Mastering Markdown: 30 Resources, Apps and Tutorials to Get You Started

by on 23rd August 2011 with 9 Comments

If you’re like me, learning Markdown has been on your todo list for months. I finally took the plunge and instantly became addicted to sorting through the wealth of resources, apps and other Markdown related materials available.

The following is a collection of the best Markdown resources that I’ve found. Whether you’re a complete Markdown newbie looking to learn the syntax or a seasoned expert in the market for a new iPad app, you’ll find something here that’s perfect for your needs.

What Is Markdown?

Markdown is a markup language that was created by John Gruber to simplify the workflow of web writers. Many bloggers, like myself, usually write our posts in straight HTML, which can be cumbersome and difficult to read through. Markdown provides a much simpler and easier to read alternative that can easily and instantly be converted to HTML using any number of free tools.

If you’re a writer and you constantly use HTML, Markdown is for you. If not, you might just find it to be absolutely useless. I personally really like the syntax and find it to be quite intuitive. Take a look at the resources below and see what you think!

Learning Resources

Markdown

Here’s the gist on Markdown straight from the source. Gruber introduces the concept, outlines its use and syntax and even provides a Pearl plugin that works with Movable Type, Blosxom, and BBEdit.

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Slekx Interactive Tutorial

Normal tutorials are boring, check out this interactive tutorial and you’ll pick up the Markdown Syntax in no time. You will be editing the actual text of the tutorial, adding Markdown elements as you learn them. Markup elements are reused throughout the tutorial in order to ingrain the Markdown that you’re learning.

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Markdown: An Introduction

This is a super short and simple introduction to Markdown without all the fluff. If you have at least a double-digit IQ, you can probably pick up Markdown in under two minutes by browsing through this tutorial.

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Video Markdown Tutorial

If reading makes your eyes sleepy and you prefer a video tutorial, here’s one from Stevan Wing. It’s a really in-depth look that walks you through the concept, syntax and implementation.

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Multimarkdown

MMD is a superset of the Markdown syntax. It adds multiple syntax features (tables, footnotes, and citations, to name a few), in addition to the various output formats listed above (Markdown only creates HTML). Additionally, it builds in “smart” typography for various languages (proper left- and right-sided quotes, for example).

MultiMarkdown Introduction PDF Presentation

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MultiMarkdown Syntax Guide

A GitHub hosted guide to the markup syntax used in the MultiMarkdown system.

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Cheat Sheets

WarpedVisions Markdown cheat sheet

A short sheet of the Markdown, Markdown Extra, and SimpleLink syntax.

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Mashery Markdown Cheat Sheet

This web page contains a bunch of nicely formatted tables that showcase examples of Markdown syntax and the resulting output.

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Squarespace Markdown Syntax Reference

A simple, no frills Markdown reference sheet from Squarespace.

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Ahren Code Markdown Cheatsheet

Instead of a web page, this one comes as a PDF that you can download. As you can see below, it has an interesting dark visual theme.

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Scott Boms Markdown Syntax Cheatsheet

If you didn’t like the dark theme of the previous PDF, here’s one with a much simpler, more typography-driven design.

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Jeremy Stretch’s Markdown Cheat Sheet

A dense but nicely organized cheat sheet perfect for printing as a desk reference.

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Station in the Metro Markdown Syntax Cheat Sheet

A very thorough, two page PDF cheatsheet.

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Mac Apps

Byword

A really nice full-screen text editor with Markdown support. Byword is currently $9.99.

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Marked

Marked opens MultiMarkdown, Markdown, Text or HTML files and previews them as HTML documents. It watches the file for changes, updating the preview any time the file is saved. With a full set of customization options and preview styles, Marked adds an ideal “live” Markdown preview to any text editor. Marked is $2.99.

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Macchiato

Macchiato is a simple plain text editor with a twist. Modeled after TextEdit’s plain text mode, the editor is a chrome-less blank canvas. However, it is built from the ground up for writing Markdown prose—and, as such, it will format Markdown text as you write it. Macchiato will not *parse* your Markdown. Rather, it will *stylize* your Markdown source. Macchiato is $14.99.

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MarkMyWords

MarkMyWords is a powerhouse of functionality for Markdown users. It’s not the prettiest app out there but it’s by far the most fully-featured Markdown client I’ve ever seen. MarkMyWords is $24.99.

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IA Writer

IA Writer is one of the best apps in the full-screen text editor genre. The interface is gorgeously simple and the app has some excellent auto Markdown functionality built in. IA Writer is $9.99.

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nvALT

nvALT is a fork of the original Notational Velocity with some additional features and interface modifications, including MultiMarkdown functionality. nvALT is a free download.

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iOS Apps

Elements (iPhone and iPad)

Elements is a dedicated Markdown and Dropbox powered text editor for iOS. Elements allows you to view, edit and share plain text documents on your iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. All of your data is stored in a folder on your personal Dropbox account so that it’s accessible from any device you have. Elements is $4.99.

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Nocs (iPhone & iPad)

With integration to Dropbox, Markdown, and a text editor, Nocs lets you work with your documents on any iDevice. Nocs is $2.99.

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WritingKit (iPad)

Link to Dropbox. Write Markdown-formatted text. Use your favorite TextExpander snippets. Do quick research to find reference materials. Insert quotes and links into your documents. Upload images to CloudApp. Export your writings as Markdown or HTML files. Do all this and more with this awesome iPad text editor. WritingKit is $4.99

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MarkdownNote (iPad)

MarkdownNote makes it really easy to create notes using Markdown. Using live preview feature, you can preview your Markdown markup syntax to HTML. MarkdownNote is $3.99.

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Windows Apps

Writemonkey

Writemonkey is a free app that’s a lot like Writeroom for Windows. Writemonkey supports Markdown and Textile markup standards.

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Sublime Text

Sublime Text is a powerful Windows text editor with, among many other things, Markdown support. Sublime Text is $59.

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Free Web Apps

Markdown Dingus

The official online Markdown Converter from Daring Fireball. Simply paste in your text and get both the HTML output and a preview. There’s also a handy cheat sheet on the right side of the page.

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Jon Combe Markdown Editor

This is one of my favorite online Markdown editors. It’s nice and simple with just the right amount of options and zero clutter. I love the two window mode that lets you see the HTML preview of your Markdown as you type. You can then download the HTML and/or Markdown versions.

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CtrlShift.net Markdown Editor

Like the previous link, this tool has a two window setup that lets you view the output as you type.

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Hashify

This one is new to me but I already really like it. It updates the preview live as you type like the previous two links but places a much larger visual emphasis on the output with a huge preview. There’s also a tweet button and even a QR code generator for your result, how cool is that?

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Backpager

Yet another two window Markdown Editor with options to preview either source or syntax.

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Alternatives

Markdown fits into a category known as Lightweight markup languages, and it’s by no means the only one. If you’re looking for others, Wikipedia has a stellar feature by feature comparison of all of the popular options such as Markdown, Textile, txt2tags and more.

Conclusion

That concludes our roundup of Markdown resources. If you’re just starting your Markdown journey, bookmark this page as your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know and download.

Leave a comment below and let us know what you think of Markdown. Have you ever tried it? Do you use it frequently? What resources and apps have you found to be helpful?

Comments & Discussion

9 Comments

  • http://www.webdesigncreare.co.uk Kim Ruddock

    Markdown is a great way of streamlining your workflow. If you have a lot of text to type it can be quite cumbersome to type everything out in pure HTML (especially links and items with several attributes). Using markdown makes this task quicker and easier saving you time to focus on other aspects of a project.

  • http://ahren.org/code/ Ravi

    Hello,

    in your section on my PDF Markdown cheat sheet above (http://code.ahren.org/markdown-cheatsheet) you mention the dark theme. I wanted to mention that there is also a lighter version of the same file available for download at the URL above.

    Cheers,
    -ravi

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  • Steve

    Hi,
    You have to add another great little Mac app to write (and export) Markdown and Multimarkdown … MultiMarkdown Composer. A nice app with some interesting features, syntax higlight and Preview.

    And then Mou as well, a free app, as free is FountainPen and Pandock. This last one not only for Mac users.

    cheers,
    S.

  • http://praiadoprea.com Preá

    Hey dude, this article helped me a lot to improve my skill. Thanks

  • Lin Sheng

    Very good resources, Thanks.

    I built a online markdown editor recently named Markable (http://markable.in). It supports realtime preview, auto save, save to dropbox, post to tumblr, etc. It’s in public beta now. Hope you can try it out :-)

    Lin Sheng

  • http://hastilyscribbled.wordpress.com Branden

    This page has all the resources to get anyone started on Markdown. I only recently picked it up (late i know) and i’m hooked!

    I realised that there are no apps featured for Android, is there a lack of them?

    • Katie

      Writer (not to be confused with Write) is a great, free option.

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