The Effectiveness of Odd Numbers of Bullet Items


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A colleague commented that people appear to better absorb and remember lists when they are in groups of odd numbers (as opposed to even numbers). This includes bulleted PowerPoint slides, verbalized lists, and lists developed on whiteboards and other media.

I’ve noted, personally, that there appears to be a “power of three” effect – that people remember lists of three items very well. Conversely, we certainly know that a list of 10 words is very tough to remember…!

As a self-test, it would be interesting to read and compare/contrast your own marketing literature’s bulleted lists of features/benefits with that of your competition or related third parties…

Does anyone have feedback, comments or data regarding the effectiveness of remembering odd-numbered lists vs. even?

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Peter Cohan
Have you ever seen a bad software demonstration? Peter Cohan is the founder and principal of Great Demo!, focused on helping software organizations improve the success rates of their demos. He authored Great Demo! - how to prepare and deliver surprisingly compelling software demonstrations. Peter has experience as an individual contributor, manager and senior management in marketing, sales, and business development. He has also been, and continues to be, a customer.


  1. I think there may be something in this. It is more visually appealing and therefore more likely to stick.

    When presenting food on a plate one recommends odd numbers, not even to (in terms of layout)

    However I have to say that there is something more obvious in the example used. Hands up if it’s easier to remember 3 things or 10 things….?!!

    Whether or not 5 things are in some way easier to remember than 4 would be interesting to know though…


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