Markdown for WordPress: A Beginner’s Guide recently announced the introduction of Markdown into their core features, allowing users to use it when writing their blog posts, pages, and comments. While Markdown is new to, it has been available to use in for some time with the use of a simple plugin. One of these plugins, called WP-Markdown, has been downloaded almost 25,000 times and has mostly been given a 5-star review by its users.

Markdown is a plain text formatting system created in 2004 by John Gruber and Aaron Swartz. It was developed to allow people to compose richly formatted text for the web. At its most basic, Markdown is a text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers. When it is used, it converts text to structurally valid XHTML and HTML.

Markdown is a very useful tool because it is extremely easy to use and very quick to learn. It makes use of special characters and punctuation to indicate style and links. The characters that are used show how the document will be formatted as well as help style plain text documents for them to be easily viewed. When the document is published to the web, these characters are converted to the appropriate style and format.

Writing in Markdown is extremely clean. As you use it, the formatting translates to completed HTML styles. You don’t have to worry about missing any closing tags or nesting tags incorrectly. There’s no styling required inline which means you won’t break any of the formatting once it’s published to the web.

Using Markdown with WordPress is easy with a single plugin called WP-Markdown. Once you have installed and activated the plugin, you are then given several new options within the settings menu of the WordPress dashboard. Under the Settings > Writing menu, you can change the options to enable Markdown on posts, pages, and comments. This menu allows you to enable the help bar for the post editor and comments as well as enabling a syntax highlighter option to help you get used to using Markdown.

As you use Markdown in your posts, your post editor window is split into two separate sections. The main window is used for writing your post, and below this window, you are presented with the post, fully styled. This window updates in real-time that will allow you to quickly confirm that your styling syntax is correct.

Carrying out the basic styling with Markdown is straightforward. To make convert text into an H1 header tag, you need to precede the text with a single hash. H2 headers are preceded with double hashes, and each level of header is then marked with an additional hash mark.

Markdown uses asterisks as indicators of emphasis. In order to make a selection of text bold, it needs to be wrapped with two asterisks. Emphasizing text with italics is as simple as wrapping the text in single asterisks.

Lists are added using various methods. For unordered lists, you can precede list items with a single asterisk, a single plus, or a single hyphen. For ordered lists, you then simply use the number followed by a period as you would in any normal text document.

Creating links requires a little more thought but can be created really quickly once you are used to the correct syntax. In order to add a link, you need to add the link text in between two square brackets and then the link itself should follow this link text in parentheses.

When referring to internal pages and posts, you simply need to use relative paths for the link rather than the full URL. Adding images to your post works in a similar way to adding a link. The alt text used on your images is added within the square brackets, and the location of the image file is added within the parentheses.

You can also display code block snippets by preceding every line of text within the code block with four spaces. Each additional indent within the code can be styled with a further four spaces to make it easier to read.

Markdown uses email-style > characters to create block quotes. These work best when each line within the block quote is hard-wrapped and preceded by the > character.

Markdown may not be for everyone, but for those who want a quick and clean method of creating posts without having to worry about HTML or slowing down by removing your hands from the keyboard, it may be a method of writing that suits you. It isn’t as expansive as using HTML to create your style choices, but it will cover a vast majority of them and certainly those style choices that you will use 90% of the time.

In conclusion, Markdown is a useful tool for WordPress websites, and WP-Markdown is an easy-to-use plugin that allows users to take advantage of its benefits. Whether you are new to Markdown or have used it in other programs, it is worth considering for your WordPress website.

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