This method is often used in teaching, marketing, management, self-help books, for example:

The 4 T's of success, the 3 D's of determination, etc.

What is this process/method called?

  • That's a good question, but I don't think it has an answer. What makes you think there's a dedicated term for this kind of thing? How do you plan on using it?
    – RegDwigнt
    Sep 6, 2018 at 14:27
  • Thank you, I work in media and marketing, and we often have to create such content for our clients. I was curious to know what it was called so I can learn more about the methodology (if any) and other similar approaches I can use.
    – Syd
    Sep 7, 2018 at 9:20

1 Answer 1


Tyler Schnoebelen in an article entitled The 3 R’s and 5 W’s of the 4 P’s on Corpus Linguistics suggests that these turns of phrase which are alliterative lists are numeric mnemonics.

Lists are a form of semi-structured data. They can be immensely useful in Natural Language Processing. People will often group related items in lists, especially so if they are using alliteration to tie list elements together.

I’ll call alliterative lists like “The 4 P’s” numeric mnemonics since they package information for easier retention and recall.

The article goes on to provide

an overview of the most popular numeric mnemonics since 1800 ... from the Google Books Ngram Corpus, pulling out all occurrences of “the {number} {letter}’s”.

The counts we’ll be using are not total occurrences of the patterns but distinct books that mention use the construction. I’m going to collapse digits and spelled-out numerals (“3” and “three”), but just so you know, there are about 12 times as many of the spelled-out numbers as digits.

The most popular are

The 3 R’s: Mostly Reading, (w)Riting and (a)Rithmetic; but also Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and sometimes Respect, Responsibility, and Results (or Rules); Relief, Recovery and Reform; Revenue, cost Reduction, Regulations; and Brazil’s soccer stars Ronaldo, Rivaldo, and Ronaldinho

Numeric mnemonics is used for want of a better name, as it may be confused with the mnemonic major system which

works by converting numbers into consonant sounds, then into words by adding vowels.

  • 1
    Thank you, this is very helpful and a good starting point!
    – Syd
    Sep 7, 2018 at 9:24

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