The solution is reasonably simple. You can still write your document up in your favourite word processor, however, keep the formatting to a minimum (avoid anything more complex than bold, italics, and hyperlinks; also, you can add images, but do not do it in your word processor). Once you have your file ready, save it out as a .docx, so that we can get underway in earnest. The first part covers converting your document to the Markdown format.
Steps to convert from docx to Markdown:
1. Download and install Visual Studio Code.
- - We will use this to edit your document later, but essentially this will be your go to program very soon.
- - Pandoc is a freely available program online, which will handle the conversion of your documents. It supports a host of outputs, including: docx, HTML, Markdown, PDF, latex, and txt, just to name a few.
4. You now need to navigate PowerShell to the location of your document. Generally, it will start in your user folder (C:\Users\YourAccount). You can use the 'cd' command, plus the path of your document to get there quickly:
- - Type: cd 'C:\Users\YourAccount\Documents'.
- - Make sure to replace the path section with the location of your document (the above uses 'Documents' as that location).
6. Now it is time to utilise Pandoc. In PowerShell, type: pandoc 'YourDoc.docx' -f docx -t markdown -s -o 'YourNewDoc.md'
- - Make sure to substitute 'YourDoc' with the name of your current document, and update 'YourNewDoc' to have a name which you want, for your converted file.
- - If you want to know about the commands available for Pandoc, make sure to visit their documentation page.
8. Your document will be converted to Markdown (though retaining the original document, though you will not need it by the end, so do with it what you like).
9. You have successfully converted your document from .docx to Markdown, the next part is to update your document using Markdown.
Steps to update your Markdown document for easy conversion:
1. Open Visual Studio Code. Once open, you will be presented with a (mostly empty) window. This might look familiar in part, if you have used any other Visual Studio program; Visual Studio Code is the light weight version, and it is remarkably powerful, and allows you to easily write in many programming languages.
2. Click File > Open File, and then browse your files for your new Markdown file (we are opening it in VS Code).
3. With your file now open in Markdown, you will notice that it is looking very plain. This is the power of Markdown, it utilises only the most basic of formatting, however, this allows it to easily be converted into other formats.
4. Here is an excellent cheat sheet of how Markdown works. Have it at the ready, for the next few steps.
5. Now you will need to open the preview page (which shows you what your document will look like with Markdown applied). With your document open, navigate to the top right, and click the split window icon, with the magnifying glass in front of it:
6. You will be presented with a panel to the right of your Markdown document, which is showing you what the output will be. You will notice, all the Markdown tags (#/*/---/```) are gone, and just plain text appears, with light formatting.
7. Now, using the cheat sheet as a guide, update your Markdown document, so that it presents how you would like it.
8. With your Markdown complete, close Visual Studio Code, because, you are ready for further conversion!
Steps to convert your Markdown to HTML:
1. Open PowerShell once more, and navigate to your Markdown document:
- - Remember to use the ‘cd’ command, and the path to your document – cd 'C:\Users\YourAccount\Documents'
- - Pandoc 'YourNewDoc.md' -f markdown -t html -s -o 'YourNewWebpage.html'
As you will realise, from now on, you simply need to maintain your Markdown document, and then you can convert it; as mentioned previously, this works for PDF and docx too, so you can always produce those formats if you need them.
This is the start of your Markdown journey, though, expect to continue and go further. Through using Pandoc, and PowerShell, you could put together a PowerShell script to automatically convert your latest Markdown document to HTML, so that you can keep working on your documents, without worrying about the export process. This is an excellent workflow and may help you increase efficiency!