Markdown is an easy to use markup language for formatting text. It has proved to be very popular with developers. The syntax is small, quick to learn and very readable. The format is fairly well supported by online tools. Thinking of just a few examples off-hand: GitHub, MediaWiki and Trello. When you are writing a lot of text, particular web content, markdown makes it easy to see and focus on the content, rather than a mess of HTML tags.
This post isn’t a markdown tutorial. The defacto tutorial on markdown is by John Gruber (the author of markdown), available here on his website. Instead this post is a brief explanation of how to use markdown on WordPress.
Plugins to the rescue
First of all, markdown is not natively supported by WordPress. However this isn’t a problem, as WordPress has a thriving plugin ecosystem, and sure enough there are plenty of markdown plugins available. My personal recommendation for a markdown plugin… JetPack!
There is something quite concerning about working on a site that is held together with duct tape and a questionably large combination of plugins that you’ve never heard of. Perhaps the memory of projects with that sort of setup is why I prefer to only install required/essential plugins. JetPack is often one of those essential plugins.
I don’t think the JetPack plugin page really explains all the neat features (e.g. no mention of markdown), the JetPack Features page on jetpack.com does a much better job. Features I recommend to almost every WordPress site maintainer: Markdown support, Enhanced security, Proofreading and Monitoring.
Once you start editing posts using markdown it’s easy to wonder how you managed without. If you’re running a WordPress instance without JetPack I’d highly recommend taking a look.