Google has announced that it is adding Markdown support to Google Docs, a big win for the community of people who love the popular markup language.
For those unfamiliar, Markdown, created by John Gruber, is a lightweight language specially designed to facilitate marking (adding formatting elements) in a document without formatting.
“Using Markdown is different from using a WYSIWYG editor. In an application like Microsoft Word, you click buttons to format words and phrases, and the changes are immediately visible,” explains the documentation. “Markdown isn’t like that. When you create a Markdown-formatted file, you add the Markdown syntax to the text to indicate which words and phrases should look different.”
Since Google Docs is a rich text editor, Markdown was not supported until now.
## How does Markdown work?
Google’s implementation of Markdown is not entirely new. Docs has been supporting a limited version of Markdown for a while, but the latest update expands its scope significantly.
With Docs’ autocorrect feature, Google now automatically recognizes Markdown markup. For example, typing “#Google” will turn it into a headline without you having to do anything else.
To activate the feature, go to Tools > Preferences and check “Automatically detect Markdown”. Google says the feature is rolling out more widely, so don’t worry if it’s not fully available yet.
Markdown support is also disabled by default, which makes sense since “normal” users are likely to get very confused when formatting is added seemingly randomly. But for those in the know, it’s there.