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What is Markdown?

Markdown is a markup language used to stylize plain text documents. Web developers often use it to write down HTML code before converting it to functional HTML tags with a Markdown editor.

It has a set of formatting syntax used to modify text elements, such as adding an emphasis, creating a list, or inserting links. 

As it aims to ease writing and reading text for the web, the formatting instructions only use keyboard symbols, as opposed to tags. 

Markdown documents use the .md file extension and can be opened with any rich text editor. 

Benefits of Markdown language

Here are the benefits of using Markdown syntax:

  • Readable – compared to HTML tags, the keyboard symbols in Markdown formatting are less distracting, making the raw file more legible.
  • Quick to learn – users are most likely familiar with the symbols used in Markdown formatting.
  • Less prone to error – the syntax is easier to remember and type than other markup languages.
  • Accessible – Markdown plain text files don’t use a proprietary extension like Microsoft Word documents, which means most text applications can access them.
  • Popular – well-known websites and apps like GitHub, Slack, and WhatsApp use Markdown for formatting.
  • HTML-integrated – some editors let you use Markdown and HTML simultaneously, so users can switch between the two languages.
  • Mouse-free – writing and formatting text can be done from the keyboard only, without clicking on the menu tabs.

Markdown cheat sheet

Below is a list of basic Markdown syntax supported by most applications:


To create a heading, add the hash (#) symbol and one space before the text. The number of symbols you use determines the level of the heading. 

For example, a level four heading requires four # symbols inserted before the text, while a level one heading only requires one. 

#### Heading 4

It works similarly to HTML’s <h1></h1> tag.


There are two types of emphasis: bold and italics. 


To italicize texts, you can enclose the selected words between asterisk (*) or underscore (_) symbols.

This is *italics* or This is _italics_

However, it is recommended to use asterisks when formatting characters in the middle of a word as many Markdown applications can’t process underscores properly in this scenario.

In HTML, this formatting works the same way as the <i></i>. 


For bold, Markdown requires adding two asterisks or underscores before and after the targeted text. The preference for using asterisks to format characters in the middle also applies here.

This is **bold** or This is __bold__

You can combine both bold and italics by inserting three asterisks or underscores before and after the text.

This is ***bold and italics*** or This is ___bold and italics___


Adding strikethroughs to a text requires two tilde (~) signs at the beginning and end of the text.

This is a ~~strikethrough~~

Ordered lists

Creating an ordered list with Markdown is the same as in any text editor. You can do so by inserting a number followed by a period, then adding a space before the text. The list will look the same after it is rendered. 

1. Item one

2. Item two

3. Item three

It is also possible to indent an item using the tab key.

1. Item one

1. Indented item one

Unordered lists

To create unordered lists, you can either use a dash, an asterisk, or a plus sign before the list item. Markdown will automatically replace them with a bullet symbol. Don’t forget to add a space between the symbol and the text.

– Item one

* Item two

+ Item three

The formula for inserting a link is as follows:


As an example, to add a link to the Zyro Website Builder, the Markdown syntax will look like the following:

[Zyro Website Builder](https://zyro.com)


To create a blockquote, you can add a greater-than (>) symbol followed by a single space before the text.

> This is a blockquote


You need to enclose a word or phrase in backticks (`) to mark it as code.

This is a `code`


Inserting images requires the following formula: 



To make a table, insert a series of words for the first row and separate them into columns with a pipe (|) symbol. Below it, type in several dashes and add another pipe symbol to divide the columns. 

You can then insert the content of the subsequent rows underneath it, then apply the same formatting to split them into columns. 

In Markdown, a table will look like this:

Cell name 1 | Cell name 2 | Cell name 3


Item 1          | Item 2          | Item 3

Escaping characters

If you want Markdown to not render the symbol, use a backslash (\) before the sign.

This is not a \# heading

Written by

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Olivia is a writer for Zyro and an eCommerce know-it-all. Having spent many years as a retail buyer, she loves writing about trend forecasting, brand building, and teaching others how to optimize online stores for success. She lives in London and spends a lot of time exploring the city’s parks with her whippet.

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