March 20, 2017 // Tagged in: Tools

The most common ways to write online are with a Visual Editor or a Text Editor. Markdown is a 3rd way that for me is the easiest and most elegant of all. People like Visual Editors because they're Visual! Text or HTML Editors are more precise, but the HTML tags pile up and get in the way of your text. Markdown is clean, easy, and clear.

Visual Editors

Most of you will create with Visual Editors and that's fine. Platforms like Medium have their own, rather elegant, system.

There's nothing wrong with using a Visual Editor and it will be the most common and easiest for most of you.

Text Editors

Many platforms have a Text Editor Mode that lets you see and work with the HTML Tags that your Visual Editor is generating for you. This tends to be too geeky and ugly for most of you, and you don't have to use it. I find that Visual Editors tend to be sloppy and generate slightly messy HTML, so I prefer just working directly in Text Mode.


The thing about Text Mode or HTML is that while it's simple, you quickly get a bunch of HTML Tags that make reading and working with your content harder.

Markdown, as opposed to Hyper-Text MarkUP Language (HTML), was created to be very simple and clean. When your page is displayed, the Markdown, is converted to HTML, but while you're working, Markdown is much cleaner and easier.

With a Visual Editor you constantly have to reach for your mouse or trackpad for headings, bold, italic, and so on. With a Text Editor you're constantly typing angle brackets and HTML Tags. With Markdown you can just keep your fingers on the keys and type.

Markdown is my favorite way to work.

And pretty much the only way I work. My personal work, everything on this Art 490 site, all the content for my huge Art 110 classes, it's all created in Markdown.

Ghost (my favorite platform to work in) is entirely in Markdown. WordPress (my 2nd favorite platform, and by far the most versatile and powerful platform) lets you choose between Visual, Text & Markdown. Some other platforms also have Markdown options.

As with everything else in this class, what you choose to work with is entirely up to you. But just in case you want to try Markdown, here's a few bits of formatting info:

Basic Markdown

Here's a few simple tools:


One or more hashtags '#' makes a heading, for example '##' would be a Level 2 heading.

## Recent Exhibitions


Recent Exhibitions

#### No Redemption Value


No Redemption Value

Italic & Bold

An asterisk on either side of a word or block of text will make it Italic. Two asterisks will make it Bold. Three will make it Bold-Italic.

For me, *object production* is hopelessly mired in the *problems of capitalism.* I find **Social Practice** to be a compelling space where I can ***invite*** visitors to engage with ideas without the *baggage* of objects, commodities & capitalism.

For me, object production is hopelessly mired in the problems of capitalism. I find Social Practice to be a compelling space where I can invite visitors to engage with ideas without the baggage of objects, commodities & capitalism.


For Bulleted Lists, skip a line, and then start a new line with an asterisk and a space:


* something
* and something else
* and something more


For Numbered Lists, it's the same, but instead of an asterisk, use a number. Also, you don't have to put the numbers in order, like 1, 2, 3... you can just use any number, like 1, 1, 1... that way if you rearrange things, it will automatically renumber them for you.


1. Good
1. Better
1. Best


  1. Good
  2. Better
  3. Best

Horizontal Rule

For a thin horizontal rule, just put 3 dashes on a line:



Look above me, it's a line! Oh, and you'll need a blank line before those 3 dashes, please! :)

If you just paste any url, with the "http://", it will be a live link. You can just put and you're good to go.

If you want the text to be different than the link, then you use 2 square brackets for the text and 2 parenthesis for the link, like: [WordPress Markdown Reference]( which will give you: WordPress Markdown Reference.


Images use almost the same format as links. A link is []() and for an image you just add an exclamation point in front: ![]().

This works with WordPress if you already know the URL of an image, but with WP it might be easier to just use the Add Media button.

The format is the same for Ghost, except here, if you type ![]() then your Preview Window will get a box where you can drop an image, or click to find one to upload.

For images, the text in the square brackets [] is the Alt Text that can be read for the visually impaired, or helps search engines know what image is there, and in the parenthesis () is the URL of the image.

![two students in the CSULB School of Art's Gatov Gallery discussing an installation there](

two students in the CSULB School of Art's Gatov Gallery discussing an installation there


To set something off as a Blockquote just start a new line with a close angle bracket >

> Someone famous said something cool and now I'm quoting them!


Someone famous said something cool and now I'm quoting them!

More Markdown

That's enough to get started. And also that's almost everything I use every day. With those few symbols # * 1. --- []() ![]() > I've formatted hundreds of pages. Sometimes I add footnotes.

If you want to know more, you can search online and find plenty of Markdown reference docs. Here's a few:

Markdown graphic featuring a large, black image: