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A Brief Look at Markdown

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 2:04 PM on August 21, 2011

I have never liked using HTML, I know it’s necessary but I find using it annoying. Editing a post with a lot HTML in it is even worse. It is hard to separate the code from the actual text. I had been looking for something easier for awhile when I stumbled across a post by John Gruber on Daring Fireball about a thing called Markdown. Markdown does two things it allows you to write in plain text and then using a software tool written in Pearl it then converts that plain text into to HTML. I don’t know exactly how it works but it does. In fact when I first stared using it I thought for sure I was missing something, but I wasn’t.

# Some Examples

To write an unordered list in Markdown simply write * space and then the word.

* Links
* Bold
* Italicize
* Images
* Headers

If you  want to do a numbered list do the number then a period, then a space and the word. If you want to make something bold just surround it by two * as in **Puppies** are great. To italicize a word surround it by one * as in *Kittens* are cute. To do a link you do [the word or phrase you are linking](the link) as in this post is about [Markdown](http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/).
These are is just a few example of  the use of Markdown.

Using a Markdown enabled text editor the above paragraph becomes

Some Examples (a header)

To write a list in Markdown simply write * then space then the word

  • Links
  • Bold
  • Italicize
  • Images
  • Headers

If  you want to do a numbered list do the number then a period, then a space and the word.
If you want to make something bold just surround it by two * as in Puppies are great. To italicize a word surround it by one * as in Kittens are cute. To do a link you do [the word or phrase you are linking](the link) as in this post is about Markdown .  These are is just a few example of the uses of Markdown. If you want to do an image you do ![name of image](image url).

If you are interested in learning more about Markdown I would start with John Gruber’s post on Daring Fireball. The blog Practically Efficient also has some great post about Markdown.  Katie Floyd and David Sparks of the Mac Power Users did a whole podcast on it. Some Markdown enabled text editors that are on the iPad include Plain Text, Nebulous, Elements among others. On the Mac itself you can use Scrivener, Byword, TextMate (with bundle) and BBEdit just to name a few. I am not a Windows user so I am not as familiar with the available text editors, I do know Markdown works with Sublime. If you are a Linux user you may want to try Writr, although I am sure there are other options. You can also use Markdown within blogging software like WordPress, (with a plugin) and also SquareSpace. If you want to do more complicated text editing and include things like footnotes, tables, citations in addition to various output formats then try MultiMarkdown which is a superset of Markdown. If you do a lot of writing that involves the use of HTML, then I recommend trying Markdown. If you have trouble remembering the various Markdown codes you can download a cheat sheet from Dashkard

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