The Quick Guide to Markdown
Want to format text? It’s insanely easy in most word processors, email apps, and anywhere else you'd type formatted text today. You type text, select it, then tap the B icon to make it bold or the i to italicize it. Need a list? There's a ☰ button for that, too.
So you're good.
That is unless you want to format plain text. Then you'll need a bit more to make your plain text less plain. You need Markdown.
Over a century after the typewriter turned handwriting into precise characters, we've collectively found the symbols and characters that work best to format plain text. That's Markdown in a nutshell—it's a simple way to format text using symbols, similar to the way you'd use symbols to add character to a typewritten document.
How to Write in Markdown
You write text as normal, then add special characters before (and sometimes after) the word or phrase to format them. Wrap a word in
_underscores_ to italicize it, for instance; add two
## hashtags before a phrase to make it an H2-sized title.
Here are the most common Markdown formatting characters you'll use:
__two underscores__on each side of the word or phrase
_one underscore_on each side of the word or phrase
- Heading: a
# hashtag and spacebefore the line of text to mark it as an H1 heading; add additional hashtags for each H number you want, e.g.
- Quote: a
> quote mark and spacebefore the paragraph or sentence you want to mark as a quotation
- Link: a
[bracket around the text](https://and_parenthesis_around_the_link.com/)to link text
- Image: an
![exclamation mark before the bracket then a bracket around the alt text](https://and_a_link_to_the_image.com/)to embed a link in a document
- Unordered list: a
- dash and spaceor
* asterisk and spacebefore each point you want in a bulleted list
- Ordered list: a
1. number and spacebefore each point you want in a numbered list, using sequential numbers
- Code: a
`\backtick``` before and after the code block, or a tab before each line of the code
- Line Break: three or more asterisks like
***in their own line
That's the basics. Markdown is simple and doesn't clutter your document much. As John Gruber said in Markdown's original documentation, “Markdown is intended to be as easy-to-read and easy-to-write as is feasible.”
It does pretty well at keeping that promise.
That’s all you need to start formatting text with Markdown. You can find more details in the Markdown documentation if you want to get fancy and add tables and footnotes and more.
For now, though, practice makes perfect. Start formatting your text with
# hashtags and it'll quickly become second nature.
Thoughts? @reply me on Twitter.