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Learning Markdown -- write for the web, faster

Markdown can be a useful tool for producing clean, professional looking research papers, memos, email messages or blog posts without the hassle of remembering lots of HTML tags.  Markdown is essentially a syntax language for formatting text as you write. It’s fast, and built for people who write for the web.

Formatting text in Microsoft Word, and other traditional text editors, can take a while. For example, when you want to format the title header of a document, you select the title and apply the menu item, Format > Font > Bold, or apply the header preset style. Similar menu items are used for italicizing selected text, creating a numbered or bulleted list of items, and adding a URL link.

Additionally, the formatting done in programs like Word use a lot of code for formatting – code that can mess up articles intended to be published online.

Some people, knowing this, use HTML formatting directly instead. For example, to bold text in HTML, you wrap the selected text using this syntax code> Use these tags to bold text. If you want to use a header in HTML, you use what is called header tags:

Title of Document

, so that the title style is applied.

Markdown is another way to format text – faster than typing HTML yourself, and better for web publication than using Word. It also includes special tags or syntax for formatting text. For example, to bold selected text using Markdown you wrap the text in four asterisks like this: **Use asterisks to bold text**. Those tags format the text in an application that supports Markdown.

Markdown is faster, and has less of a learning curve, than HTML. Markdown, and what is called MultiMarkdown, can be used for common text formatting, including italicizing text, blocking quotes, adding various header levels, typing ordered and unordered lists, and adding strikethroughs. It can also be used for adding inline URLs, email links, inline images, footnotes and footnote links, and simple tables.

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