Write (More) Effortlessly With Markdown

Markdown has arrived on WordPress.com! Some of you may respond with “Finally!” Others might be asking, “what’s that?” Markdown is a quick way to add formatted text without writing out any HTML.

Let’s take a closer look. Here is an example of how Markdown looks while editing a post:

Markdown Example in the Text Editor

This is how that same example looks in the Reddle theme after it’s converted to HTML:

Markdown Example shown in the Reddle theme

Writing with Markdown

Markdown lets you compose links, lists, and other styles using regular characters and punctuation marks. If you want a quick, easy way to write and edit rich text without having to take your hands off the keyboard or learn a lot of complicated codes and shortcuts, then Markdown might be right for you.

For example, to emphasize a word, you just wrap it with an asterisk on both ends, like this: *emphasized*. When your writing is published, it will instead look like this: emphasized. Similarly, two asterisks denote strong text: **strong** will be become strong.

Want to see what else you can do? Take a look at the quick reference chart, which shows handy steps for creating links, lists, and other types of formatting.

Enabling Markdown on WordPress.com

To start using Markdown, go to Settings → Writing in your blog dashboard, check the box next to Use Markdown for posts and pages, and save.

Markdown Settings Example

When writing Markdown, make sure to use the Text Editor for the best results.

Getting into the Details

Markdown nerds (like me!) know there are a lot of variants out there. On WordPress.com, we’re using a slightly modified version of Markdown Extra1, with a tweak to allow fenced code blocks inspired by GitHub Flavored Markdown2.

For instance, you can write code examples quickly using backticks:

.ninja {
  visibility: hidden;

…which produces:

.ninja {
visibility: hidden;

Take a look at the Posting Source Code support page for a list of the syntax highlighting schemes that WordPress.com supports. More details are available on the Markdown support page, including steps for enabling it for your commenters as well.

Go Mobile

You can also write formatted text in Markdown from any of our great mobile apps. Just enable Markdown, install one of the apps, and write whenever inspiration strikes.

  1. It includes footnotes, which I think are basically the best thing ever with which to indulge my penchant for glorious digressions that would otherwise muddy the main point. Did I ever tell you about the time…3 
  2. Inspired by Evan Solomon’s GitHub-Flavored Markdown Comments
  3. [edited for brevity] Yes, you can even have footnotes inside footnotes. 

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Matt Wiebe


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  1. jdsteinbach

    Awesome! Great feature and the implementation looks really clean. Will this feature be released as a standalone plugin for self-hosted WP sites?

  2. Ron Scubadiver

    I am going to have to experiment with this.

  3. Secret Gardener

    This might be the answer to my poem problem.
    I got a complicated one– a while ago– on their forum. It was something like compose it all on a notebook-like thing & then transfer it to the new post form.

  4. Sheri

    Markdown is wicked awesome for front-end posting themes like P2 (and O2)!

  5. qrparker

    Oh man, those footnotes are a game-changer. I’ll be able to lie so much without getting in trouble.

  6. edremsrola

    Looks great – can’t wait to put it to use!

  7. Artist Nest

    Finally! A code that simplifies writing blog posts via the text editor without the use of html tags is most welcomed.

  8. Teepee12

    I wish I were better at using this stuff. It would solve a lot of problems. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to penetrate my brain.

  9. tom

    This is awesome! I wouldn’t say “finally”, but it’s a great feature that will make writing much more efficient.

  10. David Bennett

    So before trying it, I’ll ask whether a single carriage return gives a new line?

  11. pastorwalters

    Great news. Been writing my posts in Markdown anyway, and this cuts out a step in the publishing process. Thanks!

  12. katharinetrauger

    No questions? Hmm. Then let me say, I HOPE control+b and control+i will still work. Habits.

  13. jason b

    Big win! Excited to finally see this on WP!

  14. Pothi Kalimuthu

    Finally! I can’t tell how much I like this update!

  15. Sean Durity

    Sort of like wiki editing – LOVE it!

  16. sweatertest

    This is great! One problem I noticed however pertains to the content as returned to API clients (including the official WordPress clients). The Markdown content appears to be converted to HTML for API clients instead of being left in original Markdown format. Is this something you would consider fixing? It would be best to have feature parity between the web interface and for API clients. Currently a post published in Markdown continues to be editable in Markdown through the web interface, but editing it from an API client forces it to be converted to HTML (or else laboriously reformatted as Markdown in the client before resubmitting.

    To see this easily just try opening any Markdown published post from the WordPress iPhone app.

    • Matt Wiebe

      Thanks for noting the issue. We don’t have what we need in place to make editing the unconverted Markdown source available via the API at this point, but stay tuned.


    Finally!!! It’s awesome. Thanks a lot. I tried few things like Footnote, Headlines etc, it’s effortless and makes writing seamless.

  18. aborrowedbackpack

    Man!! Looks like I am the only one who has NO IDEA what is being talked about. Meaning, how is this useful for me. I’ll wait for my brain to be completely at home with this. :/

    • Matt Wiebe

      No worries, this is just another way to write for people who like different ways of formatting their text. It’s off by default and there’s nothing here that you need to understand. Still, the quick reference page might help shed some more light on the situation.

      • aborrowedbackpack

        Thanks Matt.
        I know that Markdowns, by default are off. I turned mine on 5 minutes ago and am reading about it, so that I can put it to use.
        Thanks for the quick ref page, you are an angel!

  19. ozanguis

    This is great! Well done WordPress!

  20. chrismcmullen

    Thank you. This is cool ‘n’ handy. :-)

  21. shalilah2002

    I’ll really have to understand this to use it. I’ll have to reread it and study it.

  22. Sven Seebeck

    I simply wish I could press the **Like** button more often than once. Super awesome!!!

  23. Three Well Beings

    This will take my poor brain awhile to absorb and use, but I’m very happy with the opportunity! I have struggled with some formatting…I think this will solve the issues! Great!

  24. JenT

    Finally! :) Markdown has been a steady request in the forums for ages. Glad to see it implemented for those who wanted it. Thanks!

  25. Jerry Asher

    This is great, but can I email posts into WordPress using Markdown, if so, how?

  26. Nikodemus

    Great news!

  27. anneinpt

    This is great. I love the option of footnotes.

    Can markdown be enabled for comments too? Or is it only for posts?

  28. James

    I signed up for wordpress about a week ago. I was disappointed to see it didnt support markdown. I wrote an email to support and they didnt even mention the feature was coming! I almost cancelled my account. But here it is!! WOOOHOOOO the experience is so much better!

  29. Russian Universe

    I’ve just tried Markdown. It works perfectly. I like it & will definitely use it. Thank you!

  30. Mary

    Looks easy – even for me! Thank you

  31. Moorlands Hosting (@moorlandhosting)

    LOL. This is how the first wordprocessors used to work decades ago (pre-wysiwyg). I remember having to type [bold] some bold text [bold]. Of course, with this you don’t have to chase down missing tags at the end of the phrase.

  32. Michael Lajlev (@lajlev)

    This should have been a part for wordpress core long time ago!

  33. catezapp

    exited to be able to try it out!!

  34. wpthemesbay

    I’ll give a test for this new feature, but I think I’ll continue using the default editor.

  35. Anurag Rathod

    Some users may need to learn the syntax but… its really helpful once you are familiar with this

  36. Cody

    This is great! One gotcha is that, using the mobile app, when you edit a post that was written in Markdown, you get HTML back. However, the plugin (on a self-hosted WordPress.org site) Markdown on Save Improved manages to make it so that I only ever see Markdown in post editing, both on the site itself and using the mobile apps. Might be worth looking into how you could implement this!

    • Matt Wiebe

      Hi Cody – yup, that’s an issue that I’m all too aware of. I did, after all, go to some trouble to make it work in the plugin you mentioned for dotorg sites. :)

  37. lecridulapin

    Awesome ! I will use it from now on, thanks a lot !
    I hope the visual editor will be updated too, so it can be used as a preview panel.

  38. franceskaywriter

    For those whose advanced brains can grasp the information in this post and run with it – I salute you. Respect to writers whose fingers and toes do not curl up and die when they see the words ‘codes’ or ‘HMTL’. For people like me, it strikes a chord of dread that the next time I blog, a series of incomprehensible commands will be barked at me or strange configurations of letters I haven’t written will be appearing in my text box. I sincerely hope that this will not be the case, and that I can continue blogging in my Luddite fashion, with minimal tech and no clever HTML stuff. Over and out.

  39. Joe Linker

    Question, Matt: If the Markdown option is selected now, might a post previously published that inadvertently used Markdown code be automatically changed? Will selecting the Markdown option affect posts already published?

    • Matt Wiebe

      Hey Joe, good question. Nothing will happen to previously published posts once you enable the option, until you go and make an edit. Even then, Markdown just leaves existing HTML as-is, so even editing will continue to behave as expected.

  40. K

    This might take a little getting used to, but I like having the markdown option for bullets/lists. Is there an easy way to create superscript using markdown? Until now I’ve been using for 1st, 2nd, etc.

    • Matt Wiebe

      Markdown only supports some formatting options, and superscript/subscript are not among them. Just use and elements in the HTML Editor for those, as Markdown plays nicely with HTML.

      Also, see the Markdown reference to see what is supported.

  41. postaldeliveries

    This post didn’t explain anything except that there is some new something or other – could we have a post that shows what the hell you’d do with all this? None of the examples seemed to make any sense – surely there is someone at WordPress who hasn’t used markup before who could explain it to us.

  42. Chun Li

    Hi Matt, Thanks for sharing and I love it!

    Although I cannot see the option in my wordpress “setting”->”writing”, I have the version 3.7.1, do you have any clue why? Thanks

    p.s. I hosted the wordpress myself.

  43. eurotransient

    Oh man. I was so excited… and then realized it’s not with .org sites yet. I’ve had mixed results w/ Markdown plugins, was hoping to see one built into WordPress.

    One question: Does this break auto embeds, like embedding a YouTube video just by copying the link onto a single line?

  44. dehggial

    ^ if you post something where you quote somebody you can use the quote markdown instead of the function in the edit panel – same with the other markdowns. Basically it’s just a more handy way of using already existing (except for the footnote) functions.

  45. Darshak

    Just when I was thinking about switching to Ghost for this very feature?

  46. susankier

    Sounds like something I could sink my keys into.

  47. Lyagushka (Meirav)

    Not a fan – I’m happy using the editor buttons and adding the odd bit of html when I need it. Markdown would mean more stuff to remember, and since different sites use different markdown versions I know my brain wouldn’t be able to handle this. (I’m very active on Google+ and there putting one asterisk each side of your text makes it bold, for example.) So thank you for making this optional, so I can carry on using WordPress the way I’m used to.

  48. Deborah Edwards-Onoro

    Thrilled to have Markdown available on WordPress.com sites. I first learned about Markdown when I used Textpattern years ago. One of the reasons I loved adding content in Textpattern. I know HTML, but love using Markdown. Thanks!

  49. jmcideas

    Hello Matt
    Thank you for updating this option
    But some formatting icons are already present in the visual editor …
    Quote, strong, UL, Italic … Markdown let there them still active?
    A conflict of choice c’d it be?
    This experiment allowed me doubt
    I much w’d like an icon ‘Markdown activation or not’ in the panel editor
    Or simply a new editor enriched facilities Mardown!
    Or a final integrated rich editor (dixit WinWord, …)
    ….. waiting more about

    • Matt Wiebe

      Markdown works well with HTML, you can mix and match them without any issues. People who enjoy writing with Markdown like it because they don’t need to click on any toolbars to do their formatting. It’s possible we’ll revisit that in the future but for now it’ll stay as-is.

  50. DaniGOOT

    Yeah :D “Finally!”!

  51. allmediamath

    I’ve been waiting for this feature … fantastic, it does make life (well, blogging) easier.


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