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. 🙂

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. 🙂

Why Every Software Engineer Should Write More

“Every developer should write.”

We’re at the beginning of the ‘everyone should learn to code’ area. With the ever-emerging developers’ forums, tech websites and personal blogs, we have much easier access to advanced coding knowledge than ever before.

For a software engineer, it becomes all the more important for you to keep up with the tech trend from the mentioned sources, otherwise, your competitiveness would be under great challenge.

But having access to such knowledge and information only gets you halfway. How so?

Because being at the receiving end doesn’t necessarily mean that you truly master what you ‘learn’ as a software engineer. You could start blank at a technical document for 30 minutes without understanding a bit of it (one of my embarrassing true stories).

What can be done differently?

“While we teach, we learn.

The learning-by-teaching effect has been proved by many studies. Just as the name entails, by teaching someone else, we learn better ourselves. In other words, teaching what we learn is the other half of our learning journey.

That said, from my standpoint, writing is the best way of learning. Why would I say that? Read on and you’ll see.

Why do I say writing is the best way of learning, especially for software engineers?
Why do I say writing is the best way of learning?

Writing helps you code better, and vice versa

Coding and writing actually require very similar skill sets: you need to be capable of

  • thinking clearly,
  • planning,
  • organizing,
  • explaining clearly and concisely what you have in your head,
  • revising and editing your work till it’s almost close to perfection,
  • learning and practicing new industrial knowledge…

The list goes on and on…

By sharpening your writing skills, your coding skills grow as well.

For instance, if you are to write a good copy, possibly a big project, you need to break down the topic, find and select evidence you need, and order your points in a compelling way, and then start the writing process. This is almost what you’d do if you are to write codes for excellent software.

Writing helps you know more about your codes and yourself

Just like writers, software engineers need to learn non-stop. With the knowledge and information updating so rapidly, it’s a big challenge for these two groups to keep up with the trend, let alone being on top of it all.

But as we mentioned, teaching helps you learn better. By writing down what you learn, to you or to others, you have a chance to see clearly how far you’ve gone in the learning path.

Let’s think of it: you need to know what you learn by heart so as to write something about it, which requires you to learn more than what’s given in just one or two documents. During the process, you’ll see your weaknesses and strengths, and therefore, be able to fix what needs to be fixed.

By writing what’s in your head down clearly, you learn how to communicate effectively with different groups, especially when you have an audience of various backgrounds.

Different points of view

As software engineers, we usually have a very confined working scope, where we only need to talk to designers and other developers about work. The downside about this is, you’ll find your mind confined as well if you don’t seek a way out.

Writing is the way out.

By writing for different audiences, for different purposes, you’ll have to see things from different perspectives, and thus you’ll be able to think in other people’s shoes. Such a rare trait will help you understand your clients better, and therefore write better codes and programs.

In addition, by sharing your viewpoints, the others are more or less likely to be influenced, taught, and inspired by you. How fascinating is that!

Writing allows you to see things from different perspectives.
Writing allows you to see things from different perspectives.

But, but, but

By now, I guess the voice in your head is more of “But I don’t know how to write.” than “I need to write NOW!”

No one is born a writer, just like no one is born a software engineer. It takes tremendous training, learning and practice, just like anything else.

And to eliminate the learning curve, you should always start from something you’re familiar with. Pick something you find most comfortable to talk about, and choose the writing app that won’t stress you out, then start from there. Our brains just love what looks and sounds familiar to us.

Markdown writing

For a software engineer, you’d find markdown writing most familiar and easiest to accept as one of the first steps that you start your writing as a learning path.

Why markdown, you ask? Because:

  • years of experience in the industry may have trained you to focus on the more important things, like how you can better think and type in a distraction-free environment;
  • your time is too valuable to be wasted on setting up the writing environment, getting familiar with all the bells and whistles in most of the WYSIWYG editors;
  • instead, you might want to add all of your formatting styles right into the text as simple inline syntax rather than using all the features.

This is basically what a markdown writing app does.

Among all the apps, Inspire Writer stands out. With its simplicity and core features, this markdown editor helps to build the distraction-free environment for you to write in, and you’ll find the writing process so smooth and entertaining: just you and your thoughts, and nothing more.

Inspire Markdown editor in Dark Mode
Inspire Markdown editor in Dark Mode

Download Inspire now to enjoy the most comfortable writing environment that it creates for you. It now offers a 7-day free trial, with all pro features waiting to drive your writing workflow.

Or you can purchase Inspire Writer if you find it of great help to your writing goal from here:

Buy Inspire Writer
Buy Inspire Writer

Over to you…

Do you think that software engineers should write more than codes? What are your suggestions for software engineers who’d love to write more? Feel free to share with us what you think in the comment section.

Happy writing! 🙂