Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about markdown as an alternate way to format text.

I decided to do a little research and see what all the talk was about and I was actually quite glad of what I found; markdown is simple markup language that makes it easier for writers to write good content for the web without having to worry about the HTML code in their articles.

The benefit of using markdown is that you can write substantially cleaner articles and it also makes it easier for anyone reading your articles to be able to read it, without actually opening the page in a browser.

 

How to write markdown

Writing markdown is the simplest thing you can imagine:

Bold and italic text

To create italic text you just need to surround the text by one star:

This is *italic text.*

Which will produce:

This is italic text.

And to create bold text you insert two stars:

And this is **bold text.**

Which will produce:

And this is bold text. 

Headings

To create headings in markdown all you need to is add a hash sign before your content. One hash sign is the equivalent of an <h1>, two means an <h2> and so on until <h6>:

# this is an heading 1
## this is an heading 2
### this is an heading 3
#### this is an heading 4
##### this is an heading 5
###### this is an heading 6

Paragraphs

Writing paragraphs is as simple as writing your text, and if you want to add another another paragraph you just need to press enter and in the next line a new paragraph will be added:

One paragraph

And here is another paragraph

Is the equivalent of:

<p>One paragraph</p>
<p>And here is another paragraph</p>

Blockquotes

To create blockquotes you need to add a angled bracket (>) before the text you want, like so:

> Somebody said this quote some years ago

Which is the same as:

<blockquote>
  <p>Somebody said this quote some years ago</p>
<blockquote>

Links

Creating links is very simlar to HTML, you first place the text you want the user to see inside square brackets and then place the link location inside a pair of parentheses:

[Webdesigner Depot](http://www.webdesignerdepot.com)

Which is the equivalent of:

<a href=”http://www.webdesignerdepot.com”>Webdesigner Depot</a>

Images

Images use the same basic syntax as links, but in images the text you place in square brackets will be the alt text and you also need to place an exclamation mark before everything to make markdown know that what you are writing is an image and not a link:

![My image](http://example.com/myimage.jpg)

Is the same as:

<img src=”http://example.com/myimage.jpg” alt=”My image” />

Unordered Lists

To create a simple unordered list you only need to create the list items, you don’t need to worry about opening and closing the list. All you need to do is to add a line break, then add an asterisk before each item:

* One list item
* Another list item
* And a third one

Is the equivalent of:

<ul>
<li>One list item</li>
<li>Another list item</li>
<li>And a third one</li>
</ul>

Ordered Lists

Like the unordered lists you only need to concern yourself with the actual list items, there’s no opening or closing. To use an ordered list you just need to use numbers instead of asterisks:

1 One list item
2 Another list item
3 And a third one

Is the equivalent of:

<ol>
<li>One list item</li>
<li>Another list item</li>
<li>And a third one</li>
</ol>

 

Conclusion

Markdown is a really good backup if you write articles for the web and you are not a savvy HTML developer, it really facilitates the creation of content for the web. There is even a WordPress Plugin that allows markdown in posts and comments and automatically converts it to HTML.

Have you learnt to use markdown? What benefits have you found over other forms of markup? Let us know in the comments.

Featured image/thumbnail, blogging image via Shutterstock.

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  • Michael Bond

    You don’t actually need to number an ordered list properly. You can simply do:

    1. This
    1. that
    1. another
    1. thing

    and it will create the list. Saves a little headache.

    • Benjie

      Thanks for the great tip!

  • http://twitter.com/bangpound Benjamin Doherty

    The advice for creating paragraphs is incorrect, but it may just be due to a formatting problem. Paragraphs must have an empty line between them in Markdown.

    One paragraph
    And here is another paragraph

    Would become

    One paragraph And here is another paragraph

    • Benjie

      Thanks, it was indeed a formatting issue.

  • Guest

    Paragraphs need an extra newline between each one.

    • Benjie

      Thanks, it was a formatting issue.

  • http://twitter.com/iheartwordpress Chris McCoy

    good post, also i been using a desktop app which is nice if you dont want to deal with all the markdown code called markdown pad http://markdownpad.com/ pretty nice free app

  • James Rechard

    Before i didnt’ know any mMark Down Language. By Sharing this information i came to know the importance of Mark Down Language…

  • Zell Liew

    Just wanted to add that you could use a way to make links and images much easier to read. You can also add a title tag to links and alt text to images with “”.

    Here’s an example:

    For links,
    [Web Designer Depot][1]

    [1]: http://www.webdesignerdepot.com “Web Designer Depot”

    Will produce:

    Web Designer Depot

    Likewise for images, its the same format as links with the exception of a ! as the first letter.

    You can also checkout Markdown Documentation here

    • http://twitter.com/NikkitaFTW Sara Vieira

      Thanks for the information !