Markdown: One Format to Rule Them All

Tutorials – Markdown

Article from Issue 201/2017
Author(s):

Create attractive and structured documents from the comfort of your text editor – and convert them to a huge array of formats.

It should come as no surprise that we Linux Voicers are big fans of open standards. For complicated documents or spreadsheets, Open Document Format (ODF, as used by LibreOffice) is the way to go. But, it's also a rather complicated beast, and for shorter or simpler texts that you may want to process using other tools, it's arguably overkill. So, what other options do you have for text-heavy content?

Well, there's HTML – which is somewhat standardized but gets a bit fiddly to write with all the tags. If you're working on a scientific paper, then LaTeX is a great choice, but it has a pretty steep learning curve. And, of course, there's always plain ASCII text, but that has its limitations as well – namely, there's no way to add formatting.

Wouldn't it be great if you could add some symbols and other bits to plain text, so that it's perfectly readable in an editor like Vim, Emacs, or Nano, but could also be processed to add formatting? Enter Markdown [1]. The name is a play on markup, as in a "markup language" like HTML, but Markdown is very different. It was originally created in 2004, and today there are various implementations and supersets (with no official standard).

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