Getting to know Markdown

Markdown is a lightweight markup language with many advantages, and it’s growing in popularity among writers, editors, etc. Now, don’t be fooled by “markup” and “language” – Markdown has a very straightforward syntax. Compared to the long, laborious HTML tags, Markdown is truly lightweight and has a shallow learning curve. Once you’re familiar with its syntax,

Here’s a quick example of Markdown in action:

The *quick* brown fox, jumped **over** the lazy [dog](


The quick brown fox, jumped over the lazy dog.

Markdown = Awesome

  • You can concentrate on writing instead of formatting.
  • When it finally comes to formatting, Markdown allows you to keep your fingers planted on the keyboard as you apply formatting.
  • You can easily convert your .md document to HTML, PDF, ePub …
  • Markdown deals with plain text, which means it’s compatible with all editors.
  • Straightforward, super readable, shallow learning curve.

Basic Markdown Formatting

Ok! You are sold. Now let’s dive in:


This is perhaps the most common element you’ll use, and in most modern text editors, this is what has to be done: enter the text, select the text, change the style to heading.

That’s rather complicated. In Markdown, just add # in front! The number of hashes indicate the level of the heading.

\# Heading 1
\## Heading 2
\### Heading 3


Lists are incredibly easy to manage in Markdown. To create an unordered list, just add a * or a - or a + as a prefix. For example:

* Markdown is cool
* I love Markdown
* This list is awesome


  • Markdown is cool
  • I love Markdown
  • This list is awesome

To create an ordered list, add the numbers 1. 2. 3. and you’re good to go. For example:

1. Lists
2. Are
3. Fun


  1. Lists
  2. Are
  3. Fun

In Markdown, you don’t need any buttons to create inline links.

[This is a link to Google]( "Google")

This is a link to Google

If you fancy making reference links, you could do this:

This line has [a link][1] and [another link][2]


to get something like this:

This line has a link and another link


Images are really similar to links, except that you need to add a ! before the links. The syntax goes like this:

![Alt](/images/social_icons/email.svg "Title")

and becomes:



We often need quotes as a proof or example whenever we are writing, and that’s when this element comes in handy. In Markdown, all you’ve got to do is add > before the text you’re about to quote, like this:

> To be or not to be, that is the question.

which would turn out like this:

To be or not to be, that is the question.

Bold and Italic

So easy with Markdown.

**Some bold text here** => Some bold text here

*Some italic text here* => Some italic text here

Code blocks

Did you know Markdown comes with syntax highlighting? Well, just put ``` (3 backticks) before and after your code! How simple is that?

// # Notifications API
// RESTful API for creating notifications
var Promise            = require('bluebird'),  
    _                  = require('lodash'),
    canThis            = require('../permissions').canThis,
    errors             = require('../errors'),
    utils              = require('./utils'),

    // Holds the persistent notifications
    notificationsStore = [],
    // Holds the last used id
    notificationCounter = 0,

What next?

Why not write something with Markdown right now?! If there’s anything else you are not sure, or if you want to learn other more advanced Markdown syntax, check out this Markdown Quick Reference by Wordpress.

Hey, kudos for making it this far! Wanted to let you know that if you liked this, you might also like tmux Cheatsheet and Shortcuts.


I'm Bobby Yan, a programmer, music lover, researcher, and a third-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley majoring in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. I am currently doing research on robotics, planning, and systems for machine learning at RISELab. In the past, I built IB Notes, a website with useful and concise study guides and notes for IB, and Spanish Vocab Builder, an iOS app to help Spanish learners. See my résumé for more details.

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