Medium’s Distribution Guidelines: everything writers need to know

Updated: October 2, 2020

 

We value quality content — fresh ideas, unique perspectives, varied voices, smart thinking — and believe readers do, too. Here are the elements our editorial teams consider in evaluating story quality:

  • Does the story meet a high editorial standard? – Is it well-written, easy to follow, free of errors, appropriately sourced, narratively strong, and compelling? 
  • Does it add value for the reader? – Does it share new insights or perspectives? Offer an original take on a familiar issue? Does it stir emotions and/or thinking? Provide meaningful advice? Enrich a reader’s understanding of the topic? Does it feel like time well spent?
  • Is it written for the reader? – Is the story written with the reader in mind? Does the story make a connection with the reader or to a larger issue?
  • Is it complete? – Is it a finished, polished piece of work? Considered? Concise? Will a reader walk away satisfied?
  • Is it rigorous? – Are claims supported? Sources cited alongside stated facts? Does the story hold up to scrutiny?
  • Is it honest? – Is the story written in good faith? Is it truthful? 
  • Does it offer a good reading experience? – Is it properly formatted for the web/mobile? Does it have a clear and relevant headline that lets the reader know what the story is about? An easily readable story body — paragraphs/spacing/styling/section breaks/quotes? 
  • Is it clean? Is it free of typos and errors? 
  • Is the imagery appropriate? Is the imagery relevant and appropriate to the story?

Story disqualifications

Stories must comply with Medium’s Rules and the distribution standards to be eligible for further distribution. It is important to note, however, that compliance with the standards below does not guarantee additional distribution.

  • Violations of Ad-Free Medium
    • This includes unacceptable embeds, images, and promotions
  • Content that violates Medium’s Rules, including:
    • Stories that promote intolerance or prejudice against individuals or groups, including the use of scientific or pseudoscientific claims to pathologize, dehumanize, or disempower others.
    • Stories that glorify, celebrate, downplay, or trivialize violence, suffering, abuse, or deaths.
    • Stories that exist mainly to target, shame, intimidate, or harass identified, identifiable, or anonymous people.
    • Plagiarism/“borrowing” content without citation
    • Duplicate content
    • Undisclosed affiliate links
    • Nudity that is not content-supportive; it must be appropriate and tasteful to the story and is not allowed in the feature image
    • Violent, graphic, or offensive images or videos
    • Promotion of self-harm, suicide, or eating disorders
    • Pseudoscience or questionable health/medical/diet claims, including anti-vaxx
    • Conspiracy theories
    • Unsubstantiated accusations of illegal or unethical behavior
    • Including personal or private information without permission (includes personal communications)
  • Disqualifying headlines
    • Clickbait is content that’s designed to entice a reader to click. It often shows up in the form of deceptive or manipulative story packaging (the headline, subheadline, and feature image) — a hyperbolic claim, a too-wide curiosity gap, a titillating image, etc. These stories do not follow through on their promise and often leave the reader unsatisfied.
    • No headline
    • All-caps headline
    • Typos in headline
    • Links in headline
    • No profanity (exceptions for demonstrable necessity) 
    • No clickbait

Standard headline styling is title case for the headline and sentence case for the subtitle. This isn’t required but is ideal.

  • Disqualifying story types
    • No meta – no stories written about Medium
    • Sponsored content, content marketing, or stories whose sole purpose is to gather signups/traffic
    • Press releases
    • Non-English stories (we can only review English stories at this time)
    • Erotica
    • Inflammatory business reviews
    • Response posts
    • Newsletters
  • Disqualifying story elements
    • Medium writers are welcome to promote themselves and their products/services in their writer bio. The story page is for the story. Any calls to action (CTAs) in the story should be simple, clear, and brief (under 40 words or so), including for publications. Embeds that collect user information must do it off-site only (collecting user info on Medium is a rules violation). Your CTA may include a limited number of hyperlinks to other content. Intrusive or deceptive CTAs or promotions may cause your story to be rejected.
    • Non-compliant CTAs or first-party promotion
    • Patreon links or donation requests (legitimate charities are allowed)
    • Clap requests
    • Requests to read slowly or read through to the end
    • Request to become a Medium member
    • Including a Friend Link in the story
    • Clipped stories — stories that are only partially on Medium and continue on another site
    • Copyrighted images – Writers/pubs should use images they have the rights for and cite their sources. Resources like Nappy, Pexels, Pixabay, Unsplash, and the Gender Spectrum Collection are great for sourcing Creative Commons-licensed images (please be sure to research and adhere to the license of the images you use). Original imagery is also great.
    • Ad-hominem attacks or rebuttals

To find helpful tips for writers on everything from setting up your profile to writing great headlines, check out the Medium Writers Team, and be sure to follow Medium’s official blog, 3 Min Read.

The statements, views, and opinions contained in curated stories are those of the authors and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect the opinions of, Medium or its employees.

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