Mental Floss

Publication analysis

About the publication

Title: Mental Floss

ISSN: Print: 1543-4702 (ceased), Online: N/A 1


Purpose, objective, or mission: “Whether we’re covering history, science, pop culture, language, music, true crime, or entertainment, we help our audience feel smarter. Our New York City-based team of editors and writers—as well as our worldwide network of contributors—answers life’s big questions, uncovers fascinating facts, and finds stories so interesting that our readers absolutely must share them.”2

Mental Floss delivers smart, fun and shareable content in an upbeat and witty environment. An encyclopedia of everything, we answer life’s big questions and uncover stories so interesting our readers absolutely must share them. We take all culture and make it pop culture.” 3

Target audience: “Curious People.” 4

Publisher: Minute Media. 5

Peer reviewed? No.

Type: Civilian publication.

Medium: Online. Print issues ceased in 2016. 6

Content: Fun and informative pieces on a wide variety of subjects with a focus on shareability.7

Frequency of publication: Daily.

About the publication’s submission guidelines

Location of submission guidelines:

Types of contributions accepted: “We’re always looking for new voices to write about the diverse verticals we cover, whether that’s history, science, entertainment, language, pop culture, art, or beyond.” 8


Lists are an overview of a topic in digestible-nugget form. Each list will cover the who, what, when, and where of the subject, plus its significance, and pay particular attention to quirky or little-known facts about the subject. Pitches may focus on the below topics:

Subjects that have a major anniversary coming up
Historical figures and events
Movies and TV series
Literature and art
Food and drink
Helpful tips and life hacks
Scientific discoveries, phenomena, and figures
Pop culture fads, events, and personalities


Features are reported stories that delve into a topic from a particular angle and with strong characters and storytelling. Features can be short (500 words) or longer (800-1500 words). Areas ripe for features include:

Historical events that put current events into perspective
Exploring and/or answering a big question
Science stories that explain a new field of research or highlight a scientist’s ongoing work
A deep dive into a pop culture event or phenomenon in history
True crime and unsolved mysteries
Features about odd, unique, or little-known historical events and people

Short, timely news stories: these pieces are covered by our staff writers
Science articles based on a single study: these are also covered by staff writers
First-person articles or personal essays
Fiction, memoir, or poetry
Current politics or political opinion
Stories based solely on PR pitches

Tips provided by Mental Floss: Keep your pitch short (1-2 paragraphs) and let them know if you have a particular expertise on the subject. Include a link to your portfolio/work samples. Do not pitch or send completed articles.  Take the time to brainstorm a possible headline for your story, and include that as part of the subject line, i.e. Freelance Pitch: 50 Amazing Facts About Animals. Having a headline can help us better understand the angle you plan to use with your story. 11

Submission and review process: “Expect a response to your pitch within two weeks. If you do not receive a response after two weeks, you can assume it’s a pass. Due to the number of pitches we receive each day, we are unfortunately not able to respond to every pitch we receive.” 12

Editorial tone: Informal and conversational. Witty, humorous, and informative.

Style guide used: None stated.

Conclusion: Evaluation of publication’s potential for LIS authors

This would be an excellent publication for LIS authors. Librarians are knowledge and information brokers and are often referred to as Renaissance people because of their vast array of knowledge. This type of website caters to that deep storehouse of information. And this website in particular might provide a nice respite from the regular scholarly articlesa way to showcase not only your knowledge but your sense of humor.


Audience analysis

About the publication’s readers

Publication circulation: “Since its founding in a Duke University dorm room in 2001, Mental Floss has reached more than 1 billion readers with smart, quirky content presented in a witty, upbeat voice. We reach more than 19 million users per month across our site, social media accounts, and popular YouTube channel.” 13

According to Visitor’s Worth website, Mental Floss has approximately 58,000 daily visitors, with 154,000 daily page views. 14

Audience location and language or cultural considerations: According to Visitor’s Worth website, the most traffic for the publication comes from audiences in the United States, but the website also has a following in the UK, Canada, India, and Germany. 15 The website publishes in the English language.

Reader characteristics: In general, readers want to expand their knowledge in easily digested tidbits without having to read a whole book on a subject. For example, a past issue boiled down complex theories such as chaos theory, string theory, evolution, game theory, and artificial intelligence into one-to-two-page summaries that mix facts with wit and humor. There are no particular biases in the readership of this publication, except a propensity for trivia and Jeopardy-like knowledge.

Knowledge of LIS subject matter: Readers’ LIS knowledge would vary depending on their interest and work environment. It would be safe to assume a number of librarians read and enjoy this publication, but as the focus is on providing intelligent, humorous articles, use of LIS jargon should be avoided.

Conclusion: Analysis of reader characteristics and their potential impact on authors

Potential authors should keep in mind that readers already have a vast amount of information and wish to add to that knowledge in an enjoyable way. When writing articles for this publication, try to mix education with entertainment. No topic is off limits if you can approach it with new or interesting information presented in a fun way.

Last updated: December 5, 2020


Show 15 footnotes

  1. Mental Floss, Ulrichsweb Global Serials Directory, accessed December 5, 2020,
  2. “About Us,”, accessed December 5, 2020,
  3. “Mental Floss,”, accessed December 5, 2020,
  4. “About Us.”
  5. “Mental Floss.”
  6. “Life After Print for Mental Floss,”, accessed December 5, 2020,
  7. “About Us”
  8. “Pitch,”, accessed December 5, 2020,
  9. “Pitch.”
  10. “Pitch.”
  11. “Pitch.”
  12. “Pitch.”
  13. “About Us.”
  14. “,”, accessed December 5, 2020,
  15. “”
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