Read Now >" />

How to Create an Effective Weighted Pro-Con List

Pro-con lists are a quick and easy way to analyze a decision. But pro-con lists can be misleading—not all pros and cons have equal importance. Enter the weighted pro-con list.

Weighted pro-con lists enable you to indicate how relevant a pro or con is to your decision, by specifying a number to indicate a factor’s importance. The higher the number, the greater the factor’s importance.

For instance, if deciding whether to buy time tracking software instead of continuing to track time using printed timesheets, you might create the following:

Weight Factor Factor Weight
3 More accurate time tracking Costs money 4
4 Faster report generation Requires a laptop or tablet 3
5 Adds client and project reports Requires employees to change behavior 3
3 Reduced data entry errors
15 10

Instead of counting the number of pros and cons, add up the weights associated with your pro and con columns. If your pro total exceeds your con total, go forward with the decision.

Alternatively, you can subtract your con total from your pro total to create a score for your decision. In the above example, the score would be 15 – 10 = 5.

Positive scores point toward yes decisions, while negative scores point toward no decisions.

Best Practices

Use these tips to improve your weighted pro-con lists:

  • Limit Your Scale
    Use a scale that gives you the levels of importance you need, but no more. A scale from 1-5 works well. Use scales from 1-10 or higher sparingly and avoid using fractions. Don’t aim to be precise. You’re assigning weights subjectively anyway. An ideal scale forces you to think whether a factor should be a 4 or a 5, rather than giving you an easy halfway point that allows you to dodge the deeper thinking.
  • Brainstorm First, Assign Weights Second
    Avoid assigning weights while you are listing your pros and cons. Your weights will be more accurate when you have the entire picture of all your pros and cons laid out. And switching from brainstorming to weighting and back makes you less effective than sticking in brainstorming mode until you’re done.
  • Assign Highest & Lowest Weights First
    Mark all the pros and cons that are 5’s first, then mark all your 1’s. Then mark all your 4’s in one go, 3’s in one go and 2’s in one go. By assigning weights one level at a time, you can compare all the factors at that level to see if some should be bumped up or down a level. Ideally all the factors with the same weight should hold the same level of importance to your decision. Mark your highest and lowest weights first, since these are often the easiest to mark off, giving you fewer you need to review for the middle numbers.
  • Ask Why
    Pro-con lists are about the process as much as the result. Ask yourself why you are assigning the ratings you do. Use pro-con lists as a framework for thinking about your decision, not just a scoring tool.

Of course, that’s just the beginning. On Thursday, we’ll dive more into how you can improve your weighting systems when rating factors in pro-con lists and other decision tools. Stay tuned, and if you haven’t subscribed yet to get twice weekly updates, you can do it here.

Credits: The photo used in this article was taken by Chris Potter.


  1. […] a pros and cons list. This is a quick and easy way to analyse a decision.  You can even create a weighted pros and cons list to indicate the importance of each factor in the list. Just as recruiters have set criteria for the […]

  2. […] deciding on a position or company, make a list of pros and cons. On the left side of the paper is your pros list, where you write down every thing you like about […]

  3. […] add up the points on each side and work on that basis. As some things that you write down may have a lot more weight than the others. You can even get flow charts and table from the internet to help you do this. In […]

  4. […] break out your old scales. We are about to weigh the pros and cons of selling your Software as a […]

  5. […] will need to weigh up the pros and cons of each new technology, as buying the wrong ones will not save you money, but buying the right ones […]

  6. […] people take a pragmatic approach to making difficult decisions. Weighing up the pros and cons of each decision is important. For instance, when deciding to take a new job or not, people weigh up the benefits, […]

  7. […] will need to weigh up the pros and cons of each new technology, as buying the wrong ones will not save you money, but buying the right […]

  8. […] through the weighted pro-con list will help you put data and numbers behind your gut […]

  9. […] growth. When you’re presented with new opportunities, you can use your options as a way to weigh the pros and cons of each possibility. This helps you to make better decisions because you’re not just looking […]

  10. […] While Medicare is not mandatory, you might find that life could be much more difficult without it, so be sure to weigh up the pros and cons. […]

  11. […] you’ve written down a list of pros and cons, assign a weight to each factor based on its importance to you (on a scale of 1 to 5). Create a separate column for […]

Leave a Reply to 3 Simple Ways To Save Money On Your Construction Project – NR Steel Alliance Cancel reply


Want to improve your decisions around time management? Day Optimizer could help.Learn More >