MacDown logoWhat is Markdown?

Markdown is a text-based code language that converts easily to HTML or XHTML. It is easy to read, easy to learn, and converts to superior HTML code. If you write or blog, you should try Markdown. I don’t think it will be a try though. I think that you’ll keep using it the rest of your life.

Markdown was created by John Gruber in 2004. His main goal was to make code more readable. Since then, there have been many iterations of Markdown, and it has become somewhat fragmented. Some are working on a standardized Markdown language.

The authority – the pioneer – the inventor – John Grubercheck out his Daring Fireball site.

Reasons you should try Markdown

  • It converts to better code
  • It’s simple to understand
  • It’s simple to read
  • Can be learned in just few minutes
  • You can format text in many apps such as DayOne and Slack
  • Takes up very little storage space
  • Any text editor can open the file
  • It’s free

Some Markdown Basics

Here’s a taste of the simplicity of using Markdown in your writing. Notice that you can keep your hands on the keyboard when you are writing. No need to click on Bold, or Italics, or choose any particular style, such as Header 1. (This entire article is written in Markdown – you can see the Markdown code at the end of the article. Notice how easy it is to read and understand.)

First let’s start with a title – called Header 1:

# This is the title of my story

This is the title of my story

Next a sub-title called Header 2:

## An intriguing story

An intriguing story

And then let’s name our Chapter with a Header 3 tag:

### Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Now the body:

Which is just text. Type away!

Which looks like this: Which is just text. **Type away!** Notice the double asterisks. That makes a bold font. A single asterisk on each side of a word or phrase italicizes the word or phrase.

Here’s how easy it is to make a link to a website:

[Google](http://google.com) is one of the greatest search engines in the world.

Google is one of the greatest search engines in the world.

That’s all there is to it.

That’s some of the basics, but I’ll show you one more example. Then you can start learning this on your own.

Here’s how to insert an image into your article:
It’s the same as the link code, just add an ! in front of the alternate text.

The format is ![alternate text](URL)

![Macdown is the program I use to write Markdown](http://macdown.uranusjr.com/static/base/img/logo.png)

Macdown is the program I use to write Markdown

There are many Markdown apps on the market. I use a free open source app for the Mac (OS X) called Macdown which suits my purposes fine. Another one is called Mou. And here’s one for the PC called MarkdownPad.

If you are using the Macdown app, whenever you need a refresher or need to know how to write something, just click on Help>MacDown Help and a cheat sheet will open. This is a great way to learn.

Here’s another simple way to learn Markdown.

David Sparks wrote an excellent Markdown Field Guide called [Md].

Click here to see this article as it is written in Markdown.

Please leave a comment and tell us how you use MarkDown. What’s your favorite Markdown app? Do you have Markdown shortcuts?