How to Place Photos in Medium Posts
This is a tip sheet for those, like me, who have struggled with photo and image placement in Medium. Here are 11 tips to save time and headaches when placing graphics in your Medium stories.
1. For starters, keep track of Medium’s instructions on graphic placement. Here are two articles related to image formatting.
The above photo is gorgeous. I screen-captured this photo from an article on the Gizmodo.com website. To reproduce the picture for this article, I used Techsmith’s SnagIt screen capture software. We have access to the digital world via the Internet, so I highly recommend using SnagIt software.
I saved the above screen-capture on my computer. It was a 120 dpi (dots per inch) resolution and was 996 pixels wide. Medium recommends 1400 pixels for the width of a column wide photo. Therefore, I used Photoshop to enlarge it from 996 to the recommended 1400 pixels in width. When I changed the width of the photo, it easily fit into the width of the top of this article.
2. Organize where you are saving your files on your computer. You probably already do this but you should have each article project in its own separate folder (perhaps under your “Projects” or “Publications” folder).
3. In this project folder, save your research notes, bibliography citations, references, drafts and of course the main text of your article.
4. Name the file for your article in such a way that you know THIS PARTICULAR FILE is the only file you will continually edit until you finally publish it on Medium.
5. Make a separate graphics sub folder in that project folder to hold the photos and illustrations you collect for this writing project.
6. In your graphics folder, follow a strict file naming scheme.
A. If you are using a scanner, scan at the highest resolution (like 600 dpi or the highest resolution possible by your scanning software.) The reason for this is that you want to have the highest quality photo possible. It is easier to drop down the resolution but you cannot go the other way to increase resolution without scanning the photo again. If you don’t have the detail (pixels) in your image, you can’t add it later.
B. Save the files of the highest quality scans with a file name like 01.jpg, 02.jpg, etc. Even if you have only a few photos, make your original photo numbers with two digits. (If you have more than 100 illustrations, start your numbering as 001.jpg, etc.) If you must have some description of the image, retain the same numbering (01.jpg, 02.jpg) but keep the numbering on the front of the file name. For example,
01 picture of antique car.jpg
02 image of Cynthia dressed in 1940’s dress.jpg.
However, you’re better off if you use the software to show you thumbnails of the picture when selecting them. The process is easier if you stick with just the numbers for the file names.
C. This file name numbering scheme is important because it automatically keeps them in order in your project’s graphics folder.
D. The 01.jpg numbering format for the file names also helps you when you edit the photos. You will edit your pictures but you NEVER want to edit your originals which are the highest quality of resolution. Theses are your original and purest versions of the graphics. You will play around with the sizing and resolution of your pictures. You definitely will damage some of your photos and graphics as you edit them. That doesn’t matter as long as you never save your edited files on top of the original numbered graphics.
I’ll reiterate this because it is so important. Let’s say you have ten images for use with your story. Suppose you want to edit (say) the 06.jpg graphic to make it smaller or larger. When you do, save the edited picture as 006.jpg. You might make a mistake as you edit a picture but if you only make an error on ones that have 3 digit names (say 006.jpg) and never touch the original (06.jpg), you’ll always have the original.
7. There are a number of photo editing software programs. Discussion of the alternatives are outside the scope of this article. I happen to use Adobe Photoshop. Whatever graphics editing program you use; you will typically use these three tasks to prepare your photo for use in your Medium article.
A. You will open the photo.
B. You will modify the image size and resolution.
C. You will finally save the edited file as a different name so that you can import it into your Medium story.
If you have Photoshop for editing, your task will be faster and more powerful. Learn these three Photoshop keyboard shortcuts.
A. Open (a file) Ctrl+ O
B. Image size Ctrl + Alt + I
C. Save as Shift + Ctrl +S
8. While images in Medium posts will vary in appearance, whether viewed on web, mobile web, iOS and Android apps, below are general guidelines for image dimensions in posts. If you use too small an image, neither Medium nor any other social network will be able to pull a featured image for a preview.
- Full column-width images: 1400 px wide
- Out-set images: 2040 px wide
- Screen-width images: 2500 px wide
Gaurav Agrawa’s photo (above) was modified to be 1400 dpi and dropped into this page. It took only one size change and it fit the page width perfectly.
There are complex reasons why photos and graphics appear larger and smaller than you expect on a Medium page. These keyboard shortcuts will save you hours when you need to adjust images as you place them on your pages.
9. Typically, we drop our photo either before or after a paragraph of text. In this illustration, I have several images I used in a children’s story. The characters are represented by fingers with faces drawn on them. I am using a few of the photos for this article.
When a photo is placed along with the text of the article, it is often the wrong size. That’s when I pull it into Photoshop.
As soon as the photo is opened in Photoshop, I go to image size screen (Ctrl + Alt + I) and see the size and resolution of the photo. The (red arrow) shows that it was scanned as a 600 dpi graphic.
To change the size and resolution of the photo, I change the 600 dpi resolution to 72 dpi. (see screen shot below) The red arrow shows the change to 72 dpi.
When I make that change, notice that the software proportionally adjusts the width to 168 pixels (see green arrow). The rest of the dimensions of the photo are also automatically scaled.
Saving the edited photo.
As soon as I make this change, I save the modified file to a different name. (Remember the shortcut for Save/As is Shift + Ctrl +S.) If my original file is named 06.jpg, I will save the changed version of the photo file to 006.jpg. This will keep the modified file near the original in the graphics folder, which will make it much easier to locate.
10. Testing how the file looks in Medium.
When I pull that (modified) 006.jpg file into my Medium page, I must determine if it is too large or small. Look at how the graphic appears (below) compared to the width of the text of the paragraph above it.
To make it a little larger, I will try editing the original file and change the resolution from 72 dpi to 144 (red arrow in image below). Notice the width (green arrow) automatically changes to 336 pixels. Again, save this modification to a different file name if the previous modification is too small. You can do this by adding another zero in the front of the new file name (0006.jpg.)
You might have to try a higher resolution (216 dpi, shown by red arrow below).
In your experimentation with the image size, you may need to enlarge it again. Notice (below) what happens when the the resolution is set to 288 dpi (red arrow). The software automatically recalculates the width to 672 pixels (see green arrow).
If most of your photos are approximately the same size, you will only have to experiment with the sizing a few times before you determine the best size. You may have to do this to visually see which size works best. At all times, be sure to have your experimental versions of the photo saved as a different name than the original file. After you’ve made your final edit, do a file\save as (Shift + Ctrl +S) and name the new file size as 003.jpg. This will preserve the original 03.jpg untouched and make a new size file to use in your Medium story.
11. Place the new 003.jpg file in your story and see how the sizing looks. If it is too small or too large, it will be obvious as you look at it in the column of your Medium story.
- Here are how different sizes appear with the text. The red arrow shows the smallest size. The green arrow points to one size larger. The gold arrow indicates the chosen larger size. The final size you choose will be the one that looks best in sizing next to your text. Remember the Full column-width image (1400 px),
- Out-set images (2040 px wide) and Screen-width images (2500 px wide) are for larger pictures. If you have a project that uses smaller images, like this children’s story I’m using for demonstration, your photos can be smaller.
There is a benefit to temporarily inserting a new picture above the previously placed picture. As the above series of graphics illustrate, you can compare the new sizes to previously placed images. But before you delete the previous photo, if you have written a caption below it, copy it and paste it under the final version of the picture. This saves you time because you originally made the effort to determine a caption and credit for the photo.
It turns out, in this example, the size that worked best (gold arrow above) was chosen. This one was set with 216 dpi, giving it a 504 pixel width. It looks most appropriate underneath the paragraph of typed text.
This was selected as the final size of the graphic. It fits best on the Medium page in relationship to the text.
What I’ve shown you is the process for modifying photos for your Medium stories. It is magic that Photoshop automatically makes all the adjustments when you change size or resolution. This piece can be your template on how to prepare your photos. You will find that you will edit each photo and carefully save it, using the same number as the original photo but adding another “0” to the beginning of the numbered file. (03.jpg edited gets saved as 003.jpg.) By diligently managing your photo names in this way, you will always leave your original graphic untouched.