16 tricks to turn your Medium drafts into beautiful looking stories

A mini-guide to formatting your writing

The Startup
May 21 · 6 min read

Formatting tricks will never cover up poor writing. But poor formatting can ruin the reading experience no matter how good the writing is.

We’ve brought together 16 formatting tips to up your Medium game.

Formatting the above-the-fold section: titles, subtitles, hero image.

1. Couple your “title” with a “subtitle”

In the most cluttered marketplace in history, grabbing the attention of your readers begins even before they land on your story — think of platforms where people discover your post in the first place.

On social media newsfeeds or search engine result pages, your stories will appear only as a tiny preview: title, subtitle, and a thumbnail image.

And your subtitle, together with your main title, will heavily impact your story’s CTRs within those few minutes where people decide whether to click through or not.

IMPORTANT: You won’t initially see the subtitle formatting option when you start typing your draft on Medium’s editor. To find the subtitle format, you need to 1) type your main title 2) hit enter to move onto typing the next line 3) when done, select the entire line and click on the small “T” among the formatting options. Watch the gif tutorial below to see it in action.

2. Use a “kicker” to get more creative

Medium editor offers another handy formatting option to further beautify the above-the-fold part of your story: a kicker.

As the subtitle, finding the kicker option isn’t immediate. You need to 1) type your main title and subtitle 2) bring the cursor right before the first letter of the main title 3) hit enter to move both to the next line 4) start typing on the line above 5) select the whole line 6) click on the small “T” on formatting options. Watch the gif tutorial below to see it in action.

3. Customize title/subtitle for SEO

You can also decide not to use any subtitle on your Medium story and still have one appear on the previews of your story outside Medium, i.e., on social media newsfeeds or search results.

To do this 1) click on the “…” on the top right 2) select “Change display title/subtitle” and 3) type the subtitle you want to appear on social media.

Important: for search engine result pages, you also need to fill out the “description” section as it is used in place of your subtitle on search engine results pages. Watch the gif tutorial below to see it in action.

4. Drag your hero visual to find where it fits best

The imagery at the top of your story is also important to grab your reader’s attention. Make them small, medium or big — but remember you can also drag them above your title section.

5. Add a touch of your own brand

See the coffee mug separator right above with the green lines on both sides? It’s a touch from our The Startup publication logo. You can add visual elements that will build brand equity and familiarity across all your Medium stories.

Take one of our writers, Darius Foroux. He uses a consistent drawing style for hero images across all of his blog posts.

To build such design assets, you can use Photoshop, IPAD’s drawing apps or free software such as Canva, Piktochart, The Noun Project, Pablo.

6. Use a grid to display imagery in a beautiful way

Upload multiple images at the same time and you have a beautiful grid.

Remember you can also:

7. Link images (e.g., to your Instagram, website)

Click on an image in your Medium draft and then press Ctrl+K or ⌘+K to insert/paste your link URL.

8. Optimize your images for a faster loading Medium story

You can use a free website like www.compressor.io or https://tinyjpg.com/(if JPEG) and https://tinypng.com (if PNG).

9. Use free stock images

Websites like Unsplash, Pexels, Burst, The Stocks, Pixabay.

10. Make use of “drop caps” & “quotes”

Drop caps is a styling technique that makes the font size of the first letter of a paragraph significantly larger — compared to the remaining letters.

Medium’s drop caps are beautiful and this technique can help turn what would otherwise be an overwhelming amount of text into a beautiful reading experience.

Same goes for using quotes. You can use different quote styles by hitting the quote icon multiple times.

11. Customize your story link

You can also control what URL will show up on your readers’ browsers.

Click first on the “…” icon at the top right and then on the “Customize story link”. Select the “Custom” and insert the URL you prefer.

12. Don’t lose your readers’ trust just to get a few more claps

There was a time when asking for claps was a thing. It used to help educate new Medium users on how to show appreciation for authors. It also enabled those authors to reach a bigger audience as the claps spread.

Over time, however, too many people started asking for claps and it turned into “clap fatigue” — resulting in users reporting abuse to Medium’s customer support.

Asking for claps is now also against Medium’s Content Guidelines and stories that ask for claps don’t get curated across Medium.

Other little-known tricks

13. Use Medium keyboard shortcuts

Press Ctrl+? or ⌘+? while editing your draft to see the list of keyboard shortcuts.

14. See word count

Select the entire story (Ctrl+A or ⌘+A) or any section to see the word count at the top of the page.

15. Use code blocks

You can include inline code blocks in your story by putting text between backticks. To include a separate code block or snippet, type three backticks into the editor.

16. Mention @ people & embed videos, social media posts, other Medium stories

  • Type @ and then the name of the person you want to mention. Mentioning someone will link to their profile and send them a notification when you publish.
  • You can embed a tweet or almost whatever you want in your story by pasting in its link and pressing Enter.

Hope these tips will be helpful. Thanks for reading.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +524K people. Follow to join our community.

The Startup

Written by

Editors of The Startup (https://medium.com/swlh) — a publication by GrowthSupply.com

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +524K people. Follow to join our community.

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