A style guide for writing on Medium

Quincy Larson
Oct 17, 2016 · 8 min read

Headlines

These are the most important part of your story, and you should put some serious thought into them.

Images

Medium offers four different image widths. Note that these will all look the same on mobile.

  1. It will look better in Medium’s own news feeds.
  2. Humans are visual creatures, and click on images.

Attribution

Technically as a writer, you are liable for copyright infringement, and Medium is not. The simplest way to attribute an image is to put the words “Image credit” below an image, and link this text to its original source.

A Google image search query with the “Labeled for reuse” option selected.

“When you have wit of your own, it’s a pleasure to credit other people for theirs.”
Criss Jami

Note that you should not use pull quotes under any other circumstances, as they make the text harder to read. Resist the temptation to use pull quotes to quote your own story, or to tease something you’re about to say anyway. This is self-aggrandizing and wastes your readers’ time.

Code

Where possible, code should be in text form rather than images. This makes the code more accessible to screen readers, and easier for people to copy and paste. Here’s how you can do this:

Links

Figure out a way to work a link into a sentence. If a link is vital to a story, put it on its own line and press enter. This will create a preview card, like this:

Embedding media

You can embed Tweets, YouTube videos, and other media by pasting their URLs into Medium on a new line, then pressing enter.

Acronyms

Don’t use an acronym unless the acronym is more widely understood than what it stands for. For example, HTTP is more widely recognized than Hypertext Transfer Protocol.

Text Formatting

You can use bold or italic — never both — to place emphasis on a few words. These slow the reader down, and should be used sparingly. Don’t use bold or italic on links. These already stand out due to the underline.

Some old-school-cool print dropcaps
  • Use “that is” instead of “I.E.”
  • Use “note that” instead of “N.B.”
  • Instead of ending lists with “etc.” start them with “like”: “Elvis ate food like bread, peanut butter, and bananas.”

Style

Use the Hemingway App. There’s nothing magical about this simple tool, but it will automatically detect widely agreed-upon style issues:

  • unnecessary adverbs
  • words that have more common equivalents

Final advice

Remember that when you publish on Medium, you’re asking thousands of people to give you several minutes of their lives. Don’t take your readers for granted.

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Quincy Larson

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Teacher at https://freeCodeCamp.org

freeCodeCamp.org

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