Markdown is a simple syntax that formats text as headings, lists, bold, etc. This markup language is popular and you probably have applications that support it. Here is a short example of what Markdown is and how and where you can use it.

What is markdown?

When you add bold, italic, numbered lists, bullets, headings, etc. to text, you are «formatting» it. Markdown is a syntax or set of rules that formats text on web pages.

Traditionally, people have used Hypertext Markup Language, better known as HTML, to format text on web pages. HTML is one of a family of markup languages, along with Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML).

To format text with HTML, you place tags around the text. For example, if you want to highlight bold text, type « it’s some bold text «.

When your web browser «reads» a web page, it interprets the HTML tags and applies the appropriate formatting. When he sees it’s some bold text ”, he understands that everything between the tags and should stand out in bold . The browser also hides tags ( and ).

The HTML can be quite complex, with dozens and dozens of tags such as ,

, ,

    and many others. Computers have no problem reading them because they simply follow the syntax (the rules of HTML) and apply formatting appropriate for the tags.

However, tags make it harder for humans to read HTML and understand what text will look like after a computer renders it. It's not very "convenient" for people who don't have much reading experience.

RELATED: How to View HTML Source in Google Chrome

Markdown, on the other hand, is designed to "be as easy to read and write as possible". John Gruber and Aaron Schwartz explain why they created Markdown in 2004 and provide guidance on Gruber's syntax. website .

In short, Markdown simplifies text formatting for web pages because its tags are simpler than HTML and they are automatically converted to HTML. This means that you don't need to know HTML to write something for a web page because Markdown translates your tags into HTML for you.

It does not cover all possible HTML tags, but rather the most common formatting options.

How do you use markdown?

To use Markdown, you simply apply simple tags to your text. For example, to format text in italics, you underline it like this: _this is text in italics_.

Here are some other Markdown formatting examples from the Syntax Guide:


# This is H1

## This is H2

###### This is H6

bullet holes

* Red
* Green
* Blue

Numbered Lists

1. Bird
2. McHale
3. Arrival



Markdown converts *bold* and _italics_ to HTML tag which theoretically can be interpreted in different ways. For example, you can create an application that interprets the tag as flashing red text. In practice, however, almost every application (including every web browser) interprets it as *bold* and _talics_.

There are also variants of Markdown such as CommonMark and GitHub Flavored Markdown (GFM), but they are all based on the original Markdown specification. Variants usually just extend the standard by adding formatting tags that the original Markdown doesn't cover.

After you format your text, the application must convert it to HTML, which is usually done automatically. For example, README files on GitHub use Markdown, and if they have a .MD extension, GitHub will automatically convert them to the correct HTML tags when they are published.

So in most cases you won't have to do it yourself, but if you do, there's a markdown tool.

CONNECTED: What is GitHub and what is it used for?

Where can you use markdown?

As we mentioned above, you can use Markdown on GitHub as well as Reddit, StackOverflow, and other websites. If you've ever formatted text in WhatsApp messages or Slack conversations, you've already used it because those apps use a (very small) subset of Markdown tags to format text.

If you want to learn Markdown, check out the original Markdown Syntax Guide or a third-party learning site. It's easy to learn and will make your README files and Reddit or StackOverflow comments easier to read.