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Writing for the web with Microsoft Word is like commuting to work in an 18-wheeler.

It wasn’t designed for the job at hand, and is probably going to get in your way more than help. Merging onto the freeway in a massive truck is going to cause you problems, and so is copying text formatted for the printed page into a web-based form. Things just get messy.

Which is why sites from Reddit to Github now use Markdown as their default formatting option. This is a simple way to format plaintext files, which seems complicated until you learn it. Our guide to learning Markdown Learning Markdown: Write For The Web, Faster Learning Markdown: Write For The Web, Faster Markdown is essentially a syntax language for formatting text as you write. It’s fast, and built for people who write for the web. Read More came with this video tutorial, that outlines how to get started:

You can learn the basics of Markdown with videos Learn The Basics Of Markdown in 10 Minutes With This Video Tutorial Learn The Basics Of Markdown in 10 Minutes With This Video Tutorial If you've heard about markdown but not yet had chance to try it out, this short video should get you up to speed with the language that makes creating content for the web easy. Read More , but it’s much easier to retain something you’ve done yourself than something you’ve seen happen. So let’s get into some tools that help you learn, and then use, Markdown.

Markdown Tutorial (Web): Learn to Do by Doing

If you want to learn Markdown, this is the first site you should check out. Not only does it explain how Markdown works in plain English, it also gives you a chance to immediately try out the things you’ve learned. Follow the instructions and you’ll continue to the next step.

markdown-tutorial

Work through this and you’ll have a basic understanding of everything Markdown can do, and just a little bit of experience of actually using it. It will also get you used to the left-side-raw, right-side-preview mindset most Markdown editors use.

Speaking of that, let’s get you writing with an editor.

Fiddle.md (Web): Google Docs for Markdown

Once you’ve worked through that tutorial I suggest you start doing some writing. Fiddle.md is a web-based Markdown editor, and I suggest you start with it because of how straight-forward it is.

fiddle-fm-markdown-preview

You’ll write on the left, and see a preview of your work on the right. You can hide the preview, or the editor, if you like. Sharing the document with someone else is as easy as sharing the URL – if they make changes they can share another URL with you. So this isn’t a tool for realtime collaboration, but it can be useful for quickly sharing something you’re working on. You can also download files to your disk, or save them directly to Dropbox.

Overall it’s a great tool for getting used to Markdown, and probably the nicest web-based editor I’ve found.

MarkdownPad: The Best Windows Markdown Editor

Web-based clients are nice, but if you’re a Windows user you probably want to quickly save files locally and do your work outside the browser. I really recommend MarkdownPad for this, because it looks and works great.

markdownpad-windows-editor

The color highlighting in the editing pane is really useful, as are the tabs for working on multiple documents at once. And you can customize everything so it works exactly the way you want it to.

It’s a Windows-only Markdown client in a world where Macs seem to get all the attention, but it’s by no means second rate. (And it’s made by Evan Wondrasek, who once upon a time wrote for this very site.)

Typora (Mac): Beautiful, Single-Pane Markdown Editor for Mac

Mou is the gold standard for Mac Markdown editors Learn Markdown Using Mac Text Editor Mou Learn Markdown Using Mac Text Editor Mou What is Markdown? Why is it useful and how do you learn it? If you're looking for a way to get to grips with Markdown on your Mac, Mou is the answer. Read More , and for good reason: it’s a no-nonsense solution that stays out of your way. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for interesting apps, and Typora is fascinating. Instead of the usual two-pane interface seen above, Typora merges Markdown with preview. I like it so much that I’m writing this very article with it, as we speak.

typora-editor

Markdown is rendered in realtime, meaning anything you’re not currently writing is formatted, and the distracting syntax is hidden. Move your cursor back to that text, however, and the Markdown reveals itself so you can make changes.

It’s like nothing I’ve seen before, and there are a few bugs remaining in the open beta, but there’s a good chance this could become your favorite Markdown editor once you get used to it.

Mark It Down: Convert Rich Text to Markdown

Copying a chunk of text from the web, complete with formatting, can be a problem if you plan to paste into a Markdown editor. Mark It Down is a simple web app that helps by converting HTLM into Markdown, so you can paste it into your editor without losing anything.

mark-it-down

It’s simple, but can save you a lot of time, so keep this one bookmarked.

What Markdown Tools Do You Love?

Before you hop to the comments, Linux users, I haven’t forgotten you: it’s just that this column focuses on things MakeUseOf hasn’t reviewed yet, and we outlined 3 solid Markdown editors for Linux users Looking For A Markdown Editor For Linux? Try These 3 Solid Options Looking For A Markdown Editor For Linux? Try These 3 Solid Options Windows and Mac users have many Markdown editors to choose from, Linux users, less so. Here are some choices. Read More over the summer. Check them out! We’ve also outlined some markdown editors that play nice with Google Drive 6 Markdown Editors That Play Nice With Google Drive 6 Markdown Editors That Play Nice With Google Drive Markdown is the text editing format of the future. It's simpler, sleeker, and easier to use than HTML without sacrificing much power or flexibility. Read More , in case you’re interested.

But even with those links, I’m sure there are some absolutely wonderful tools that we’ve missed – and I really want to know about them.

So please: share your favorite tools for learning and using Markdown in the comments below.

  1. Kevin
    November 14, 2015 at 4:49 pm

    I use Markdown frequently: at home and at work.

    For offline use, MarkdownPad2 is awesome. Perhaps my second choice is Haroopad. However, the nag for $ that pops up inside Haroopad is annoying, and so far, MarkdownPad2 has worked flawlessly and without nag pop-ups.

    Online, I use two different editors, mostly at work. I only use them for general, non-proprietary info, but markdown is so quick and easy, and makes a necessarily long email more easily read with nice formatting. Simply copy and paste from the VIEW-panel into the email client. The two online editors are Markable.in, and StackEdit.

    I make a choice of which online editor to use based on how they display after I paste into MS Outlook. They appear differently at paste-time, but I kind of like that: more variety of presentation. One example is the use of quotes. Quotes are setup with the right-angle key, >. When pasting the output into Outlook, sometimes what I copied is how the quote appears in Outlook. Other times, depending on which editor I've chosen, the quote will still be visibly different than the rest of text, but the paste will appear differently than what was copied.

    Thanks for a great article,
    Kevin

  2. Mike Ward
    November 14, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Markdown Edit is a new Windows Markdown editor. It has an emphasis on content and keyboard shortcuts, loads fast and presents minimal distractions. http://markdownedit.com

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