subheading contains a present-tense verb and summarizes the subject matter. For example, “3. SEC Cracks Down On Anti-Whistleblower Severance Agreements” is vastly superior to “3. Whistleblowers.”
This post from Fisher Phillips shows a well-made list article:
The firm’s use of numbered subheads gives the article a readily apparent structure. Verbs give the subheads some snap. Good use of white space too, a professional look all around.
For comparison, here’s a post from Jackson Lewis, part of a regular “Top Five” series from this firm.
There’s a lot of good information in the Jackson Lewis post, though readability could have been improved with subheadings and less-dense presentation.
Assessing the List Article
Pros: List articles work well for both consumer and professional readers. They pack a lot of information into a short space. They’re useful and memorable. When properly formatted, they look good on mobile devices.
Cons: None that I can see.
For more on the appeal of lists from a psychological standpoint, read Maria Konnikova’s A List of Reasons Why Our Brains Love Lists (The New Yorker, Dec. 2, 2013).