Mark It Down

For the past five years since I started blogging, I’ve relied mainly on using WYSIWYG editors (first Blogger, then Wordpress, and now Squarespace) and occasionally switching into raw HTML when needed to finesse a few things. I recently noticed that my current host, Squarespace, offers several different markup styles including one I’ve been wanting to try out called Markdown, which is coincidentally developed by one of my favorite writers, John Gruber.

Why Am I Subjecting My Readers to a Mundane Post?

  • Because I can.
  • I figure the best way to experiment with Markdown is simply to write using the syntax.
  • I paid for this site.
  • Hopefully this formats as an unordered list.


  1. Because I can.
  2. I figure the best way to experiment with Markdown is simply to write using the syntax.
  3. I paid for this site.
  4. Hopefully this formats as an ordered list.

What is the point of Markdown over Vanilla HTML?

Good question. The Markdown documentation states:

Markdown is a text-to-HTML conversion tool for web writers. Markdown allows you to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML).

Thus, “Markdown” is two things: (1) a plain text formatting syntax; and (2) a software tool, written in Perl, that converts the plain text formatting to HTML.

And here is why I’m attracted to using it:

The overriding design goal for Markdown’s formatting syntax is to make it as readable as possible. The idea is that a Markdown-formatted document should be publishable as-is, as plain text, without looking like it’s been marked up with tags or formatting instructions. While Markdown’s syntax has been influenced by several existing text-to-HTML filters, the single biggest source of inspiration for Markdown’s syntax is the format of plain text email.

How Am I Liking Markdown So Far?

Well, just a few paragraphs in, I already like it. I previewed the post a moment ago to see how things are going, and found that the equivalent of <H2> tags looked too big so I easily bumped it down to <H3> by just adding an extra # symbol. Nice.

It’s definitely much faster to encode something like a link to my wife’s blog than to do it via WYSIWYG.

I am a little unsure how to get a link to target offsite and show the offsite indicator in Markdown syntax. I don’t see an example in the syntax documentation.

Thanks for making it through my little test. Not sure if I will stick with Markdown or not, but I could see it happening with a bit more practice. (Don’t worry, I won’t let you know next time, I just wanted to write about my experience in real time).