Markdown & Pandoc

Every time I try to start a new paper for class it seems as though I am struggling to A: find a subject to write about. B: find sources for that subject. And C: find a program that will be acceptable to share between computers. This is where Markdown and Pandoc come in to play and hopefully I will learn how to use them better in the future.

Markdown and Pandoc are basically programs that provide sustainability to a file. For example, if a file is written in Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages it will only be able to be read for a certain amount of time because those programs do not cooperate well with others. Or even their own newer versions of themselves for that matter. Markdown is a program that lets you focus on writing in and format later, while the former do not. What Pandoc does is it will allow you to change the formatting of the Markdown file through the command line.

Once you learn how to use these programs they are easy to navigate but as you will see in my notes below, I struggled at times through the Programming Historian tutorial.


- Why use markdown? First, plain text format and sustainable

- Understandable by multiple phones and tablets

- Markdown is more about keeping you focused on writing and then worry about formatting

- Reference links are not footnotes they are just small numbers after the word that you are wanting to link

- Links to file always begin with !


- Geared toward publishing

- More valuable to write in plain text then worry about formatting

- Specifically made for academics

- Advantage of open note taking is to cite the research of others

- There are now peer review journals that accept research for publishing

- Other advantage is research version control you can always revert back to what you had a week ago if you think it is better

- Journal of Open Humanities Data

- Lessons learned in this class are being put in place in all different professions

- With digital tools there is now a chain of links to aid us in finding the original document

- This can sometimes cause issues with revealing private information about certain individuals that was not intended to be shared

- Digital tools can also help us do things like recreate old documents that have been taken apart and separated around the earth and recreate it digitally

Tutorial notes

- Principles of Markdown:

1: Sustainability – it is able to withstand changes in technology so that your research can be read years into the future

2: Preference for human-readable formats: Markdown is simple program that is exactly as it appears whereas .doc files have hidden formatting characters which can change the appearance of your file when simply copying and pasting something onto it

3: Separation of form and content: Writing and formatting at the same time is distracting so Markdown allows you to simply write and worry about formatting at a later time

4: Support for the academic apparatus: handles footnotes, figures, international characters, and bibliographies perfectly well

5: Platform independence: Markdown allows you to save any file in one format say a PDF and then convert it into HTML later on

- having difficulty finding Pandoc after successfully installing it

- figured it out – have to go into the command line then type in cd Documents and then hit enter then type pandoc and I am inside

- do not know yet how to get out of pandoc without closing the command line program completely but i will figure that out later

- Flavour of Markdown used by Pandoc is geared towards academic use

- Empty space is meaningful in Markdown

- It is important to remember not to indent your new paragraphs in plain text files like TextWrangler

- asterisks make letters bold or italic to add more emphasis (one for italic, two for bold, *like this* or **like this**

- to make a footnote you add [^1] after a sentence and it will then link to a website or source


- saved file in one file so it is easy to find

- goal of Markdown is to make things simpler so they (authors of this tutorial) recommend saving everything in one folder for this tutorial


- Italics and Bold are not formatting though but just adding emphasis like I did above

- Command Line is the best way to use Pandoc

- i typed in the command to open the textwrangler file in word and it did

- thankfully pandoc is better at using zotero than other reference managers as i am familiar with its basics already

- successfully edited the footnotes from the sample although i had some difficulty but that was just caused by misplacement of brackets

- changing citation style was difficult as well

- ended up being something i struggled with in the command line tutorial about trying to do multiple things at once

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