Archive FAQ > Tutorial: Posting a Work on AO3

Introduction

This tutorial will guide you through the Post New Work form on Archive of Our Own (AO3) step by step, and assumes you have no prior knowledge of posting a work on AO3. It also assumes you're accessing the site in the default skin; please make allowances if your site customization is different.

If your work is already online at another site, you may prefer to import it. Note that the success of the import function largely depends on the originating site and its compatibility with AO3; we are currently unable to import from several sites.

You can find more information on posting, editing, and importing works at the Posting and Editing FAQ.

Please note: We strongly encourage you to compose your work off the site in a word processor or other program and then post it on AO3 once it's ready. There is no auto-save function while you are working in this page, and AO3 drafts are deleted one month after their creation date. Deleted drafts cannot be recovered.

To learn more about drafts and how they work on AO3, please refer to the Posting and Editing FAQ.

About the New Work Page

Go to the Post menu and choose "New Work". This is located at the top right of the screen next to your user name.

screenshot of the Post New Work menu item

This takes you to the New Work page, where you can add your work's content and other information. Required fields are marked with an asterisk and red text in the field headings.

If you have a draft saved, an option to "Restore From Last Unposted Draft?" will appear as a button at the top of the page. Selecting this will close the current New Work page and open the Edit Work page for the last draft you saved. To learn more about drafts and how they work on AO3, please refer to the Posting and Editing FAQ.

Most of the options have a blue question mark symbol beside them help symbol, which brings up a help pop-up with additional information.

Entering Tag Information

We use tags for the majority of the information (metadata) attached to works. Category, Warnings, Rating, Fandoms, Characters, Relationships, and Additional Tags are all types of tags. For more information about tags please refer to the Tags FAQ.

Some fields will be autocompleting fields. That means you can start entering the tag and a list of suggestions will come up. Only canonical tags— that is, tags that have been marked "common" by AO3's tag wranglers—will appear. If you want to create a new tag, you can ignore the autocomplete suggestions and type the name out in full. Make sure you press Enter or insert a comma after each tag. You can repeat this process until you have all desired tags listed.

Users of AO3 may use this information to help them find works of interest to them, so filling these fields out as accurately and completely as possible will help ensure that other users find your work.

Rating (required)

Select the rating which you believe best applies to your work (or select "Not Rated").

Ratings measure the intensity of a work's content and give users an idea of the suitability of the work for them. Ratings and warnings can attract users who are seeking specific content, and they can also warn off users who are trying to avoid that content. Because fanworks may deal with controversial and painful issues, we encourage creators to choose ratings and warnings that help users make decisions about the works they access.

The ratings and their definitions are as follows:

Not Rated
This is the default option. For searching, screening, and other Archive functions, this may get treated the same way as mature and explicit-rated content. Choose this rating if you prefer not to rate your content.
General Audiences
The content is unlikely to be disturbing to anyone, and is suitable for all ages.
Teen And Up Audiences
The content may be inappropriate for audiences under 13.
Mature
The content contains adult themes (sex, violence, etc) that aren't as graphic as explicit-rated content.
Explicit
The content contains explicit adult themes, such as porn, graphic violence, etc.

A user accessing a "Not Rated", "Mature" or "Explicit" rated work will receive a warning (unless they have disabled it in their preferences) to advise them that the work may contain adult content. You can refer to How can I turn off the confirmation to access adult content? regarding this option.

For more information about ratings on AO3, visit the Terms of Service FAQ - Ratings and Warnings.

Archive Warnings (required)

Select any warning(s) which you believe apply to your work, or "No Archive Warnings Apply", or "Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings". You can make multiple selections. Fanworks may deal with controversial and painful issues; therefore, we encourage creators to choose ratings and warnings that help users make decisions about the works they access.

AO3 requires that creators either warn for—or explicitly choose not to warn for—a short list of common warnings: Major Character Death, Underage, Rape/Non-Con, and Graphic Depictions of Violence. We've also provided options to warn for additional content or to not warn for content at all.

The warnings and their definitions are as follows:

Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Use this if warnings may apply but you don't want to use them.
No Archive Warnings Apply
Use this if AO3 warnings don't apply to your content (in other words, if it contains no graphic depictions of violence, major character death, rape/non-con, or underage sexual activity).
Graphic Depictions Of Violence
This is for gory, graphic, explicitly described violence. Exactly where to draw the line is your call.
Major Character Death
Please use your best judgment about who counts as a major character.
Rape/Non-Con
Again, this is your call. If you think your content is borderline non-consensual, but you don't feel like using this warning (or you're not sure if you should), you always have the option of using "Choose Not to Use Archive Warnings" instead.
Underage
This is for descriptions or depictions of sexual activity by characters under the age of eighteen (this doesn't include dating activity like kissing or vague references with no actual description/depiction). This generally applies to humans; if you are writing porn about space aliens who only live for a month or thousand year-old vampires with sixteen year-old bodies, please just use your best judgment. You are always free to specify characters' ages or to use "Choose Not to Use Archive Warnings".

You can use the Additional Tags field to give other or more detailed warnings (this will be covered in more detail further on in the tutorial).

Our policies regarding warnings can be found in the Terms of Service and Terms of Service FAQ.

Fandoms (required)

Enter the name(s) of the fandom(s) to which your work belongs. Full names, rather than abbreviations, are preferred to avoid ambiguity.

This is an autocompleting field. Note that if you create a fandom tag, it may not show up in the fandoms page for a few days.

You can post works on the Archive that don't relate to specific fandoms. For more information, please refer to Can I archive original fiction? in the Terms of Service. You can post these types of works using the "Original Work" fandom tag.

screenshot of the fandom autocompleting field in practice

For more information on fandom (and other) tags, please refer to the Tags FAQ or When will you remove a fandom tag? in the Terms of Service FAQ.

Category

Choose one or more categories for the romantic and/or sexual relationship(s) your work includes (if any) from the list.

There are 6 categories of works on AO3. An interpretation of the abbreviations is below; however, the exact definitions of these vary from fandom to fandom and fan to fan. Use whichever you feel are applicable, or else none:

F/F
Female/Female relationships.
F/M
Female/Male relationships.
Gen
General: no romantic or sexual relationships, or relationships which are not the main focus of the work.
M/M
Male/Male relationships.
Multi
More than one kind of relationship, or a relationship with multiple partners.
Other
Other relationships.

Relationships

List the main relationship(s) in your work. These can be any type of relationship, not just romantic or sexual. A romantic and/or sexual relationship is indicated by using a slash ("/") separator (for example, "Mickey Mouse/Minnie Mouse"). Nonsexual, non-romantic relationships–such as platonic relationships between friends, family, teammates, etc.–are indicated with an "&" separator (for example "Alphonse Elric & Edward Elric").

Full names are preferred where possible to avoid ambiguity. Please note that each relationship tag must be 100 characters or less; if your work contains a relationship involving six or more characters, you may want to use first names or nicknames only to avoid going over the character limit.

This is an autocompleting field. For more information on relationship (and other) tags, please refer to the Tags FAQ.

screenshot of the relationships autocompleting field in practice

Characters

Here you can list the main character(s) in your work. Full names (personal name and family name) are preferred to avoid ambiguity. If you are including original characters, you can choose to use the existing tags for those—just start entering "original character" for a list.

This is an autocompleting field. For more information on character (and other) tags, please refer to the Tags FAQ.

screenshot of the characters autocompleting field in practice

Additional Tags

Here you can include any other tags you want to give your work. You may also use this field to warn for things not covered by Archive Warnings. Please do not enter fandoms, relationships, or character names in this field, unless you're including extra information about them (for example "Female Sherlock Holmes" or "Minor Haku/Ogino Chihiro").

Additional Tags are an important tool for users to find works which interest them (e.g. in particular genres or tropes, or that deal with particular issues). To reach the maximum number of interested users with your work, it's worth taking the time to tag accurately and informatively. However, it's entirely up to you how much (or how little) you tag your work and what you include.

There are no limitations as to what can be entered as an Additional Tag, so you can use it in whatever way seems appropriate for your work and/or fandom. You can help users understand the genres or tropes your work includes (for example, angst, fluff and angst, humor, coming out, BDSM, public sex). If you have taken canon characters from your fandom and put them into a different environment, you can let users know this by tagging it as an Alternate Universe work (some AU tropes have existing canonical tags, such as omegaverse). If your work is a crossover or fusion, it can be useful to include those tags here. You can list kinks included in your work, the time period of your work...the list goes on.

If you're unsure about what to put here, try browsing your fandom to find out what tags other creators have used. You can always edit the work later to change or add to your tags.

This is an autocompleting field. For more information, please refer to the Tags FAQ.

screenshot of the additional tags autocompleting field in practice

Work Title (required)

Enter the title of your work. This can be anything, up to 255 characters of unformatted text. You cannot use HTML or CSS formatting in this field.

Add co-authors?

If you've created the work with others, you can check this box and then enter their pseud(s). You can only add an existing AO3 account holder as a co-creator. This is not the place to credit beta readers; common practice is to use the Notes for that.

Once added, a co-creator is able to edit chapters they are credited on, delete the work, or add it to their series.

Please note that once a co-creator is added, you cannot remove them from the work and we are unable to do it for you. They have to do that themselves. Therefore, please ensure you are adding the right person and not someone with a similar pseud.

Summary

Enter a summary of your work. This is a bit like the blurb you find on the back of a book jacket or DVD. You can use it to let people know what they can expect from your work and get them interested.

If you're unsure how to summarize your work, you can browse other works on AO3 for ideas. A summary is not required, so you can choose not to include one if you prefer.

Notes

You can include any additional information you'd like in the Notes section. Notes can be added to the beginning and/or end of your work, or to individual chapters.

Some examples of Notes could be:

  • to explain why you've created the work (e.g. a prompt).
  • to thank people who've helped you (e.g. betas).
  • a message to users following your work (e.g. when you plan to post updates to a WIP).
  • content warnings which haven't been included in the tags but which you'd like to mention.
  • anything else you'd like people to know about your work that hasn't been indicated in the summary or tags.

Does this fulfill a challenge assignment?

If you have an open assignment, this option will appear on the Post New Work page.

To fulfill your assignment, check its "Challenge/Gift Exchange Assignment" checkbox. Once your work is posted, the following will occur:

  • your assignment will be marked as complete.
  • the work will be gifted to the relevant user (in the case of gift exchanges).
  • your work will be added to the collection.

Post to Collections / Challenges

If you created the work as part of a collection or challenge, here is where you specify that. If you've used the Challenge Assignment checkbox, you don't need to complete this section. This is an autocompleting field. Note that you cannot create a new collection from this page.

If the challenge is a gift exchange, you can also enter the name of the recipient of your work in the "Gift this work to" field. If the collection you are adding your work to is anonymous and/or unrevealed, adding your work to it will anonymize you as the creator and/or hide your work from all users except yourself and the collection moderator(s) until the collection is revealed. Please be aware of this when adding your work to collections.

Please refer to the Collections and Challenges FAQ for more information.

Gift this work to

If you created the work as a gift, or as part of a gift exchange, you can enter the recipient's pseud(s) here. If you have used the Challenge Assignment checkbox, you don't need to complete this section.

Recipients don't need to have an Archive account, but the gifted work can be linked to an Archive account if they do have one. To link a gifted work to an Archive account, you can start entering the recipient's name and a list of pseuds for Archive account holders will come up. Select the person you're gifting your work to. If there is a list of similar pseuds, it's important to ensure you select the correct one. Works can be gifted to multiple recipients.

If you've accidentally gifted the work to the wrong account or pseud, you can remove the recipient through the Edit Work page by clicking on the red (×) next to their name. Then you can enter the correct name or pseud and select the "Update" button to have the recipient changed.

For recipients who don't have an Archive account, you can enter their pseud or name in full. However, please ensure the pseud or name does not belong to an Archive account holder. If it does, you will need to differentiate it in some way, or the work will be gifted to the AO3 account.

This work is a remix, a translation, a podfic, or was inspired by another work

Check this checkbox if you created your work based on another work, and then fill in the details.

  • URL - enter the URL of the source work. If the work is on AO3, the URL is the only detail you need to fill in—unless you're posting a translation, in which case you'll also need to check that checkbox.
  • Title - enter the Title of the source work, if it's not posted on AO3.
  • Author - enter the pseud or name of the person who created the source work, if it's not posted on AO3.
  • Language - enter the language of the source work, if it's not posted on AO3. You will set the language of your work further down the page.
  • Translation - if your work is a translation of the source work, check the checkbox here.

This work is part of a series

Check this checkbox if your work is part of a new or existing series. You can only add works to a series if you are the owner or co-owner. To add the work to an existing series, select it from the "Choose one of your existing series" menu list. To create a new series, enter the name of the series in the field labelled "Or create and use a new one".

To add the work to another person's series (e.g. a co-creator) they'll need to have made you a co-author of the series.

For more information on Series on AO3, please refer to the Series FAQ.

This work has multiple chapters

Check this checkbox if your work will contain multiple chapters. If you already know how many chapters there will be, you can replace the default question mark with the chapter total. You can also enter a unique title for your chapter, but this is not required. If you don't enter a chapter title, the default title will be each chapter's number (e.g. "Chapter 2"). If you enter a title for Chapter 1, it won't appear on the work until you have at least 2 chapters.

You can add chapters to your work once it's posted by opening your work and selecting the "Add Chapter" button. You can also get to it from the Works page on your Dashboard.

For more information on multiple chapter works, please refer to the Posting and Editing FAQ.

Set a different publication date

Check this checkbox if you'd like to backdate your work, then select the day, month, and year of publication. This can be useful if you are reposting a work that was previously posted elsewhere and you'd like to have the work on AO3 reflect the original posting date.

Note that you can't set a publication date in the future.

A work with a backdated publishing date will still show up in RSS feeds as a newly posted work, but will not appear at the top of index pages with the default (date updated) sort order (e.g the results page when browsing or searching for works).

Choose a language

Select the language of your work via the menu list. English is selected by default. If your language is not on the list, please contact Support and let us know.

Select Work Skin

You can create a work skin to change the appearance of your work. The Archive of Our Own (AO3) only accepts a select list of HTML tags, so work skins let you have greater control over the appearance of your work. For example, you may wish to use font colors to indicate which character is speaking, writing, or texting, or to indent certain parts of your work. Please refer to the Skins and Archive Interface FAQ or the Tutorial: Styling Works for more information on creating a work skin.

There are also two Public Work Skins which you can choose here—the Basic Formatting skin and the Homestuck skin.

Select the skin you want to use from the menu list.

Privacy

  • Only show your work to registered users - check this checkbox to only allow users logged in to AO3 to access your work.
  • Disable anonymous commenting - check this to prevent comments from users who are not logged in. This option still allows guests to access the work and leave kudos.
  • Enable comment moderation - check this to moderate comments on your work. That means you will have to approve all comments before they appear publicly. Refer to Releases 0.9.87 - 0.9.91: Change Log (Comment moderation released!) for further information on comment moderation.

Input the Work

It's not yet possible to host videos, images or audio files on AO3, but you can embed works hosted elsewhere. If you are posting a video, image, or audio work, please refer to the Posting and Editing FAQ for details on how to embed this media.

Here you have two input types in the Work Text field—you can either enter your work in plain text and use limited HTML tagging (default option) or you can select the Rich Text button to enter preformatted text.

Please note: We strongly encourage you to compose your work off the site in a word processor or relevant program, and then post it on AO3 once it's ready. There is no auto-save function while you're working in this page, and works saved as drafts are deleted a month after their creation date. Deleted drafts cannot be recovered.

To learn more about drafts and how they work on AO3, please refer to the Posting and Editing FAQ.

Using HTML

The HTML editor allows you to mark up your text with HTML tags. For more elaborate styling, you will need to use a "Work Skin", which is basically custom CSS. Please refer to the Tutorial: Styling Works for more information on creating a Work Skin.

Allowed HTML

a, abbr, acronym, address, b, big, blockquote, br, caption, center, cite, code, col, colgroup, dd, del, dfn, div, dl, dt, em, h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, h6, hr, i, img, ins, kbd, li, ol, p, pre, q, s, samp, small, span, strike, strong, sub, sup, table, tbody, td, tfoot, th, thead, tr, tt, u, ul, var.

How do we format your HTML?

When you enter HTML into the Work Text field, we do some cleanup on it to make sure that it's safe (to prevent spammers and hackers from uploading malicious code). We also do some basic formatting both for your convenience and for accessibility reasons.

To preview the results of our formatting and correct any mistakes, you can select the "Rich Text" button and then "HTML". You can also choose "Preview" and then "Edit" to return to this page—these buttons can be found at the bottom of the page.

Please note that the best way to get good results is to put in good HTML—that's how you can be sure your work will be formatted correctly across various browsers, screen readers, mobile devices, and downloads.

For more information on using HTML and the formatting we do for you, please go to the HTML Help page.

Using the Rich Text Editor

The exact behavior of the Rich Text Editor (RTE) depends on your device, browser, and operating system, as well as the source you're pasting from. However, starting with a well-formatted document will help.

For more information on getting the most out of the RTE, pasting from specific text editors, and pasting specific types of formatting please refer to the RTE Help page.

There are a couple of issues with pasting from some common word processing programs that we are aware of. Please visit the Known Issues page for further detail on this.

Posting the Work

Once you're happy with the formatting of your work and the options you've selected, you can preview how your work will appear by selecting the "Preview" button in the Post section of the page (below the work). When you preview the work, you'll also get the option to save it as a draft. You can post your work without previewing it by selecting "Post Without Preview"; however, it is recommended that you preview it first, especially if this is your first time posting on AO3.

There is also a "Cancel" button located in the Post section; please note that if you select "Cancel" and you have not saved the draft, you will lose all work on this page and it cannot be recovered.

To make changes, select the "Edit" button. To save your work as a draft and come back to it later, select "Save Without Posting". Once you're happy with the preview, select the "Post" button below and your work will be posted on AO3 for people to enjoy.

Please note: Unposted drafts are automatically deleted from AO3 one month from the date they're created. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to compose your work off the site in a word processor or other program, and then post it on AO3 once it's complete. Deleted drafts cannot be recovered..

To learn more about drafts and how they work on AO3, please refer to the Posting and Editing FAQ.

Happy posting!

Where can I get more information if my question isn't answered here?

For more information on Posting and Editing Works, refer to the Posting and Editing FAQ. Some other frequently asked questions about AO3 are answered in the broader Archive FAQ. Questions and answers about our Terms of Service can be found in the Terms of Service FAQ. You may also like to check out our Known Issues. If you need more help, please contact Support.