When creating blog content on WordPess, the constant process of stopping in order to highlight and edit your text, through the visual and text editors, can be a lengthy process. Markdown is a markup language that offers a quick and easy alternative to styling your WordPress posts, pages, and comments with plaintext formatting syntax. This means that you can add formats such as headers, lists, emphasis, blockquotes, links and images to a plain text using special characters such as brackets and asterisks. This offers bloggers a faster way to format their text without learning any complicated codes or shortcuts. If you would like to use code in your blog however, WordPress does support a variety of code languages. WordPress uses Markdown Extra, which supports features not available in standard Markdown, such as inline HTML, code blocks, and syntax highlighting. The changes and additions made by Markdown Extra also allows users to create definition lists, footnotes, and tables. These features can be particularly useful for bloggers who want an easy and efficient way to display or reference information. For instructions on how to render these features on WordPress, please review this quick Markdown reference and this Markdown syntax guide.
If you are interested in using Markdown, the best way to learn how to use it is by doing it yourself. There are different tools and tutorials which can be used to practice Markdown before using it on your WordPress site. For instance, GitHub offers a step by step tutorial for learning basic Markdown features, and Dillinger is a platform that allows users to create Markdown documents with a live preview. Dillinger is easy to use, and from personal experience, the live preview on this site allows you to gain a clear understanding of how Markdown formats will appear. Once you are familiar with Markdown, it will become easier for you to remember the characters used for each formatting, and you will be able to format your site more efficiently.
There are a variety of Markdown plugins available which can be installed on WordPress. Some of the most popular options for WordPress are Jetpack, PrettyPress, Typewritter, and WP Markdown. On my domain, I use WP Markdown. One of the aspects that I like best about this plugin, is the activate and deactivate feature. This can become useful if you would like to embed a YouTube video, for example, where simply posting the URL in the text editing box to create a live preview on your site is the easier option. Depending on how you want to use Markdown, this plugin allows you to enable this feature on pages, posts, and comments. The Help Bar feature for the text editor is useful for those who are still learning Markdown, and need the quick assistance of a toolbar to properly format the text. The Help Bar feature also activates a preview box just below the text editor to allow users to quickly check the formatting. This is particularly helpful as this plugin disables the visual editor altogether. As you can see below, you can activate or deactivate WP Markdown and the Help Bar feature by simply clicking or unclicking the enable boxes under
dashboard < settings < writting and saving the changes.
Below you will find a sample Markdown post, which is shown from the post editor box with the Help Bar and preview box included. In this sample, you can see how Markdown can be used to format headers, lists, block quotes, links, images and footnotes. Compared to the following picture, which depicts the published post, you can see how the WP Markdown preview box provides a fairly accurate render of the Mardown syntax. The final image demonstrates how the comment editor box is displayed when the WP Markdown feature is enabled. Depending on the type of comments you receive on your domain, you may want to consider enabling this feature to allow other users to easily include links, images, code blocks, and syntax highlighting in their comments.
It may look daunting at first but Markdown is very simple to use, and with the variety of plugins available on WordPress, you will be able to find the right plugin that works for you. So if you are a blogger looking for ways to be more efficient with your time, you should look into using Markdown for your WordPress site.