If you’re a geek, you may have heard of Markdown. What is it? Markdown is a format that you use to write text that can then be converted to valid HTML. The hallmark of Markdown is that it is easy to read and to write.

For more on Markdown, check out our look at two apps that support it natively, WriteMonkey for Windows, and nvALT for Mac.




The best way to understand Markdown is to look at some examples.

What you type in Markdown HTML output
_italic_ italic
__underline__ underline
[link text]( link text
> This paragraph is indented (an indented paragraph)


These are some of the more basic examples. For full formatting instructions, check out the syntax guide of John Gruber, Apple fan and creator of Markdown.


Why Use Markdown?

Why should you use Markdown? A few reasons come to mind.

  • Markdown is clean and easy to read.
  • Markdown is actually sort of fun, at least compared to writing out HTML.
  • Valid HTML. I’ll take their word for it, but I’ve heard programmers say that blogging software and other editors can butcher HTML, and leave you with invalid HTML. Markdown gives you valid HTML.
  • Convenience: You can use it anywhere. While apps such as Live Writer (Windows) or MarsEdit (Mac) are pretty easy to use, and perform HTML formatting behind the scenes, you can use Markdown anywhere that you have a text editor. You can then copy that text over to a Markdown-ready machine or app, and you’ve got valid HTML.


How to Set Up Markdown

There are a few ways you can convert your Markdown text to HTML. One method involves installing a Python converter on your system. Easier yet is to install a text editor with Markdown support. Over the next two days, we’ll cover both a Windows option and a Mac option. If you’d rather not install anything on your system, you can try Gruber’s onlne tool, Dingus.

Any Markdown fans out there?