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.

Markup Languages – A Brief History From HTML, Wiki to Markdown

If you’ve been exploring the web design world for a while, you’ll surely see ‘markup’ or ‘markup language’ at one point or another. But what does it mean exactly? And how does it help you work more efficiently?

What is a Markup language?

By definition, a markup language  tells a document how to appear by processing, defining and presenting the information written in the combination of words and symbols. HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is a widely used markup language. As you may see by now, the ‘ML’ in HTML stands for Markup Language, just like what you see in XML and XHTML.

Now let’s take a look at the brief history of some of the most widely used Markup languages, and see how it becomes more and more popular among writers.

HTML: the most widely known and used Markup language

As an important part of the worldwide web, HTML is the earliest markup language available on the internet.

It uses certain tags and elements to markup the formats or even properties of text. Eventually, the browsers will render the text into different content of different styles.

For instance:

<h1> A heading line</h1>

This is a heading line using a <h1> tag.

<a href="https://www.inspire-writer.com">Inspire Writer</a>

This is a link with a <a> tag.

<center><img src="logo.png"></center>

This is an aligned center image named logo.png with an <img> and a <center> tag.

It’s obvious that HTML takes care of the format and style of the text.

There are over 100 similar tags in the latest HTML5 standard. These, plus the properties for each tag, like the href is the property for the link, make it so hard to know the rules and use them well. Especially when you’re just a writer, not a writer/developer.

This is why writers, who are not web developers themselves, started to find another way to write.

Wiki markup or Wikitext

In the mid-90s, wiki was designed to encourage people who didn’t know much about HTML to write.

By introducing fewer tags that are more targeted for writing, the wiki engine transfers the content created in wiki into HTML in a structural way. By doing so, wiki users don’t need to learn a massive amount of HTML tags and properties before they can write on the internet.

Here are three examples of how the wiki engine usually works:

To define a heading in Wiki:

=A Heading Line=

To define a hyperlink:

[https://www.inspire-writer.com Inspire Writer]

To make an image aligned center:

[[File:logo.png|frame|centre]]

It’s obvious that the simplicity that wiki is after is more on the form of tags, but to some extent, it still is closely connected with HTML.

In other words, when writing in wiki, you don’t really need to master so many tags, but fewer tags alone don’t make your work easy to read. Therefore, you will often find yourself distracted when reading your work in wiki.

Markdown: focus on writer’s experience first

About a decade later, that is in 2004, Markdown was created by John Gruber. It’s a light, easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format.

By saying light, we mean that Markdown uses fewer, well-selected tags which basically won’t be a problem to master in an hour or two for most users. It also means that developers for Markdown editors need to deal with fewer tags, which makes it easier to develop and maintain.

By saying easy-to-read, we mean that even though with Markdown tags added to the content, your work will still remain intact. That is to say, you can still easily read the content without getting disturbed by the tags you use.

Moreover, Markdown text can be easily exported to effective, well-structured HTML content.

In Markdown, this is how you define a heading:

# A Heading Line

This is how you insert a hyperlink:

[Inspire Writer](https://www.inspire-writer.com)

Doesn’t it look like what’s in the plain text email?

And it’s also very close to how you insert an image:

![](logo.png)

By now, you may wonder, how can I define the image as align center? The answer is, you can’t.

This is where Markdown is different, or updated from, wiki and eve HTML: Markdown doesn’t care about the format of the text, i.e. how the text is displayed, it cares more about the property of the text, i.e. what the text is.

For instance:

# A Heading Line

defines a heading.

But how will the heading eventually be displayed, what’s the font size, whether it’s bold or aligned center are not what Markdown care about. And these questions shouldn’t be what you, the writer, care about at this point.

Only when you’re exporting or converting your work to HTML, will the Markdown engine tells that this is a heading, and the format will be left to CSS.

By separating text content and styling, Markdown enables you to write without being confined to details such as text formats, while being light and easy-to-use. This is what makes Markdown popular on platforms such as GitHub and Reddit.

Moving on – Inspire Writer Markdown

By now, it seems that Markdown is the ultimate weapon for writers. But is it though? Can it meet all the needs? Of course not. After all, nothing is perfect.

As mentioned, easy-to-read is one of the many shining points of Markdown, but it only works on text. However, images are indispensable when it comes to writing, especially writing for the internet.

We need to understand that as a markup language that specifically targets at plain text writing, it’s normal that Markdown can’t display images when you’re writing. A case in point is the tag that we use above:

![](logo.png)

But you can’t tell whether you’re using the right image or not in this way. This could be the deal-breaker for some.

The Inspire Markup Language by Inspire turns the table.

When you’re writing on Inspire, you can enter (img), and Inspire will prompt you to choose an image for your work, and insert it to your document in real-time.

Inspire Writer Markdown allows you to add an image
Add an image when writing in Inspire Writer with Markdown

Just as you can also see from the image above, the tags will be highlighted, making your work even easier to read.

If you’re tempted, why not give Inspire Writer a go? Download it from here  and install as per the instructions. It now comes with a free 10-day trial, with all pro features included, so you can see for yourself the magic of Markdown writing.

Over to you…

What’s your story with Markup languages? Do you find it helpful in your work? Feel free to share with me your experience, or let me know if there’s anything that I missed in the comment section.

What is Markdown – and why you should write, edit & format your work with Markdown?

For writers like you and me, writing is about sending out the messages you want to world to hear.

When you dig deeper, you’ll see that writing actually includes the following elements:

  • organizing your thoughts;
  • writing what’s in your head;
  • editing your work to make it top-notch; and
  • adding visual touches so your readers will see what you’re saying.

Much easier said than done! It’s not surprising that so many people find writing so hard to do. But it doesn’t have to – there are so many ways that can make the writing process easier, and even enjoyable.

Markdown, which is designed ‘to make it easy to read, write, and edit prose’, is one of the many that make your writing enjoyable.

Wait… what is Markdown?

Markdown is a lightweight markup language with plain text formatting syntax. It enables you to write with a light, easy markup language.

Compared with WYSIWYG editors such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, a Markdown editor is unique in its own ways:

Markdown Writing Separates Text Attributes From Formats

When you’re writing in a WYSIWYG editor like Word, you need to write and constantly set format for your writing at the same time.

For instance, after you type out the title for your work, you need to get it selected and change its format – enlarge it, make it bold and/or make it align center, so you and your readers will know that this is the title, not something else.

You may also need a template to unify all your writing. In this case, you have to select the text that is supposed to be the title and set its format as “Heading”, so the text will be enlarged, bold, and/or aligned center.

Conversely, Markdown is a writing format itself. In other words, all your formats are added when you’re writing, so all you need to do is just write, not format-adding needed for your work.

For example, you add a # (hashtag) before you type out the title, and you define it as a heading. That is to say, the text format is the last thing you should worry about when writing with Markdown.

When you are at the last stage of your creation, i.e. when you export your work, the style you define for your work will grant it related formats by its attributes.

For example, when you export your work to WP Twenty Sixteen in Inspire Writer, you’ll see the heading aligned left:

Export from Inspire Writer to a WordPress Twenty Sixteenth theme website
Export from Inspire Writer to a WordPress Twenty Sixteenth theme website

When you choose to export as Georgia, you’ll see it aligned center:

Export from Inspire Writer to a Geogia theme website
Export from Inspire Writer to a Georgia theme website

That is to say, Markdown defines WHAT the text is, not HOW it is.

Simply put, the text format, or render, should be decided at the final stage, by your text attributes and the style you choose. It’s not what something you should, or have to worry about when you’re writing.

That said, markdown creates a distraction-free writing environment where you won’t be disturbed by what format to choose. Say goodbye to the mouse, keep your fingers stay on top of the keyboard and make your writing flow.

Markdown Writing Transfers Your Work to HTML in a Better Way

There is no doubt that writing nowadays can’t walk far away from HTML: Your work will eventually show up as HTML one way or another.

Have you ever tried to transfer the .DOCX file you composed with Word to an HTML file? If you have, and you’ve read its source file, you’d be appalled to see how much garbage it contains.

But work written with markdown is totally another story.

Your work will be transferred to clean, light HTML files. These are the types of HTML files that you need. For instance, you can put them directly onto your personal website.

Moreover, if your website is built on WordPress, you can hit the publish button in Inspire, and your work will be published to your site with just this one single click.

Markdown Writing Transfers Your Work Into Formats of Various Kinds

Markdown editors such as Inspire Writer can easily transfer your work into formats you would normally use: HTML as we mentioned, TXT, PDF and DOCX document for Word, you name it.

You can also export your work to a common markdown (.MD) file, so you can publish it to platforms such as GitHub.

Try Inspire Writer Today!

Apart from what have been mentioned, Markdown is perfect for anyone who thinks plain text is too basic, but word processors are too bloated.

Among all the Markdown writing app, Inspire Writer stands out from the crowd with its simple, clean interface, and the perfect distraction-free writing environment that it creates. Its Markdown syntax is very easy to learn too!

If you haven’t tried Inspire Writer yet, give it a shot. Download Inspire Writer from here to enjoy the smooth Markdown writing process that boosts your writing proficiency and productivity. It now offers a 10-day free trial, in which you can enjoy all the paid features and free tech support. 😉

Inspire Writer Markdown Writing Editor
Inspire Writer Markdown Writing Editor

*BTW, this article is written with and published from within Inspire Writer. 😉