Markdown To Website

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When we read texts – whether online, in a newspaper or a printed book – we expect a certain format. Particularly important words are set in bold, a heading stands out from the rest of the test, and a structured list makes the text clearer. We consider this formatting to be obvious – and when we write a text on the PC ourselves, we can usually do so without any problems: from adjusting the font size and adding bullet points to making words bold. Any word processing program offers users a wide range of options for arranging their text.

  1. Feb 24, 2021 Using Markdown formatting, websites, documents, images and videos can be inserted into almost any location. Common examples include content blocks and hint text on fields. In the words of its creator (John Gruber), 'The idea is that a Markdown-formatted document should be publishable as-is, as plain text, without looking like it’s been marked.
  2. MarkdownPad is a full-featured Markdown editor for Windows.
  3. Render collections of R Markdown documents into a website with the rmarkdown::rendersite function. Each.Rmd file becomes a page of the site. Here we build a website from these files available on RStudio Cloud. Each website requires. A file named site.yml, which provides the global YAML header for the site.

If you're creating an information-dense website like documentation or a blog, you're probably considering using Markdown. Most developers are familiar with Markdown from GitHub and other online communities. Markdown allows you to transform plaintext into formatted elements.

But this is by no means a matter of course. Generally, in these situations you mark the text and the software then displays it how you wish. You don’t actually get to see the source text itself, including the markup elements (markers), with Word and similar programs. And if you did, you probably wouldn’t know what to do with it: This code can scarcely be read by people.

Languages like HTML or LaTeX can be written with any text editor, but they aren’t easy for people to decipher. The simplified markup language Markdown seeks to change exactly that. It wants the best of both worlds: to be understandable for both people and machines. Markdown uses self-explanatory elements to format the text. This means the text is relatively easy for people to read.

  1. Markdown tutorial: The right syntax for your documents

What is Markdown used for?

Just like HTML or LaTeX, Markdown is a markup language. In contrast to these examples, however, Markdown aims to be as easy as possible for people to read. Each markup element is closely related to the actual meaning, rather than being abstract. This can be shown most easily with an example: If you want to highlight a word in bold in HTML, you can either use the '<b>' or the '<strong>' tags.

If you write a document in LaTeX, use the element textbf (in continuous text mode).

Although both can be read relatively easily, they are harder to write – particularly when it comes to longer texts. Markdown simplifies this by marking bold passages with asterisks.

On the one hand, this version is easier to read as the asterisks make the bold text clear, and on the other hand, the four characters can be typed much quicker than tags. Even without converting (i.e. in plain text), a reader can easily determine what the author means – even without understanding the Markdown syntax.

This makes Markdown appealing particularly to users who don’t have a background in IT or web design skills, but still want to write texts for the internet regularly : for example, bloggers who work with a content management system (CMS). But even tech-savvy people resort to Markdown for writing simple texts. For instance, some programmers use the Markdown language to write supporting documents (e.g. readme files) that aren’t converted. Whether the user opens the text in a Markdown viewer or reads it in its raw state, there’s barely a difference in terms of readability.

For the most well-known CMSs like WordPress or Joomla, there are plugins that enable systems to understand Markdown. Many wikis, forums (such as reddit), and the website generator Jekyll can also work with the simplified markup language.

Markup languages are not considered to be programming languages. The former are only intended to define how a text is to be structured. Conversely, programming languages are characterized by loops and variables, forming the basis for writing software.

Markdown does not attempt to replace HTML – its creative possibilities are far too limited in any case. The developers of the language instead view Markdown as a complement. It’s possible to insert HTML elements into a Markdown document, thereby expanding the range of the relatively basic language. However, the Markdown language is intended primarily to simplify writing (especially online). When Markdown documents are converted by the parser, documents such as HTML documents are created to enable display in browsers.

The name “Markdown” is a play on words. Although a member of the “markup languages,” the name Markdown makes it clear that it concerns a down-scaled language.

Markdown tutorial: The right syntax for your documents

Since Markdown aims to be as simple a markup language as possible, the Markdown syntax is also virtually self-explanatory. Nonetheless, you first need to familiarize yourself with the markup elements before you can use it. We’ve compiled the most important functions for you.

Bold & italics

Markdown makes it especially easy to create bold and italicized text. Only asterisks are required to this end. To write in italics, add an asterisk before and after the word or words. For bold text, use two asterisks – and if you want a text to be both bold and italicized, three asterisks are necessary. Alternatively, you can use underscores.


In order to create a crossed-out text, use the tilde in Markdown twice in a row, followed by the respective text and then another two tildes.

Text can’t be underlined in Markdown. Although this is possible using the '<u>' tags in HTML, it’s usually inadvisable to do so. That’s because underlined text is used for hyperlinks online and it’s best to avoid confusing the two uses.


To create a heading in Markdown, a pound sign is typically used. It’s inserted with a space before the corresponding text. To create headings that are lower in the hierarchy and thus smaller, extra pound signs are added. This enables up to six levels of headings, just like in HTML.

Some users also insert pound signs after the headings. This can increase the readability but is not technically required. These signs are simply ignored in the conversion process.

Alternatively, equals signs and hyphens can be used to mark headings. These are inserted in the line below the actual heading. This option only allows you to create two different sizes of headings. One sign per heading is plenty, although multiple consecutive signs can often be seen. This is purely based on visual reasons since it looks as if the text is underlined once or twice.


The Markdown language works with hard line breaks to separate paragraphs from each other. To create a completely new block of text (

tag), simply add an empty line. Important note: for Markdown, it’s sufficient if the line is visually empty. So if the line contains white spaces like tabs or spaces, the parser will ignore them and consider the line to be empty. If you want to create a line break like the
tag, add two spaces at the end of a line.


In Markdown, quotes in a certain part of the text are indicated using a blockquote element. The greater-than sign is used for this purpose (>). You have the option to either mark each individual line with this sign or to insert it only at the beginning of the paragraph and to end the indented passage with an empty line. Additional formatting elements are possible in the blockquote element.


To create an unsorted list in Markdown, you can use either the plus sign, the hyphen or an asterisk. All three ways produce the same result.

Conversely, a sorted list is generated by a number directly followed by a period.

Interestingly, the actual number is irrelevant in Markdown. Even if you write “first” three times or start with “third”, the Markdown language will always begin the list with the correct number.

Markdown also gives you the option of creating checklists. These appear with a box that can be activated by clicking on it. You can also add a checkmark when creating the list. To do so, insert square brackets and an X.

It’s important that you remember to leave a space between the square brackets for empty checkboxes. Otherwise, Markdown won’t recognize your text as a list.


To mark a text as code in Markdown, a backtick – also known as an accent grave – is used (not to be confused with a simple quotation mark). The text is marked with a backtick at the start and end of the relevant passage. This enables source code or software commands to be incorporated directly into the running text.

When writing the code, take care not to accidentally insert an accent grave: à. This occurs automatically when you type a vowel after the sign. You can avoid this problem by first pressing the space bar after the backtick and then writing the vowel.

Markdown To Website

If a backtick is used in your code example itself, you can also use the sign twice at the beginning of the code section. In this case, Markdown will not interpret the simple backtick as an instruction.

To mark an entire block as source code, you can either use a tab or four spaces – for each line. You can indent the selected lines further by adding more tabs or spaces.

If you’d prefer to use signs to start and end code blocks, you can also mark the corresponding passage with three backticks at the start and at the end. Here you also have the option – at least with many Markdown editors – to create color highlights automatically. To do so, enter the language of the following source code after the three introductory backticks.

Images & hyperlinks

Markdown can likewise be used to integrate images and hyperlinks in your text. Both are created with a combination of square and round brackets. You can generate a link by placing the anchor text – i.e. the words or phrases visible in the text – in square brackets and inserting the URL in round brackets directly afterwards. If you’d like to give the hyperlink an optional title that the user can see in the mouseover, this is also possible: Enter the text in the round brackets, separated from the URL with a space and put in double quotation marks.

If you want to include a URL or an email address in the normal running text, most Markdown editors automatically create a clickable hyperlink. But to make sure this happens, you can insert a less-than and greater-than sign. To prevent this automatic editor feature, however, you should mark the URL as code and use backticks again.

As with hyperlinks, images can also be added to the Markdown document. To add images, start with an exclamation mark. Afterwards again insert square brackets which contain the alternative text for the image and round brackets with the image URL. This is then directly displayed in the text.

Of course, you can also link to HTML pages or images on your own server. If the current document is located on the same server, relative paths suffice.

Images and hyperlinks can also be combined. To create a clickable link behind an image, you can nest the two functions together. In this case, the image becomes the anchor text and thus appears in the square brackets.


Pipes ( ) allow tables to be drawn in Markdown. Each cell is separated by a pipe. To create the header rows that are visually distinct from the rest of the content, you highlight the corresponding cells with hyphens.

In principle, it’s not important that the pipes are located one below the other. This only increases the readability when the Markdown document is viewed in its raw version. The same applies to pipes located to the side. These are likewise inconsequential for the compiling process.


Markdown gives you the option of inserting footnotes. You can write a reference number in the running text and link to the footnote at the end of the page – a corresponding line is created automatically. The reference number is also formatted as a hyperlink. Clicking on it leads directly to the relevant footnote. To use this automatic function, you should first insert the reference number after the respective word. In square brackets, you first write a circumflex and then the number.

The number you use (other terms are also possible) does not matter. Just like when creating lists, Markdown automatically performs the counting for you. However, it’s important that you correctly link to the reference again for the footnote. Add the same number to a new line with a circumflex in a bracket, insert a colon and then write the actual footnote. It can also be fully formatted and encompass multiple lines.

You can actually add the note anywhere in the text. Markdown will always display it at the end of the document. To close the note and return to the actual running text, insert an empty line.

& and <>

Since Markdown is closely related to HTML, the “and” symbol as well as the less-than and greater-than sign deserve special attention. These signs are used in HTML to open and close tags (<>) or to work with entities (&). But if you want to use the signs for their original purpose, they have to be masked in HTML: &, < and >. In general, there’s no reason in Markdown why you can’t use the signs “as they are”. However, since users have the possibility of mixing up Markdown with HTML, this is more complicated in practice. The parser understands when you want the simple characters and when you want HTML code so you don’t need to solve this problem yourself.

Backslash masking

Besides the specific characters involved in HTML, Markdown also uses certain symbols as markups. When you insert them, the parser will respond to them during conversion. This pertains to the following signs:

  • Asterisk: *
  • Hyphen: -
  • Underscore: _
  • Round brackets: ()
  • Square brackets: []
  • Curly brackets: {}
  • Period: .
  • Exclamation mark: !
  • Pound: #
  • Accent grave: `
  • Backslash:

To use these signs for their original purpose, simply add a backslash in front of them. Important: The backslash must be entered before each individual sign, i.e. before an opening bracket and before a closing bracket.

Would you like to try Markdown yourself? Find out which program is right for your system in our article on Markdown editors.

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About the author

Telmo Goncalves is a software engineer with over 13 years of software developmentexperience and an expert in React. He’s currently Engineering Team Lead at Marley Spoon.

Check out more of his work on

When I was building my own website and blog, I chose to use Markdown in conjunction with Next.jsbecause it’s easy, fast, and, to be honest, I enjoy writing in Markdown. In this article, I’ll walk through how I didthis so you can produce a great, content-driven site of your own.

This article assumes the reader is generally unfamiliar with setting up web applications with tools like npm and thesystem Terminal. Several steps involve encountering errors and backtracking; this was intentional for the purposes ofeducating the reader on how the application is architected and the interdependencies of each component.

Those more familiar will be able to skip through some of the explanatory details for each step.

First, create a folder for your project. Do this by running:

For those new to UNIX commands, this produces a new directory named ‘blog’ (mkdir blog) and navigates to it (cd blog).

Next, install the following dependencies using:

Running npm init will create a package.json file in our project, using -y will skip npm’s default questions. Ifyou like to include this information, just remove it.

Since the site will use next, the scripts in package.json will need to be changed to the following:

Next, run npm run dev which should start the project on port 3000. Open your browser and navigate tohttp://localhost:3000.

At this point, an error may be thrown (or the build didn’t complete at all). This is because Next.js is expecting tofind a pages directory. This is where you’ll create content pages.

Create the pages directory with an index.js file by running the following:

Now if you run npm run dev and open http://localhost:3000 in your browser, the following error should be shown:

This is because the index.js file exists, but it’s empty.

First, create a React component index.js at the top of the file:

Once saved, Welcome to the Homepage! should be displayed on http://localhost:3000.

You can create many pages as you want (ie - author.js).

Do this by running:

And adding a React component (shown using author.js):

Save, and you’ll be able to see the content by opening http://localhost:3000/author in your browser.

Here, we’ll dive into how getInitialProps from Next.js works. Above the export default Homepage line on the index .js homepage, add:

Collective, it should look like this:

Props (which stands for “property”) are used for passing data from one component to another.

Here a prop is created called blogTitle and passed into the Homepage component. When you accesshttp://localhost:3000, the content should now read: Welcome to the blog: Rookie for life!

The app is passing a prop saying what the value of blogTitle is. If you change it from Rookie for life! toRockstar! and save, you should see the page update with the new title.

Next, let’s create blog articles using Markdown .md files and dynamically load them. Using Markdown files for thecontent is beneficial because it’s easier to write in them and manage the content.

That way, when a user opens a page like http://localhost:3000/blog/article-name it will render with content writtenin an file.

A great feature of Next.js is that it allows developers to create dynamic files.

Create a dynamic file called [slug].js in a pages/posts/ directory:


Note that the posts directory will be inside of the pages directory.


Markdown To Static Website

Now create a posts template using a React component:

This queries the URL and extracts the slug from it. slug is used because that’s the name of the file ([slug].js). If the file were named [id].js, the query would be instead.

Now, if you access http://localhost:3000/posts/hello-world you should see: Here we’ll load “hello-world”

If you change hello-world to in the URL awesome-nextjs-blog, the page will display: Here we’ll load“awesome-nextjs-blog”

The content Markdown files should be stored in a separate directory so they’re easier to manage. Create a contentdirectory and a Markdown file by running:

Upon opening the content directory, there should be a blank file.

Open the file and add the following:

Now open [slug].js and add the following above return { slug }:

So collectively, it looks like this:

The application is now querying slug from the URL and loading an .md file with that slug.

Markdown files contain frontmatter data. This is information defined in the section divided off using the ---markers in the .md file. To parse that in some way. To parse that, use gray-matter.

This can be installed by running:

Now update the [slug].js template to import matter and parse the .md content:

If you reload the page, you should see an error: TypeError: expected input to be a string or buffer

This will need to be resolved by adding a Next.js configuration file. Do this by running:

Open the newly created next.config.js and add the following configuration:

This requires the raw-loader package, so that will need to be installedas well by running:

Keep in mind that any time an update is made to the next.config.js configuration file, it’s best to restart theapplication.

Now reopen the post template and update the PostTemplate component to handle the frontmatter data:

Then in the same component, add <p>{content}</p> for rendering the Markdown content:

You should now see the title: Build an awesome Next.js blogAs well as: We’re building an awesome Next.js blog using Markdown

Finally, the application will need to convert the content we have written in Markdown so it renders to users in theexpected format.

Add the following to

This will display the content as plain text in the browser. To render the content written in Markdown; installreact-markdown by running:

Then in the [slug].js file, import ReactMarkdown and update the PostTemplate component to replace<p>{content}</p> with <ReactMarkdown source={content} />.

Markdown To Html Website

Collectively it should look like this:

Now you’re all set! If you’re new to Markdown, check out this handy cheat sheet which is great to reference as you’re learning the ropes.

Markdown To Documentation Website

Telmo regularly posts helpful React development tips and guides on Twitter. Be sure to follow him at @telmo