Academic Writing in Markdown: How Working in Plain Text Make You Academic Writing Easier?

Students and researchers have enough challenges with their academic writing already, and the last thing they want is to have a low-efficient academic writing tool.

LaTeX and Microsoft Word are the choice of many who are heavy academic writers, but they don’t cater to everyone’s taste, do they?

For starters, the learning curve for LaTeX is so sharp that it’s horrifying to some. Just adding figures and tables in LaTeX alone could take you hours to master. While Microsoft Word seems to have conquered the learning curve issue, it becomes extremely slow and bloating when you write longer content, especially those who require versatile formats. You may find yourself waiting for 2 minutes for a large doc to open!

I’m comfortable with what I’m using for academic writing now, why would I change to markdown writing?

When you need to write a lot, and for various purposes, such as emails, papers, online articles, etc., like most scholars and students, it takes you forever to just adjust the format of your work to where it belongs.

Come to think of it, you first need to remove the original format of your writing, since the format you use (such as Word) doesn’t really fit everywhere, and then you need to add all the formats again to make it look good in emails, papers or websites. What a good way to waste your time!

Things are really different when you switch to markdown plain text writing.

Markdown editors such as Inspire Writer allows you to export your writing (including academic writing) to various format, HTML, txt, PDF, DOCX, and many more, with just 2 single clicks:

  1. Choose what format you want your content to be in,
  2. Click Export.

And that’s it.

So with a markdown editor, you won’t find yourself wasting time tweaking your copy to make it look good in different situations, because it’s already taken care for you.

Wait, what is markdown again?

According to Wikipedia, markdown is a lightweight markup language with plain text formatting syntax. It’s often used to create rich text using a plain text editor.

Uh-oh! I can see that we’ve lost you already, you might be wondering: how the heck do I know less than before I read that sentence?

Don’t sweat it, let’s break it down bit by bit for you:

  • Rich text: When you open a Microsoft Word doc, you’ll see a bunch of formatting features in the text. Footnotes, section titles, fonts, size or color of text, and all formatting elements of these sorts: these are features in a rich text document.
  • Plain text: You don’t see the aforementioned features in a plain text document, all you have are letters, numbers, punctuation marks and other symbols.
  • Syntax: You can think of syntax as a way of telling your computer how you want your text to look.

So, to sum it up, when you write with markdown, all you do is to write, and formatting is never your concern here. It then allows you to export your work to other formats such as DOCX, HTML, and more. Markdown sets writing and adding formats apart, and thus saves more time and creates less headaches.

More Advantages of Markdown Writing

Markdown allows you to focus on writing itself

At this stage, you’ve probably connected some dots here: markdown writing keeps you from distracted from formatting, so your focus is fully on writing itself.

With rich text editors such as Microsoft Word, you may find yourself spending a full hour fiddling with the formatting: you just have to find the right font for your work, the most appealing header that looks good everywhere, or other ways to procrastinate. 😛

With markdown, you have none of those excuses, and you have to write. Sound scary for some, I know I know. But you’ve gotta start somewhere. Why not let markdown editors be the external force to push you forward?

Markdown can be easily exported to multiple formats

You can well write something in a markdown editor, and convert it to a HTML file, which works perfectly on a website. Or a PDF for printing, a DOCX file if someone you work with just have to have a Word document.

Markdown files are future proof

The page format that used to work a decade or two ago might not work anymore now, and this is not uncommon. What if 10 years later, people stop using Microsoft Word (God forbids!), what would happen to your Word files?

None of these would be a worry if you’re working in plain text: it’s the same decades ago, and it’ll remain the same decades from now.

Markdown files are easy to sync between devices, and even software

Plain text documents are usually small and easy to move from one device to another, even if they’re on different operating systems, like Windows and Mac.

In the case of Inspire Writer, you can start your document in a Windows computer at work, and you can continue to work on it in Ulysses on Mac at home. And you don’t need to worry about losing anything, or compatibility issues. All you need is a solid third-party cloud syncing provider. See more detailed instructions and info about how to edit Ulysses markdown files on Windows here.

More advantages for academic writers

Apart from the above mentioned benefits for general and academic writers alike, here are two features of markdown writing that are especially helpful for academic writing.

Easy collaboration

When you need to work with a team to create a long, juicy article or report, it’s very common that you all have preferred formats. For instance, one may go with Microsoft Word, one with Google Docs, and another with Google Docs with its fancy template, and many more of this sort.

None of this would be an issue when you’re writing in plain text. You just need to write all the pieces and leave the formatting after until you’ve reached an agreement of the text. Thus saving bunch of time going back and froth arguing for the best format for your work.

Why Inspire Writer stands out?

Of all the markdown editors, or plain text editors, Inspire Writer stands out. Because:

  • It’s easy for you to convert your writing to all sorts of formats with Inspire: HTML for website publishing, DOCX for people who prefer a Word document, PDF for printing, and more widely used formats to come. It even allows you to publish your work directly from within the app to WordPress websites (very handy for bloggers), and Medium.
  • Its syntax is easy to master: you can grasp it in 2 minutes, literately. Check this markup syntax tutorial out and you’ll see for yourself how easy it is.
  • Your work syncs in different platforms and devices, as long as you have a reliable cloud syncing service provider. That is to say, you can write in Inspire on Windows, and can pick it up when you want in Ulysses on Mac. This is proof that Inspire Writer has done what its counterparts can’t do.

We don’t just talk the talk , but you need to walk the walk with us to see how Inspire benefits your academic writing.

Download the 10-day free trial of Inspire from here, and have a go at it. You’ll see how much time it’s saved you from all those formatting, and believe me, you’ll fall in love with the plain text writing experience, just like me.

If you feel that I’m still not clear enough about anything, feel free to leave me comments in the comment section, and I’d be happy to help. 🙂

Add Tables to Your Medium Posts with Inspire

Medium has its fair share of the user base. Many bloggers choose it as one of the platforms to increase their brand awareness and drive more traffic to their sites.

That being said, it’s still hard to imagine that Medium doesn’t support the table feature, which is very common and basic in HTML, and also enjoys a wider user base.

For instance, a table like this can’t be easily added to Medium:

ID Name Age
1 Mike 19
2 Annie 17
3 Tom 18

Which is why so many writers choose to replace the tables in their writing with more creative ways of expression. For instance:

Some may use a list instead of a table:

  • Mike, 19
  • Annie, 17
  • Tom, 18

Some would choose to use an image like this:

A table image

But the downside with the image is, if you don’t make it search engine friendly enough, it’s very likely that Google won’t be able to ‘find’ it, which could cost you potential clients or users.

But that’s the history now.

If you write on Inspire Writer, publish your work containing tables in it to Medium won’t be a problem anymore. This is because Inspire allows you to create a table with the (table) markdown syntax. In this case, when you publish your writing to Medium, the table will show automatically, without you having to adjust its presentation or capture a screenshot of the table.

This is a post on how  the table on Medium will look like.

Of course, Inspire Writer is not without its restriction: it now can handle a table whose width is less than 68 characters, but we do believe that it can be improved in future versions.

Over to you

So what do you think? Do you want to keep your writing well-organized and make a good impression for your readers? If so, would you have a go at Inspire Writer, the markdown editor? Why and why not? Please feel free to let us know your thoughts in the comment section, or what more you’d like to hear from us.

Happy writing!

Markdown Footnote: How It Spices Up Your Writing Workflow

As writing genres become more fluid these days, footnotes are no longer exclusive to academic writing. You can include them in your work of any kind if you need, be it a short novel, a long blog post, a short story, or even a poem!

For you, this means more authenticity for your work, more value-added information and fewer distractions for your audience. What more could you ask for?

In other words, it’s wise of you to add footnotes to your writing and have them spiced up your work. Keep on reading and see how you can add footnotes easily in Inspire Writer.

First off, what are footnotes?

Footnotes [1] can be anything: interesting comments, relevant sources, additional information, etc. (You can click the superscript number with the link to jump to the footnote at the bottom of this page to see for yourself what a footnote is. )

To some extent, you can add what seems too distracting for your audience, but could provide more information as a footnote.

We usually see footnotes in books as references or comments made by editors or translators at the bottom of a page. Or we can also find them at the end of a page of a rather long blog post, or a piece of academic writing.

Do I need to add footnotes in my work?

You don’t have to include footnotes to your work, if you don’t want to. I just suggest that you add them when you’re writing something like a novel, a short story, etc.: They’d be interesting reading materials for your readers.

To sum up, footnotes can do the following for you:

  • Provide explanatory notes to your readers without interrupting their reading flow;
  • Avoid distracting your reader from your main text;
  • Avoid cluttering your page with trivial but interesting information;
  • Add more authority to your work;
  • Provide value-added information to your readers;
  • And more.

How to add markdown footnotes in Inspire

To add a footnote in Inspire (download Inspire from here if you haven’t already), here is how:

1) Place your mouse cursor to the text where you want to add the footnote[2] to. Click Markup > Footnote. Or use the shortcut keys Shift + Ctrl + F.

To add a footnote in Inspire the markdown writing app for distraction free writing of all kinds
To add a footnote, use the shortcut keys Shift + Ctrl + T, or click Markup > Footnote.

2) There you go, you’ll see the footnote icon on the right corner of the footnote, and its content at the end of your page like this:

NOTE: The style of the footnotes depends on your website design. Therefore it can look very different from what’s shown here.

Over to you…

What do you think about adding footnotes to your work? Have you tried to add them to your work in Inspire before? What do you usually include in your footnotes? Feel free to share with us your writing experience, and your story could provide help for some.

 

  1. See the definition of footnote here: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/footnote.
  2. This is just an example of a footnote.

Markdown Language Syntax in Inspire

Inspire markup language is a super easy way to add formatting to text by using special characters around them, so you can define them, such as adding two asterisk marks ** around the text to define it as bold. It drives up your workflow, whether you’re writing a blog or a novel.

It takes only few minutes to learn. Once you master it, you’ll never want to write in any other way.

Tutorial

To make headers, preface the phrase with hash marks (or use Ctrl+H). The number of hash marks indicates the level of the heading. For example:

# Header One

## Header Two

### Header Three

To **make a phrase bold**, surround words with two asterisks (or use Ctrl+B).

To _make a phrase italic_, surround words with an underscore (or use Ctrl+I ).

To mark text for deletion, surround words with double vertical lines ||. because it’s somewhat uncessary.

To add comments inline, surround words with ++ (double plus signs).

To create an unordered list, preface each item in the list with a ““(minus sign), a “+” (plus sign) or a “” (middle dot) and a space:

– This is
+ An example
• Of an unordered list

To create an ordered list, preface it with numbers:

  1. This is
  2. An example
  3. Of an ordered list

To create a layered list, preface it with one of the above signs and enter a Tab before the signs to create sub layers and sub-sub layers:

– Item 1 level 1

– Item 1 level 2

– Item 2 level 1

– Item 2 level 2

– Item 3 level 1

– Item 3 level 2

      1. Item 3 level 3 item 1
      2. Item 3 level 3 item 2
      3. Item 3 level 3 item 3

Use “Enter” to escape the bullet list if you need.

If you want to create a block quote, like when you want to provide a motto, simply preface the quote with a >, greater than caret.

> Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.
> Einstein

To make a divider, type 4 hyphens in a row.

----

Escape Character

Some characters are automatically interpreted as part of the markup formatting. Inserting a backslash before them to indicate they should not be interpreted as format.

> A block quote

\> Not a block quote

Link, Image and Footnote

To create a link, wrap the link text in brackets (or use Ctrl+K).

To insert an image, type (img) (or use Ctrl+M).

To add a footnote, type (fn) (or use Shift+Ctrl+F).

Comment and comment Block

To add a comment, wrap the text you want to add comment to with two plus signs ++.

Or you can start a paragraph with two percent signs %% to make it a comment block.

Code and Code Block

To mark a part of text as code, warp it with two back quotes ``.

Start a paragraph with two single quotation marks '', and you’ll get a code block.

Raw Source and Raw Source block

Wrap the text with two tildes ~~ to mark it as raw source.

Start a paragraph with two tildes ~~ to mark the whole paragraph as a raw source block.

Tables

To create a table in Inspire, just click Markup > Table, or use the shortcut keys Shift + Ctrl + T.

Then change the table properties on the top right corner, and add your table content in the columns as you need.

More Definitions

All definitions can be seen via the button (or use Ctrl+9).

Keyboard Shortcuts: Speed Up Your Workflow

One of the most significant features in Inspire is that it allows you to stay free from using your mouse. In other words, when writing with Inspire Writer, you don’t need your mouse at all, because you can basically use keyboard shortcuts to do whatever you want.

Here are some of the most basic keyboard shortcuts in Inspire:

Basic Operations

  • Ctrl+G for creating a new group
  • Ctrl+N for creating a new sheet

Views and Navigation

  • Ctrl+1, Ctrl+2, Ctrl+3 for switching views
  • Ctrl+↓/↑ for navigating between the sheets
  • Ctrl+8 to show the Navigator
  • F11 for full screen
  • Ctrl+T for Dark Mode theme
  • Ctrl+0/+/- to show default, increased and decreased fonts

Inspire Markup Language

  • Ctrl+B for strong
  • Ctrl+I for emphasize
  • Ctrl+K for link
  • Ctrl+M for image
  • Shift+Ctrl+F for footnote
  • Ctrl+L for clearing Markup
  • Ctrl+H for increasing heading level
  • Ctrl+9 to show the Markup Bar

Frequently Used Features

  • Ctrl+6 to show Export
  • Ctrl+7 to show Statistics
  • Ctrl+R for Preview
  • F7 for spell check

Connect Inspire and Medium

Inspire allows you to publish your work directly from within the app to Medium.

To do so, you need to connect Inspire and Medium first.

Here is how you can do it in details:

1) You need to request an integration token by emailing yourfriends@medium.com.

Medium will then grant access on the Settings page of your Medium account.

2) When your token generation setting is turned on by Medium, go to your setting page, look for the Integration tokens section, and enter the description for Inspire. A token for Inspire will then be generated.

Get integration key for Inspire on Medium
Get the integration key for Inspire on Medium

3) Copy the token.

4) Go to Inspire > File > Preferences… > Accounts. Click the + button, and then Medium….

Connect Inspire the writing app and Medium
Add Medium account to Inspire the app

4) Paste your Integration Token here in the field:

Add Medium integration token to Inspire the writing app
Paste Medium’s integration token to Inspire

There, you’re all set and ready to go.

Please feel free to leave your message in the comment section if you find that there’s anything that I’ve missed here, or if you need to know more about Inspire and/or Medium.

Happy writing! 🙂

Inspire Editor: Distraction-free Writing With Its Little Helpers

Editor is where you spell your magic dust.

In here, you can write without any distractions from the outside world: it’s simple, clean, and free from any bells and whistles that could add to the distraction.

We believe that Markdown is ideal for distraction-free writing.

Now I hear what you’re saying: Why Markdown? What is Markdown anyway? And even if I agree that Markdown is the way to distraction-free writing, how do I do that in Inspire? Rest assured, we have you all covered:

But getting the right tool, i.e. go with markdown writing, is just step one. Then comes step two, creating the perfect writing environment for you to write in. And to do that, Inspire provides you with the following features: They stay out of your way most of the time, and will only come out when you need them.

Of course, these are just some of the features and functions you see and use in Inspire.  With us constantly updating Inspire, the list will sure grow in the future.

What do you want to see in Inspire? Don’t be shy, give us a shout-out and we’ll be in touch. 🙂

Inspire Dark Mode: a more comfortable writing environment for your eyes

If you prefer writing in the dark, or enjoy the less eye-soaring darker background to write in, or you just simply want to protect your eyes, then Dark Mode in Inspire is a good fit for your need.

By clicking ViewDark Mode, or using the shortcut keys Ctrl + T, your Inspire will be in the Dark Mode:

Inspire Dark Mode theme
Inspire Dark Mode theme

Inspire Dark Mode is a great tool to protect your eyes if you’re writing late at night, or working in a low-light environment. It reduces the eye strain, allowing you to be more productive, especially if your job requires you to stare at the screen over 10 hours a day, which could be quite normal for writers.

By switching your writing environment to dark mode, say goodbye to eye strain, eyesore and constant squinting in front of the screen.

How do you like it? Feel free to let us know what you think. We’re all ears. 🙂

Publish to WordPress and/or Medium From Within Inspire

You can publish your work written to WordPress or Medium directly from within Inspire Writer the app.

Here is how you do it:

Publish to WordPress from Inspire

To do so:

1) You need to add your WordPress account via File › Preferences…Accounts. Click the + button and Custom WordPress….

Add WordPress account to Inspire the distraction-free writing app
Add WordPress account to Inspire

2) Add your WordPress account information. Click Log In.

Enter your WordPress account credentials in Inspire the distraction-free writing app.
Enter your WordPress account credentials in Inspire.

3) You can also publish your post with a featured image straight from Inspire.

Add a featured image to your post directly in Inspire.
Add a featured image to your post directly in Inspire.

Publish to Medium

To publish your work written in Inspire to Medium:

1) You first need the token from Medium by emailing to <yourfriends@medium.com>.

Medium will then grant access to the Settings page of your Medium account.

2) When your token generation setting is turned on by Medium, go to your setting page, look for the Integration tokens section, and enter the description for Inspire. A token for Inspire will then be generated.

3) When you have the key, go to File › Preferences… > Accounts, then click the +button and Medium….

Connect Medium and Inspire the distraction-free writing app
Connect Medium and Inspire

4) Copy and paste your Medium token. Click Log In.

Provide Medium account integration token to Inspire
Provide Medium account integration token

There you go, easy as a cake.

Over to you…

How do you feel about the process? Do you want to know more about how to publish your work to WordPress and Medium directly from Inspire? Feel free to let me know your thoughts by leaving your comments below, and I’ll respond asap.

Inspire Cloud Sync: another promise to not lose any writing

Clouds, they keep our data safe from leaking or being lost.

Cloud sync in Inspire allows you to seamlessly sync and share files among multiple PCs with public cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive and many more on Inspire.

Just specify the folder where your cloud sync service locates in File > Preferences… > Cloud Sync:

Enable cloud sync on Inspire
Enable cloud sync on Inspire

Repeat the step on your other PCs.

Ta-da! Your copies of Inspire should then sync with one another.