Simplified Writing — A Markdown Tutorial

Learn markdown to simplify your writing/publishing workflow.

What is markdown?

Markdown is plain text markup created by John Gruber.

Markdown converts easily to formatted HTML which makes it a great tool for writing/publishing.

In addition to the original version, there are several markdown variations. Examples include:

To help with standardization, there is a markdown specification known as CommonMark.


What are the benefits of markdown?

  • It’s easy to learn
  • Significantly speeds up writing/publishing workflow
  • Can be created, edited and stored on a variety of platforms and devices because it’s plain text
  • Is a supported format on an increasing number of writing tools and services

I use markdown to:


In the interest of time, I’ll only highlight some of the most commonly used markdown elements:

  • Paragraph
  • Text Emphasis
  • Headings
  • Blockquote
  • List
  • Horizontal Rule
  • Link
  • Image
  • Table
  • Code

Paragraph

  • Begin paragraph text at the left margin.
  • Separate paragraphs from other markdown elements (including other paragraphs) with one or more blank lines.
  • Lines of text within a paragraph are continuous. To separate lines within the same paragraph, add two space characters to the end of the previous line.

Text Emphasis

  • Text emphasis can be inserted inline and does not need to begin at the left margin.
  • Create emphasis by surrounding text with special symbols.

To display text as Bold, surround text in:

  • two consecutive asterisks **
  • two consecutive underscores __

To display text as Italics, surround text in:

  • a single asterisk *
  • a single underscore _

To display text in Bold Italics, surround text in:

  • three consecutive asterisks ***
  • three consecutive underscores ___

To display text as “Strikethrough, surround text in:

  • two consecutive tildas ~~

Heading

  • There are six levels of headings possible in markdown.
  • Begin headings at the left margin.
  • Create a heading by entering the # symbol followed by a space character and the heading text.
  • Enter the number of # symbols per heading level.

Blockquote

  • Begin a blockquote at the left margin.
  • Create a blockquote by entering a > symbol followed by a space character and the blockquote text.
  • Blockquotes can also be nested by entering consecutive > symbols.

List

Markdown supplies both Ordered and Unordered lists.

Ordered List:

  • Begin an ordered list item at the left margin.
  • Enter the list item number followed by a . symbol followed by a space character and the item text. Each list item can also be numbered with 1.and the correct list number will be displayed.
  • Lists can be nested by including a two space character indention.

Unordered List:

  • Begin an unordered list item at the left margin.
  • Type a *, - or + symbol followed by a space character and the item text.
  • Lists can be nested by including a two space character indention.

Horizontal Rule

  • Begin a horizontal rule at the left margin.
  • Create a horizontal rule by entering:
  • … three consecutive underscores ___
  • … three consecutive dashes ---
  • … three consecutive asterisks ***

Links

  • Links can be inserted inline and do not need to begin at the left margin.
  • Add links by entering link text enclosed in [] symbols followed by the full link url enclosed in () symbols.

Example: [Link Text](http://someurl)

Example with link title: [Link Text](http://someurl "Link Title")


Image

  • Images can be inserted inline and do not need to begin at the left margin.
  • Add images by entering a ! symbol followed by the image alt text enclosed in [] symbols followed by the full url of the image enclosed in () symbols.

Example: ![Image Alt Text](http://someimageurl)


Table

  • Begin a table at the left margin.
  • Tables can be created by adding pipe dividers (| symbol) between each table cell.
  • Table Header vs Table Body — separate the table header row from table body rows by adding a row of cells containing dashes.
  • Text Alignment Within Table Column — include colon : symbols within the dash row to define left-aligned, right-aligned, or center-aligned text in table body cells.
  • Inline Markdown — table cell text can include inline markdown such as Links and Text Emphasis (see corresponding elements above).

Code

  • Code snippets can be included in markdown.
  • Inline Code — wrap inline code with back tick ` symbols.
  • Indented Code — indent code blocks with 4 space characters.
  • Fenced Code Blocks — wrap code with back tick``` symbols to create a multi-line block of code.

Originally published on techstreams.github.io

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