Time Management for Web Writers: Use Plain Text With Markdown

I’m a huge, HUGE fan of Markdown. Here’s why: it’s just plain text, so you can convert it instantly to HTML, PDF, or RTF (for Word, etc.) It saves an enormous amount of time.

If you’re not au fait with Markdown, and you do lots of writing, I heartily recommend this Markdown book.

Here’s what the plain text version of a document looks like, with Markdown syntax.

Plain text

Plain text with Markdown: easy to write and read, anywhere

Since it’s just plain text, you can write it anywhere – on your computer, your phone, tablet…

Here’s what the same text looks like in Markdown preview. (This is what it will look like as HTML etc.)

Markdown preview
Markdown previewed in Marked

The time Markdown saves you was brought home to me yesterday. A client wanted to see what his Web content would look like, so I had to send him some material. The files were all in plain text with Markdown syntax. Converting to HTML and uploading them took a minute. It took another minute to convert them to RFT, and compile that into a single document so that he had everything together, and could print it out.

From go to whoa, the whole process took less than five minutes – and that included adding another paragraph or two – I can never resist editing as I go. If I open a document, I have to add/ delete or in some way tinker with it.

Before I started using Markdown consistently, sending the client the material would have taken a lot longer. I’d need to open the Word files, convert them to plain text, then add HTML… thinking about it makes my head hurt.

Markdown is a miracle for anyone who does lots of writing. If you haven’t yet discovered Markdown, you’re in for a treat.

Read Jon Mitchell’s excellent article on why you should use Markdown to convince yourself to give Markdown a try.