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An Ode to Lists

And how to publish your very own on Medium

My annual spring cleaning came late this year, no doubt a consequence of emerging from what feels like a collective pandemic-induced slumber. But I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten past the inertia of tackling certain long neglected domestic projects: decluttering my closet, organizing haphazardly strewn books, and finally getting around to painting my retro green kitchen to a more aesthetically soothing sage green.

Maybe you subscribe to certain life hacks or systems that help you organize your life — Marie Kondo’s, “but does it spark joy?” philosophy, for instance. I’ve personally found the most effective approach to tactically get stuff done means returning back to basics. Behold, the power of The List!

Creating lists, and sorting them by theme and topic, has helped me break down my to-dos into its component parts to help make any task at hand appear far less daunting, more manageable, even insightful. (Of course there’s also the pure relish that comes with crossing off your to-dos, one by one.)

Lists, in short, are an awesome way to organize and declutter your thoughts or to signal what is important to you — to make sense of connections, associations, and great ideas. Which is why I’ve been super excited to experiment with the beta lists feature that enables anyone on Medium to organize their very own collection of stories.

With lists you can curate stories and provide commentary on your selections: from recommended reads within your topic or area of expertise, personal favorites, to themed lists around stories that inspire you. Your lists will appear under the list tab on your profile.

Here’s how to get started with lists

Medium’s group product manager Jacqueline Yue wrote a helpful 3 Min Read explainer, which walks you through the beta lists feature, step-by-step:

The beauty and function of lists is also in the eye of the list-maker, so I’ve taken the liberty of showcasing a few of my favorite lists and their use cases that I’ve spotted from writers and editors across the Medium community.

Lists are a useful way to showcase your portfolio of work and expertise

I’ve noticed many writers pinning an index, or table of contents, to the top of their profile, to showcase their interests and expertise. Now, you can easily create lists to help others explore collections of your work. For example, writer and editor Stephen Moore, curated separate lists for stories he wrote for publications, Marker and Forge:

Marker Column: Trend Mill — An ongoing series diving into business, branding, and marketing trends

Forge Collection: My work published on Forge, covering ideas, creativity and more

A portfolio doesn’t always need to feature work with your byline. It can also spotlight pieces you’ve helped shepherd to life as an editor, art director, designer, etc. Creativity, after all, is often a collective endeavor or team sport. Here’s a curated list of pieces I enjoyed help bringing to life: Featured articles from Medium’s #StopAsianHate blog

Editor’s pro tip: try and create a meta-narrative when creating your list so that readers can scan the list and better understand the broader topic.

Writer and director, and all around creative, Julio Vincent Gambuto curated a list based on his own experience: For Freelancers: A quick collection of my series “Friday Freelancing,” which offers tips and advice for freelancers and independent contractors of all kinds.

Lists are a great tool to surface trends, the greatest hits, or “best of” type of stories

Lists help validate why an idea is actually part of a greater trend; they also contextualize why something is important. For example, brand strategist Tabarak Khan curated stories that highlight how we thrive on and fight capitalism at the same time in her list, It’s Not You, It’s Capitalism.

If you’re an avid reader, you might gravitate towards book lists curated by your favorite bloggers or respected book critics to help you make informed decisions about your next selection. Medium’s director of author venture Sarah Begley shared a list of nonfiction authors who have published excerpts on Medium and have won awards for their work.

When organized by larger themes, lists can serve as a mood board to inspire and spark more creativity

Health and science editor Kate Green Tripp does a great job of creating themed lists that cover everything from Love & Wisdom to Weird Science, Tech Takeover, and Human Patterns.

Author and creator Tiffany Jana curated a list about areas in their wheelhouse: Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (JEDI). “Justice, antiracism and allyship, like love, are action words,” Jana says.

Sometimes we just want a place to feature our longstanding favorite, bookmarked reads to share with others

There are so many gems on Medium, and many of us frequently rely on the popular ‘bookmark’ feature to save and archive our favorite reads:

Faves: A few of my favorite Medium posts, Harris Sockel
Favorites on Writing, Arwyn Clark
My Medium faves: A very incomplete list, Matthew Savener

Why not create a list of your favorite reads to share with followers, friends, and loved ones? Now, thanks to lists, you have the option to share your very own editor’s picks.

Got any questions? Visit Medium’s Help Center for more on lists.

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Creators Hub is the official resource for writing on Medium. You’ll find advice for succeeding on Medium, spotlights on thinkers across the platform, and inside secrets from fellow creators. We’re here to help you write better, post smarter, and connect with more readers.

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Gloria Oh

Gloria Oh

Senior Editor, Medium. Founding Editor of Index. Previously, The Atlantic.

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