Markdown Markup Language

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Markup Syntax

Markup uses simple Markdown-like character delimiter syntax with custom extensions. There are four types of elements:

Drag and drop markdown and HTML files into Dillinger Export documents as Markdown, HTML and PDF Markdown is a lightweight markup language based on the.

  • Single line elements format a line of text such as creating a heading.

  • Multiline elements format multiple lines of text such as creating lists or callouts.

  • Span elements format a span of characters such as adding emphasis.

  • Link elements add text based links such as a mailto, or inline assets such as images.

Single Line Elements

  • Markdown is a simple syntax that formats text as headers, lists, boldface, and so on. This markup language is popular, and you definitely have apps that support it. Here’s a quick primer on what Markdown is, and how and where you can use it.
  • Markdown is a simple markup language that's been gaining popularity for use with API Documentation. Several tools are available that can convert Markdown into HTML so that it can be displayed in browsers. These include Swagger, RAML, and and we’ll look at each later.

Single line elements use an opening delimiter, followed by at least one space and then the content.

Single line elements follow these rules:

  • The delimiter is the first non-whitespace character on the line.

  • There is at least one space between the delimiter and the content.

  • Extra whitespace between the delimiter and content is ignored.

  • The delimiter and all of the content are be terminated by a newlin.

For example, both of the following lines of markup render as the same second level heading as shown in Figure 4-1.

  1. //: ## Second Level Heading
  2. //: ## Second Level Heading


Headings have an alternative syntax using a delimiter on the line below the content. For more information, see Headings.

Link Elements

Link elements define a link name and a link target. The link name is entered between an opening square bracket ([) and a closing square bracket (]). Asset links start with an exclamation mark (!) before the opening square bracket. The target specification for the link element is usually between an opening parentheses (() and a closing parentheses ()). Link Reference delimiters use a colon (:) followed by the target specification instead of parentheses.

Link elements follow these rules:

  • The link element can appear anywhere on a line.

  • The delimiter and all of the content is on one line terminated by a newline.

Example: A URL Link

Markdown Markup Language Meaning

The following markup renders as a link to The link shows as clickable blue text in the rendered documentation, as shown in Figure 4-2.

  1. //: Find more information for [Swift](

Example: An Inline Image

This markup renders the image content of the link centered on the line after the word cat. The rest of the content is rendered on a line following the image as shown in Figure 4-3.

  1. //: Meet Swiftie the cat ![Swiftie the cat](cat.png) the real boss.

Multiline Elements

Multiline elements such as lists and callouts use an opening delimiter, followed by at least one space and then the content. The block of content continues until meeting a termination condition.

Multiline elements follow these rules:

  • The delimiter is the first non-whitespace character on the line.

  • There is at least one space between the delimiter and the content.

  • Extra whitespace between the delimiter and content is ignored.

  • A single newline followed by text wraps the text to the previous line.

  • A single empty line followed by text inserts the text as a new paragraph.

The delimiter formats all text until one of the following termination conditions:

  • Two or more consecutive empty lines

  • A different line or multiline delimiter at the same level of nesting.

Nesting Delimiters

The nesting level of a multiline element increases for each set of four spaces or each tab preceding the opening delimiter.

Use nesting to:

  • Increase the indent level of a list

  • Add nested single line elements such as headings or horizontal rules

  • Add a Code Block

To add contiguous lines of nesting, add the same number of initial spaces or tabs on each line that starts with a delimiter. Empty lines do not need to be indented.

Example: A Simple Bulleted List

The following markup renders in Quick Help as a bulleted list with two items as shown in Figure 4-4.


Example: Text Wrapping

The markup below renders as a single numbered list item as shown in Figure 4-5.

  1. /*:
  2. 1. This renders as
  3. one line in
  4. a numbered list
  5. */

Example: Inserting a Paragraph

This markup renders Line 4 as the second paragraph in the first bullet point as shown in Figure 4-6. The content for every paragraph is indented to the same level as the containing delimiter.

Markdown Markup Language
  1. /**
  2. * A bullet item
  3. With two paragraphs
  4. * The next bullet item
  5. */

Example: Terminating a Callout Using Two Empty Lines

The markup below renders as two different lists as shown in Figure 4-7. The first list is terminated by the two consecutive empty lines on lines 4 and 5 of the markup.

  1. /*:
  2. 1. First list, item 1
  3. 1. First list, item 2
  4. 1. Second list, item 1
  5. */

Example: Terminating a List with a Different Delimiter

This markup renders as two different lists, each with its own heading as shown in Figure 4-8. The heading delimiter on line 5 terminates the first list.

  1. /*:
  2. ### List A
  3. 1. Item 1, List A
  4. 1. Item 2, List A
  5. ### List B
  6. 1. Item 1, List B
  7. */

Example: Nesting Delimiters

This markup contains three kinds of nesting as seen in Figure 4-9.

  1. The nested list is a result of adding four spaces before the delimiters for each list item on lines 3 and 8.

  2. The nested code block is a result of indenting lines 5 and 6 by twelve spaces, or two levels of indentation from the enclosing delimiter.

  3. The nested horizontal rule is a result of indenting line 7 by eight spaces or one level of indentation from the enclosing delimiter. For more information on code blocks, see Code Block.

  1. /**
  2. 1. Level 1, Item 1
  3. 1. Level 2, Item 1
  4. func emptyFunc() {
  5. }
  6. - - -
  7. 1. Level 2, Item 2
  8. 1. Level 1, Item 2
  9. */

Span Elements

Span elements use the same delimiter at the start and end of the character span.

Span elements follow these rules:

  • The opening delimiter can appear anywhere on a line.

  • There is no space between the opening delimiter and the first character of the span.

  • There is no space between the first character and the closing delimiter of the span.

  • A single newline in the middle of a span is ignored and the text is wrapped to the first line.

  • Span elements can be combined.

Example: Ignoring Whitespace

The following markup results in one line of text as shown in Figure 4-10.

Example: Combining Elements

This markup shows adding the delimiters for a span of bold characters inside the delimiters for a span with emphasis. The rendered result adds both emphasis and bold to inside other as seen in Figure 4-11.

  1. //: Span elements *nest **inside other** span* elements

Ignoring Single Newlines

Single newlines inside most line and text formatting delimiters are ignored as is whitespace at the end of a line.

For example, the following code ignores the newline at the end of Line 1, resulting in a single line of text with the words on one line rendered using the emphasis style. Adding whitespace at the end of the first line does not add spaces between the words on and one.

Markdown vs markup language

Exception: Links

Markup for textual links and media assets is on a single line of text that ends in a newline. The delimiter and arguments are treated as plain text if they span multiple lines.

Delimiters for textual links begin with an open square bracket ([). Delimiters for media assets begin with an exclamation mark followed by an open square bracket (![).

For example, in the markup below the delimiter and arguments for specifying an inline video player span lines 2 and 3. All three lines are treated as plain text and wrapped together into one rendered line of text as shown in Figure 4-12.

  1. //: Watch the WWDC session introducing the San Francisco Font
  2. //: ![San Francisco font introduction]
  3. //: (new-fonts.mp4)

Combining all the lines into one line shows the video player.

Copyright © 2018 Apple Inc. All rights reserved. Terms of Use Privacy Policy Updated: 2017-06-05


Markdown 1.0.1 (18 KB) — 17 Dec 2004


Markdown is a text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers. Markdownallows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain textformat, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML).

Thus, “Markdown” is two things: (1) a plain text formatting syntax;and (2) a software tool, written in Perl, that converts the plain textformatting to HTML. See the Syntax page for details pertaining toMarkdown’s formatting syntax. You can try it out, right now, using theonline Dingus.

The overriding design goal for Markdown’s formatting syntax is to makeit as readable as possible. The idea is that a Markdown-formatteddocument should be publishable as-is, as plain text, without lookinglike it’s been marked up with tags or formatting instructions. WhileMarkdown’s syntax has been influenced by several existing text-to-HTMLfilters, the single biggest source of inspiration for Markdown’ssyntax is the format of plain text email.

The best way to get a feel for Markdown’s formatting syntax is simplyto look at a Markdown-formatted document. For example, you can viewthe Markdown source for the article text on this page here:

(You can use this ‘.text’ suffix trick to view the Markdown source forthe content of each of the pages in this section, e.g. theSyntax and License pages.)

Markdown is free software, available under a BSD-style open sourcelicense. See the License page for more information.

Discussion List

I’ve set up a public mailing list for discussion about Markdown.Any topic related to Markdown — both its formatting syntax andits software — is fair game for discussion. Anyone who is interestedis welcome to join.

It’s my hope that the mailing list will lead to good ideas for futureimprovements to Markdown.

Md Language

Markdown Markup Language

Installation and Requirements

Markdown requires Perl 5.6.0 or later. Welcome to the 21st Century.Markdown also requires the standard Perl library module Digest::MD5, which is probably already installed on your server.

Movable Type

Markdown works with Movable Type version 2.6 or later (includingMovable Type 3.0).

  1. Copy the “” file into your Movable Type “plugins”directory. The “plugins” directory should be in the same directoryas “mt.cgi”; if the “plugins” directory doesn’t already exist, useyour FTP program to create it. Your installation should look likethis:

  2. Once installed, Markdown will appear as an option in Movable Type’sText Formatting pop-up menu. This is selectable on a per-post basis:

    Markdown translates your posts to HTML when you publish; the poststhemselves are stored in your MT database in Markdown format.

  3. If you also install SmartyPants 1.5 (or later), Markdown willoffer a second text formatting option: “Markdown WithSmartyPants”. This option is the same as the regular “Markdown”formatter, except that it automatically uses SmartyPants to createtypographically correct curly quotes, em-dashes, and ellipses. Seethe SmartyPants web page for more information.

  4. To make Markdown (or “Markdown With SmartyPants”) your defaulttext formatting option for new posts, go to Weblog Config:Preferences.

Note that by default, Markdown produces XHTML output. To configureMarkdown to produce HTML 4 output, see “Configuration”, below.


Markdown works with Blosxom version 2.0 or later.

  1. Rename the “” plug-in to “Markdown” (case isimportant). Movable Type requires plug-ins to have a “.pl”extension; Blosxom forbids it.

  2. Copy the “Markdown” plug-in file to your Blosxom plug-ins folder.If you’re not sure where your Blosxom plug-ins folder is, see theBlosxom documentation for information.

  3. That’s it. The entries in your weblog will now automatically beprocessed by Markdown.

  4. If you’d like to apply Markdown formatting only to certainposts, rather than all of them, Markdown can optionally be used inconjunction with Blosxom’s Meta plug-in. First, install theMeta plug-in. Next, open the Markdown plug-in file in a texteditor, and set the configuration variable $g_blosxom_use_metato 1. Then, simply include a “meta-markup: Markdown” header lineat the top of each post you compose using Markdown.


Markdown works with BBEdit 6.1 or later on Mac OS X. It also workswith BBEdit 5.1 or later and MacPerl 5.6.1 on Mac OS 8.6 or later. Ifyou’re running Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar), you may need to install thePerl module Digest::MD5 from CPAN; Digest::MD5 comespre-installed on Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther).

  1. Copy the “” file to appropriate filters folder in your“BBEdit Support” folder. On Mac OS X, this should be:

    See the BBEdit documentation for more details on the location ofthese folders.

    You can rename “” to whatever you wish.

  2. That’s it. To use Markdown, select some text in a BBEdit document,then choose Markdown from the Filters sub-menu in the “#!” menu, orthe Filters floating palette


By default, Markdown produces XHTML output for tags with empty elements.E.g.:

Markdown can be configured to produce HTML-style tags; e.g.:

Movable Type

You need to use a special MTMarkdownOptions container tag in eachMovable Type template where you want HTML 4-style output:

The easiest way to use MTMarkdownOptions is probably to put theopening tag right after your <body> tag, and the closing tag rightbefore </body>.

To suppress Markdown processing in a particular template, i.e. topublish the raw Markdown-formatted text without translation into(X)HTML, set the output attribute to ‘raw’:

Markdown Markup Language


Wiki Vs Markdown


Use the --html4tags command-line switch to produce HTML output from aUnix-style command line. E.g.:

Type perldoc, or read the POD documentation within source code for more information.


Aaron Swartz deserves a tremendous amount of credit for his feedback on thedesign of Markdown’s formatting syntax. Markdown is much better thanksto Aaron’s ideas, feedback, and testing. Also, Aaron’s html2textis a very handy (and free) utility for turning HTML intoMarkdown-formatted plain text.

Nathaniel Irons, Dan Benjamin, Daniel Bogan, and Jason Perkinsalso deserve thanks for their feedback.

Michel Fortin has ported Markdown to PHP; it’s a splendid port, and highly recommended for anyone looking for a PHP implementation of Markdown.