The Ultimate Guide to Publishing Canvas Content Items

Filed in Canvas by on December 12, 2019

All items created or uploaded into your Canvas course site must be published before they are visible to students. This includes Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions, Pages, Modules, and Files. In addition, the course itself must be published before students gain access to it. (See Publish a Course.)

How do I know if something is published?

  • Published content is indicated by a green check mark symbol┬áto the right of the item.
  • Unpublished content is indicated by a grey “no” symbol┬áto the right of the item.
  • From Modules, click on the symbol to publish the item. Don’t forget the Module itself!
  • From the editing page for the item, click on the Publish button.

icons of published and unpublished items in module

item in published state

item in unpublished state

Publishing Individual Content & Files

Content can be published or unpublished by clicking the symbol to the right of the item.

Files have special permissions that other types of content do not have. By default, Files will be Published when they are uploaded in Canvas. If you need to modify this, you can adjust the permissions on a per file or folder basis.

Aside from Publish and Unpublish, your options for files are:

  1. Not visible in student files – this means that the file can be linked to from elsewhere in your Canvas site, but will not be listed for students in the general Files area.
  2. Schedule student availability – this means that you may choose a date/time when the specific file or folder becomes available for student viewing.

open file permissions

listing of file permissions

Publishing Modules

Click the appropriate icon to the right of the Module name to publish or unpublish it.

Modules are the gatekeepers, or the “final say,” in whether a student can see an item or not. If you have not published the module where you added an item, the item will not be able to be accessed by your students regardless of where else you published it in your course site.

Please note: When you publish a Module, Canvas will automatically publish any unpublished individual module items under that heading. You may want to wait to publish a Module until all module items are ready. Or you can publish the Module and then unpublish individual items on an as needed basis.

publish a module

Making Assignments and Quizzes Available

If you’re collecting Assignments through Canvas, make sure to select “Online” as the Submission Type, and choose “File Upload” so students may upload their materials to Canvas.

If you’re collecting Assignments DURING CLASS but would still like to track grades within Canvas, select “On Paper” as the Submission Type.

If you’re conducting a quiz DURING CLASS, but would like to still track grades within Canvas, create an Assignment (not a quiz) and choose “No Submission” as the Submission Type. This will create a simple Grade Column in Gradebook for you to manually input the quiz scores.

how to set availability for assignments and quizzes in Canvas

Under the “Due” heading, you may select the date an item is due. Canvas will allow late submissions, and will mark them as such.

Under the “Available from” heading, you may specify when the assignment or quiz opens for students’ submissions.

Under the “Until” heading, you specify when the item can no longer be submitted by students.

When finished, make sure to click the Publish button. Canvas will not automatically publish anything for you, regardless of the date you set for availability.

I hope this helps give you a refresher on making content available to your students within Canvas. If you have any questions, please contact us at

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