How to Make Episode Notes Look Good in Podcast Apps
The difference between the episode summary and episode notes and how to easily format your text with Markdown
I got a question this week from Kirill of the Rad Dad podcast:
What’s the difference between episode summary and show notes? Could you provide some guidance as to where those go, and how to update them best?
That is a great question. In this article, I’ll show you:
- What an episode summary is and what it looks like in podcast apps
- What episode notes (also called show notes) are and what they look like in podcast apps
- How to add lists and hyperlinks and other formatting to your episode notes with Markdown
I’ll also provide you with an free episode notes template that you can download and customize for your show.
Let’s dive in.
1. The Episode Summary
The episode summary is a brief description of your episode that shows up in Apple Podcasts and other apps. This is your chance to convince someone to listen to your episode, so keep it short and interesting. The first few sentences are especially important.
This is what you’ll see inside your Simplecast dashboard when you create a new episode:
You aren’t able to do any special formatting to your episode summary, so keep it plain text. Here’s how the episode summary looks in a few apps:
2. Episode Notes
Your episode notes can contain your episode summary in addition to other information that you’d like to include about the episode, your show, or what you’d like your visitors to do next.
I usually provide additional information about the topic discussed in the episode, along with a list of links to anything mentioned in the episode that listeners might want to check out while listening.
Bonus: I’ve started adding MP3 chapters to a few of the shows I edit/produce. If you’re interested in adding time stamps and images to your episode’s MP3 file, I wrote about that process here.
Formatting your text
You can add special formatting to your episode notes, like hyperlinks, bold and italic text, and lists. Here’s what formatted episode notes look like in a few different apps:
3. Using Markdown to quickly and easily create formatted episode notes for your podcast
Markdown is a way to format your text without having to write HTML code. It’s especially useful for podcast producers because there are apps/websites that can quickly turn text formatted with Markdown into HTML.
Simplecast supports Markdown formatted text inside of the Episode Notes field, and this will allow you to easily create episode notes with bold and italic text, hyperlinks, and lists, all without needing to know how to write HTML.
- To create a hyperlink, simply surround your text with square brackets (e.g., [like this]), then add the URL inside of a pair of parentheses (www.website.com) right next to it.
- To bold some text, place two asterisks **on either side of the text**.
- To italicize some text, place a single asterisks *on either side of the text*.
For every episode I produce, I end up with a plain text document that looks something like this:
When I paste that Markdown into episode notes field in Simplecast, it automatically gets converted to HTML before it goes out to Apple Podcasts and the other podcast players.
So it ends up looking like this:
Another benefit to writing your show notes this way is that you can use almost any text editing app (I keep plain text files in a folder in Dropbox), and you won’t have to worry about losing your work if you accidentally close your browser window.
If you have a website separate from your Simplecast hosted site for your podcast, you can also paste the Markdown there, or convert your Markdown to HTML quickly yourself (either with your text editor or this website).
Here are some free resources to help you get started with show notes and Markdown:
- Online Markdown tutorial
- Typora (a beautiful free text editor for Mac that I use for all my first drafts)
- Free Episode Notes Template (Download this text file and customize a copy and use it for your show if you’d like)