How to simplify writing WordPress posts by using Markdown

Have you heard of Markdown? It has been around for many years and some people love it because it makes writing much simpler. It can be used for many things, including blog posts in WordPress.

What is Markdown?

When writing an article for the web or for pretty much anything, it will have a structure. For example, it will have a heading and it may have subheadings. It might even have bullet lists or numbered lists.

The text may have words or sentences that are in bold type or italic. It could have links to other websites and pages.

Normally when we write a blog post in WordPress, we select the type of heading from a menu in the editor’s toolbar – Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3 and so on. Each one is progressively smaller.

If we want to make text bold, italic or strikethrough, we select the text with the keyboard or mouse, and use the buttons on the WordPress post editor  toolbar to apply it. If we want to create a blockquote, we select the text and click the button in the toolbar.

Markdown is a way of applying formatting by marking the text instead of clicking menus and buttons. Special characters in the text are used to specify headings, bold, italic, blockquotes and many other effects.

Some people prefer it because you can easily format text as you write without taking your fingers off the keyboard. In a recent article I looked at how to write a blog post in an hour and there were 10 tips. You might consider markdown to be the 11th tip because it can make writing blog posts quicker and easier.

Markdown is much easier to understand with examples, so here are some common ones.

Markdown headings

To create a heading using Markdown, use a # symbol. The number of hashes indicates the heading level.

What you type:

#### This is a heading

What you get:

This is a heading

There are four hashes, so the text is made into a Heading 4 style, exactly the same as if you selected it on the WordPress toolbar.

Here I typed in a heading 2 using two hash symbols:

Creating a heading using Markdown

And as soon as I hit Enter at the end of the line, the WordPress post editing magically transforms it into a heading 2 style:

Creating a heading using Markdown

Markdown works on the fly as you type!

Blockquotes in Markdown

To create a blockquote in the text, use the > symbol like this:

> This is a blockquote.

As before, when you press the Enter key at the end of the line, the text is magically transformed into the blockquote style.

Creating a blockquote in Markdown

Press Enter at the end of the line and this happens…

Creating a blockquote in Markdown

Lists in Markdown

Lists are easy when using Markdown and to start a list of bullet points, just type an asterisk at the start of the line.

What you type:

* This is bullet point 1

What appears in the post editor is

  • This is bullet point 1

To continue adding bullet points, just press Enter at the end of each one. To stop creating bullet points, just press Enter twice.

To create a numbered list, begin a new line with 1. like this:

1. This is a numbered list

At the end of the item, press Enter and number 2 appears. Press Enter twice to end a numbered list.

More Markdown

There is a lot more to Markdown and many more codes, symbols and shortcuts, but not every feature is supported. The ones above work fine, but some others do not.

For example, you should be able to specify *italic* and **bold** like this using single or double asterisks, but it does not seem to convert to italic or bold for me. Try it and see, it may work on your WordPress website.

An alternative for these is to use the keyboard shortcuts. Select some text and press Ctrl+B to make it bold or Ctrl+I to make it italics and Ctrl+U to underline it. On the Apple Mac, use Cmd+B, Cmd+I and Cmd+U.

How to enable Markdown

In order to use Markdown when writing posts in WordPress, it must be enabled. Is it already enabled? Try entering a heading with # Heading or starting a bullet list with * and see what happens.

If you use then go to Settings > Writing and tick the Markdown checkbox.

Enable Markdown at

If you use self-hosted WordPress, Markdown is included in the popular Jetpack plugin. Go to Jetpack > Settings > Writing and turn on the switch.

Enable Markdown in the Jetpack plugin

Now you can use Markdown when you next write a blog post.