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How To Use Markdown To Write In Google Docs

Markdown – a lightweight markup language for creating formatted text using a plain text editor – has been supported by Google Docs in a very limited capacity when composing a document for some time now. The syntax is intended to make writing on the Internet easier and is a popular alternative to WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors, which use rich text later converted to proper HTML.

However Google Docs extended its support for Markdown earlier this year, adding a few more cases where you can use it, such as when you need to add links or bold/italic text. If you’re a Markdown fan and want to leverage it to speed up your writing, here’s how you can use it to compose text in Google Docs:



Enabling Markdown for Google Docs

To start using Markdown in Google Docs, you must first enable the feature. To do this, create a new Google Docthen click Tools > Preferences. This will bring up a pop-up window with general settings that apply to the entire application. Next check the box next to “Automatically detect Markdown”, then click OK. That’s all. Once you enable this setting, it remains enabled for all new Documents until you manually disable it.

I just want the steps!

  1. start a new Google Docs
  2. Click on Tools > Preferences
  3. Under Generalcheck the box next to “Automatically detect Markdown”
  4. To click OKAY

Markdown formatting supported in Docs

Although still very limited, Google Docs does support Markdown to quickly add any of these formatting elements to your document: Italic, Bold, Strikethrough, Links and Headings. Here’s how:

  • Italics: To format the text as italicssurround it with a single asterisk or underscore. Example: _text_ or *text*
  • Bold: To format the text as boldsurround it with two asterisks or underscores. Example: __text__ or **text**
  • Italic and Bold: To format the text as italic and boldsurround it with three asterisks or underscores. Example: ___text___ or ***text***
  • Rod: To format text in rodsurround it with a single hyphen. Example: -text-
  • Connections: To create a link, write the linked text in parentheses, then without adding spaces, write the URL in parentheses after the text in square brackets. Example: [Chrome Unboxed](
  • Headings: To create a heading at the beginning of a paragraph, add number signs (#) in front of your heading text. The amount of number signs used corresponds to the item level. Example: To create Heading 1, use a number sign (e.g. #Header). To create a header 2, use two number signs (e.g., ##Header), etc.

Limitations of Markdown on Google Docs

Markdown can be extremely useful and lead to increased productivity for those familiar with it and used to it. Unfortunately If you’re a Markdown expert and think you can use the full breadth of popular syntax in Docs, you’ll be terribly disappointed.. For example, Google Docs doesn’t support inserting images, block quotes, horizontal rulers, or many other things that can usually be done in a full Markdown text editor.

Furthermore you can’t paste text already in Markdown syntax into Docs and expect it to be recognized. Docs will only automatically detect and correct Markdown that has been typed in its editor, which rules out potentially typing your text in a full Markdown editor and then moving it to Google docs.

However, when it comes to using a markup language like Markdown, there are two schools of thought. Some people swear by its portability and ease of use, while others think the keyboard shortcuts are just as easy. Whatever your feelings about Markup, it is extremely popular, and Google Docs supporting it, albeit in a limited way, is an additional tool that writers and editors can take advantage of.



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