Top 10 tips RIP?

In the world of print, certain numbers have magical powers. We'd read an articles that promises "101 great summer fashion ideas" but be less enchanted by a piece headed "17 ways to de-clutter your life". We'd go for "Top 10 ways to be a greater lover" but perhaps be less swayed by "3 ways to add more oomph to your love life".

 Top 10 tips RIP?

Magazines and newspapers have trained us to like things that come in numbers like 7, 10, 12, 25, 100, and to turn our noses up at things that come in, say, 8s, 13s, 27s or 122s. Sometimes, however, as any honest magazine journalist would admit, the search for a nice number can get in the way of the value of the content.

We've all had that feeling of looking at a Top 10 feature and realising that the writer has really scraped the barrel to hit the target. Tip 3 is suspiciously similar to tip 9, for instance, tips 5 and 6 are really 1 tip split in two, and on closer inspection tip 7 is not really a tip at all. 

Online, where we don't have double-page spreads to fill, web pages ought to be only to be as long as they need to be. Which is why there's now a school of thought that says top tips articles should never come in 10s but in all those random numbers your magazine editor would despise. In short, the fact that you have just 8 top tips about how to attract wildlife into your garden, or precisely 13 steps to a successful social media strategy, is itself a badge of the authentic value of your content. Look, mum: no artificial rounding up.