Essential Guide to Markdown: Learn the Basics and Beyond

Many enthusiasts of TUAW, including both writers and readers, appreciate John Gruber’s Markdown. Consequently, we often explore apps for both iOS and Mac that incorporate Markdown functionality.

For those unfamiliar with Markdown or its uses, our discussions might seem confusing or even frustrating.

Understanding Markdown

Markdown is a method for writing plain text that can be easily transformed into other formats, such as HTML for web pages, or PDF, RTF, LaTeX, among others.

The Benefits of Using Markdown

Markdown is known for its simplicity.

Longevity of Plain Text

Plain text has a remarkable longevity. While file formats have come and gone throughout the history of computing, plain text files remain universally accessible.

For instance, I have numerous documents saved in WordPerfect format, which became inaccessible when I switched from a PC to a Mac. Unlike proprietary formats, plain text files are supported across all operating systems without compatibility issues.


Unlike raw HTML, which can be cluttered and difficult to interpret without HTML knowledge, Markdown’s clean formatting syntax is straightforward to read and write.

Simplicity in Writing

Markdown simplifies the process of writing formatted text. For example, writing **bold** is more intuitive than <b>bold</b>.

Similarly, creating links in Markdown is more straightforward, using a combination of square brackets and parentheses.

Flexibility with HTML

Markdown is designed to be used in conjunction with HTML, allowing you to mix both as needed in your documents.

Getting Started with Markdown

Basic Formatting

To emphasize text, you can use *italic*, **bold**, or ***bold and italic***. Markdown also supports using underscores in place of asterisks for formatting.

Creating Links and Paragraphs

Links in Markdown are easy to write: the link text goes in square brackets followed by the URL in parentheses. For example, [this is a link to TUAW](

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Brian is a dedicated writer for TUAW, where he shares his insights and expertise on all things Apple. With a deep love for technology, Brian covers a wide range of topics, from the latest iPhone and iPad releases to the intricacies of macOS and Apple Watch features. His clear and engaging writing style makes complex tech topics accessible to all readers. Brian’s enthusiasm for Apple products shines through in every article he writes.