It’s no secret that we’re obsessed with words here at Medium — but that’s not the end of the story. As many photographers on Medium have shown, pictures can help bring words to life or tell a story all on their own.
Whether you’re looking to use images as a highlight or the foundation of your story, this primer is our official guide to making sure the visuals of your story look great every time. We’ll start with the basics and move our way to more advanced features. This will be a living guide that we’ll edit and update as we launch new photo features, so don’t forget to save it to your bookmarks on Medium.
Adding an image
The first step to creating beautiful visuals in your Medium story is easy: You need to get the image into your draft. If you’re writing on Medium from a web browser, you can hit the + button to the left of your cursor to find the camera icon, then copy and paste the image from your computer or the internet directly into your draft. You can also drag and drop an image file from your desktop or from a folder. If you want to place an image from our mobile apps on iOS and Android, hit the “image” button above your keyboard to bring up your camera roll, then select your picture to be dropped into your story.
Sometimes, you want to feature a set of images or photos together. On desktop and in our mobile apps, you can create image grids to display multiple images. You choose the photos and order, and we’ll optimize the formatting and layout on every platform to make the gallery look beautiful.
Once the images are in your Medium story, you can click and drag to reposition any image until things look just right.
To create an image grid on web, select multiple image files in the order you’d like them displayed during the upload process (using the CMD or CTRL button) or drag images already placed in your draft on top of one another.
On our iOS editor, select multiple images in the order you want them displayed after clicking the image icon. Medium will then decide how many images should be in each row and organize the thumbnails to look awesome together.
While Medium uploads images you drop into your story for you, if you prefer, you can also easily embed an image directly from another site (like Instagram, Imgur, Flickr, or Dribbble). We’ve provided a full list of support services from which you can embed images.
To embed an image into your story, click the toolbar to the left of your cursor and select the third option to embed an image. From there, you can paste the URL of the image you want to embed in your story. Medium will do the rest. (You can also use one of my personal favorite shortcuts: Paste the link into your story and hit enter to embed.)
Header and featured images
Let’s dig into some of the more advanced stuff. A visual aid, paired with your title, is a helpful tool to draw a reader’s eye and entice them in for more.
Preview images generate automatically if your header image is the first item in your story — but you can make any image in your post the featured image by clicking on your image of choice and pressing Shift + F (here’s a list of all our keyboard shortcuts, in case you were interested). The border will turn red to denote it is now the featured image, and we’ll use it as a thumbnail when we showcase your post.
Image layouts & preferred image sizes
Medium scales any image to look good in the context of your story, but there are preferred image widths for each of our layouts. Using these ensures your image will remain crisp and render exactly as you intended.
While we recommend the highest resolution image possible for all widths, these are our recommended minimums for each layout possible on Medium. For left-aligned images, square and landscape-sized images often look best with wrapped text.
- Left-aligned images: 700px
- Full column-width images: 1400px
- Out-set images (bigger than full-column): 2040px
- Screen-width images: 2500px
Even the most powerful image can sometimes be made stronger with a couple extra words.
To create a caption for an image, click your image so that its border turns green. Below the image you will see “Type caption for image (optional)” appear in light grey text. Click on this text to type your own caption — Medium will take care of centering the text.
On Medium, any word can be made into a hyperlink. So too can images.
To make an image link, click on your image so that its border turns green. Once the border is green, click ⌘ + K / Ctrl + K simultaneously. A black box will appear above your image that says “Paste or type a link.” Click on this text and replace it with your own link and, voilà, your image is now clickable.
An essential how-to for all your image questions
Medium’s Help Center is a treasure trove of easy-to-understand FAQs, including its extensive image-creation section. Save this page — it’s an indispensable tool for any Medium author who likes to experiment with visuals in her stories.
Looking for some inspiration?
Here are some great posts from Medium users that use amazing imagery to tell a story:
‘Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You’ – Advice From a Seasoned Photojournalist
Toni Greaves has spent her life around visual arts, and storytelling in one form or another has been a fascinated…
In Photos: South By South Lawn
Yesterday, we hosted South by South Lawn, a festival of art, ideas, and action. From interactive booths to panel…
Photoessay: Moments in Hong Kong
When people think of Hong Kong, they usually refer to the densely populated city centre interspersed with street…
Photos: Hardship and humanity in New York City’s Bowery flophouses
What co-living looked like in the days before startup culture
Any tips we forgot? Respond to this post to share more tips with us and your followers.