Substack offers a variety of post types and formatting tools to help your writing stand out.
Jasmine from Substack’s Writer Development team walked writers through tutorials, case studies, and best practices that inspire you to craft creative posts for your publication in a recent Writer Workshop.
Types of posts
As a writer on Substack, you can publish three types of posts: standard text-based posts, discussion threads, and podcast/audio posts.
You can view each option on the right-hand sidebar of your publication dashboard. To create discussion threads and audio posts, you’ll first want to go to your publication Settings page and check “Enable community features” and “Enable podcasting” respectively.
These are the standard text-based posts that you already know and love. We’ll walk through different formatting tools and tips for styling a post in the section on “Formatting a post.”
Discussion threads are great ways to make your publication more participatory, either by facilitating writer-reader interactions (example: Noahpinion) or building community among readers (example: The New Fatherhood).
Get more ideas for using discussion threads here.
Podcast or audio post
Substack’s podcast feature makes it easy to use audio in your publication, whether a formally hosted podcast or a more casual message to readers.
You could record an interview (example: Time To Say Goodbye), narrate your articles (example: Press Run), or share music (example: Wu Fei’s Music Daily). Get more ideas and examples of audio posts on Substack here.
Formatting a post
Substack provides a wealth of styling tools to add polish and personality to your posts. Here are some general principles to keep in mind while structuring and formatting a post:
Keep your post formatting consistent. For example, use the same illustration style or same headers in each post. This establishes a clear brand identity and helps readers know what to expect from your newsletter.
Write concisely. Most email clients have a length limit, so Substack alerts you when your post is at risk of being cut off.
Visually break up blocks of text. Long blocks of plain text can be difficult to read, especially on mobile. Design your posts to capture readers’ attention at a glance and keep them engaged. You can break up text by using features such as headings, quotes, buttons, and images.
In the post editor, you can use a mix of the following tools to craft a visually appealing and engaging post:
Images: Break up long blocks of text with images such as photos, quick illustrations, or custom banners (Example: Alison Roman). You don’t need artistic talent: Unsplash provides free stock photos, and even a rough sketch can provide a helpful visual.
Banners: Banners are custom branded images with your publication name, post title, or section titles. You can use banners at the top of your posts or insert them as section headers. (Example: Fakepixels)
Email headers and footers: You can edit your “Email banner, header, and footer settings” in your Settings page to customize the top and bottom of emails. This space can be used to prompt free readers to subscribe, request feedback, or insert some visual branding.
Section headers: Using section headers makes long posts more skimmable and structured. This is especially helpful for informational or business newsletters, where many readers are looking for concrete utility. (Example: Technically)
Pull quotes: You can use header formatting to insert pull quotes, which visually break up paragraphs of text and highlight the most important or interesting lines in your post. You can also add divider lines and quote formatting around pull quotes to help them stand out even more. (Example: Essaying)
Buttons: You can insert buttons for your post’s main calls-to-action (e.g. subscribe, comment, share, or a custom link) and most important links.
Footnotes: Footnotes can be a useful tool for adding auxiliary information or citations to your post, especially if you want to keep the main text concise.