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Markdown is a really simple standardized text formatting system designed to be easy to write. The syntax is easy to understand and markdown-formatted text files are easy to read and understand in the plain text source format. Markdown can be converted to HTML web pages and a lot of other common markup formats. Files containing markdown use the .md file extension.

Quite a few website and content management systems use markdown. Microsoft github is a notable example.

There are some special-purpose text editors just for markdown with live pre-views of the end results and other specific features. Those can be used but they are not really required since the syntax is simple enough to be hand-edited using any text editor such as leafpad, mousepad, kate, nano, vi, vim, emacs or joe.

The basics

A simple markdown example can be this simple:

# First heading
This is an example.

## Sub-heading
*This will be italic* 

and either to confuse or make it easier, 

_this is also italic_

**Bold text** is also possible __using both styles.__

# followed by text will be your first heading. ## makes a sub-heading below the first heading. You can of course add more sub-headings if it's required:

# Clothing
## Shoes
### Brown shoes
### Black shoes
## T-shirts
### T-shirts with slogans 
### Worn-out t-shirts

Some web content management systems like WriteFreely will use the first heading as page title. Exceptions like that generally make sense and do mostly not require any customization.

Learn More

There is a nice cheatsheet by adam-p at github.

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