Publishing is a major feature in Canvas allows you to make changes to pages, assignments, quizzes, discussions  files, and even modules in the course before revealing them to students. The feature is important to understand because forgetting to publish something is a common mistake that can impede students from accessing course materials. For the most part your sites are already developed and course items should already be published. For any reason students are not able to find that new quiz, it is prudent to check to see if it is published first before reaching out for assistance.

Step 1: Identify if Content is Published or Not

Published files will have a green check mark. Non-published have a grey crossed out circle. There are many locations for which you can check to see if items are published. A few key places include:

  • the Modules page for all activities and pages placed in modules
  • the Assignments page for graded assignments, quizzes and discussions
  • the Pages page for Overviews as well as other Canvas pages

All of the publishing indication icons can be found on the far right side of the row in any of these pages. To check to see if a module is published, you can see the icon on the top right of the module block.

Unpublished items have a grey crossed out icon and Published items have a green check mark icon.


Step 2: Publishing or Unpublishing Content

Publishing something is just as simple as clicking on the grey crossed-out circle icon. Inversely unpublishing something can be accomplished by clicking on the same icon.

Click on the icon to publish or unpublish content.


You can also publish specific activities or pages when you are looking inside them by clicking on the grey Publish button with the crossed out circle. Once it turns green and says “Published” with the checkmark, it should become available for students.


Published vs. Unpublished in the content page

Bulk Publish and Unpublish Module Items

As of June 17, 2023, Instructure made it possible to bulk publish and unpublish module items in Canvas

If you go to the Modules page, you can see on the top a button for Publish All with a drop-down arrow. The drop-down menu reveals options for: 

  • Publish all modules and items: Publishes all of the modules and the content "items" in each module on the Modules page
  • Publish modules only: Publishes only all of the modules on the Modules page
  • Unpublish all modules and items: Unpublishes all of the modules and the content "items" in each module on the Modules page
Showing the "Publish All" button on the top of the Modules page


Above each module the publishing button now has a drop-down arrow indicating a drop-down menu that has similar options for the module level:

  • Publish module and all items: Publishes the selected module and all of the content "items" in the module
  • Publish module only: Only publishes the module, like it's previous functionality.
  • Unpublish module and all items: Unpublishes the selected module and all of the content "items" in the module
Showing the new publish all drop-down menu at the module level on the Modules page.


Functionality for publishing each item on the modules page has not changed at all.