How To Write List Articles
Every Editor Will Love

Copyright Beth Morrow  
- All Rights Reserved


Outlining, drafting, revising…markets, queries and clips. The process of creating an article for publication is a long one, subject to as many changes as the day has minutes. Regardless of how you get those ideas onto paper, one perpetual gate keeper holds the key to your seeing your work and byline: the editor.

Ask ten editors what they’re looking for in a list article and you’ll get ten very different responses based on the readerships they serve. While their topics needs are specific to their audience, the elements of a successful list article bridge publications. Read on to discover three valuable secrets to help get your list articles into print from the editors themselves.

  1. Fresh, new spins on old standbys.

Editors are eternally in search of a new angle on an old yet reader-favorite topic. “An excellent list article gives a new twist to a common theme,” says Gregory Kompes, editor of the writing ezine at “The list expands the possibilities for that idea, yet stays on one basic concept.” C. Hope Clark, editor of several writing newsletters at, agrees. “What separates an excellent list article from an average one is that the list is unusual to begin with. When these items are aha! items that have not been done a million times, it makes for an interesting read.” Clark also adds that “Novelty is important. [Good writers] deliver a list with attitude, humor and a strong voice to make age-old, sage advice sound fresh.”

  1. Tailor the length, tone, verbiage and purpose of your article to reflect the publication.

Beth Erickson, editor of the freelancer-focused Writing, Etc. at notes, “An excellent list article targets our audience. I know, standard advice. But the majority of queries do not fit this agenda. If you even remotely research the audience a publication caters to, you’ll fly far ahead of any competition you may face.” According to Cheryl Wright, editor of the ezine, “One reason for rejecting articles is that the writer doesn’t understand the subject matter covered by my ezine.” Remember: editors are filters for the reader. Please them and you’ll please the audience.

  1. Be the professional writer they won’t forget.

 “I genuinely appreciate professionalism. I love enthusiasm. Send me a professional, enthusiastic writer who knows my audience and you’ll find a very happy editor.” shares Erickson.

Monica Poling, editor of the Writing Sparks newsletter from, mirrors Erickson’s sentiment. “I automatically delete email without the sender’s name in the body of the email. If the writer doesn’t realize they’re sending a business letter when querying me I can’t be sure they understand other business practices.”

Regardless of the audience they serve, editors want to work with writers who give the readers what they’ve come to expect. “Make an editor’s life easier,” says Beth Erickson, “and you’ll have a good shot at a long-term working relationship.”


About the author: Beth Morrow is a freelance writer who lives for writing—and reading—list articles. Currently at work on final edits for a business book, she hosts a daily blog for writers at Visit her on the web at:


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