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Friday, February 23, 2024

Markdown Syntax Highlighting: A Beginner's Guide

Most people looking for markdown syntax highlighting would agree that properly formatting code blocks improves readability.

With some simple Markdown syntax, you can easily highlight code in a variety of programming languages. This beginner's guide will walk you through everything you need to know, from basic syntax highlighting to custom themes and styles.

You'll learn Markdown basics like bold, italic, headers, and links before diving into code blocks. See examples of highlighted code in JavaScript, Python, CSS, and more. We'll also cover advanced topics like creating custom highlight themes and extending highlighting on GitHub.

Getting Started with Markdown Syntax Highlighting

Markdown syntax highlighting allows users to add color and formatting to code blocks in Markdown documents. This makes code easier to read and understand.

Understanding Markdown Syntax Highlighting

Markdown syntax highlighting works by applying different colors and text formatting to code elements like keywords, strings, and comments. For example, keywords may be bold and blue, while comments are italic and green. This color-coding makes it easier to visually distinguish the different parts of code in a Markdown document.

The Importance of Markdown Syntax Highlighting

Syntax highlighting is important for a few key reasons:

Choosing the Right Markdown Editor

There are a few popular Markdown editors that support syntax highlighting:

When choosing a Markdown editor for syntax highlighting, consider the language support, theme customization, and overall usability for your needs.

What is the color syntax code for Markdown?

Markdown does not have built-in support for changing text color. However, there are a couple ways to add color using HTML and LaTeX syntax:

Using HTML

To change text color in Markdown, you can wrap text in an HTML <span> tag and use inline CSS styling:

<span style="color: red;">This text will be red</span>

You can use hex codes or color names for the CSS color property.

Using LaTeX in Markdown

If you are generating a PDF from your Markdown, you can use LaTeX commands for coloring text:

\textcolor{red}{This text will be red}

The \textcolor command takes two arguments - the first is the color, and the second is the text to style.

So in summary, to add color in Markdown:

This allows you to highlight important text, add styling, and improve overall readability.

What is the Markdown syntax symbol?

Markdown uses simple syntax to format text. Here are some common Markdown syntax symbols:



Some other common Markdown syntax includes:

So in summary, Markdown uses simple punctuation characters as syntax to format text without needing to use cumbersome HTML tags. Some of the most common formatting includes bold (**), italic (*), code (`) , headings (#), lists, links, and blockquotes (>), which provide a lot of basic text styling functionality.

How do you change lines in Markdown syntax?

To create a line break or new line in Markdown, end a line with two or more spaces, then hit return to start a new line.

Here is an example:

This is the first line.  
And this is the second line.

The two spaces at the end of the first line indicate where the line break should occur.

You can also create line breaks by using the HTML tag <br>. For example:

This is the first line.<br>
And this is the second line. 

The <br> tag inserts a line break wherever you place it in the text.

Some key points about line breaks in Markdown:

So in summary, line breaks are created easily in Markdown - just end a line with two spaces or use the <br> tag. Give it a try in your next Markdown document!


How do you quote code in Markdown?

To quote code in Markdown, you need to use the blockquote syntax. Here is an example:

function helloWorld() {
  console.log('Hello World!');

The key things to note are:

Without the extra space, the code would not be indented properly and Markdown would not format it as a code block.

So in summary, to quote code in Markdown:

This will result in properly formatted quoted code like the example above.

Basic Writing and Formatting Syntax in Markdown

Markdown is a lightweight markup language that allows you to format text using simple syntax. Syntax highlighting extends markdown's capabilities by applying color and styling to code blocks and other technical elements. Let's explore some core markdown formatting and see how syntax highlighting can enhance readability.

Markdown Emphasis and Headings

To create bold or italic text in markdown, surround words with double asterisks (**) or single asterisks (*) respectively.

Headings help structure your document. Use the # symbol to denote heading levels:

# Heading 1 
## Heading 2
### Heading 3

With syntax highlighting enabled, headings may display in different colors, sizes, or fonts compared to regular text. This improves scannability.

Lists help organize information visually:

To add a link, put the linked text in brackets followed by the URL in parentheses. Some markdown editors will highlight links in a different color, making them easy to identify.

Working with Images and Blockquotes

The syntax to embed images is similar to links. Add an exclamation point first, like this:

![alt text for image](imageURL)

For blockquote callouts, start lines with a right angle bracket (>):

This text will appear in a blockquote style. Syntax highlighting can style it with indentation and borders to differentiate it from normal paragraphs.

Tables and Paragraphs Formatting

Tables use pipes (|) and hyphens (-) to define columns and rows. Syntax highlighting makes tables easier to parse visually by displaying lines, borders, and grid patterns.

Paragraphs in markdown are denoted by line breaks between text blocks. Some syntax highlighters will automatically wrap text, eliminating the need for manual line breaks.

Creating and Highlighting Markdown Code Blocks

Markdown offers a convenient way to include code blocks in your documents, with built-in support for syntax highlighting to visually distinguish code elements. This section covers the basics of creating Markdown code blocks, specifying languages for accurate highlighting, and using inline code formatting.

Markdown Code Block Basics

Markdown has two main ways to denote code blocks:

def hello(): print("Hello World!")

  def hello():
      print("Hello World!")

Fenced code blocks are the preferred method as they offer more flexibility in applying syntax highlighting.

Specifying Markdown Code Block Languages

To apply accurate syntax highlighting, specify the programming language after the opening backticks:

  &quot;firstName&quot;: &quot;John&quot;,
  &quot;lastName&quot;: &quot;Smith&quot;,
  &quot;age&quot;: 25
<p>Common languages include:</p>
<p>GitHub Flavored Markdown includes support for <a href="" target="_blank">over 200 languages</a>.</p>
<h3 id="markdown-syntax-highlighting-examples" tabindex="-1">Markdown Syntax Highlighting Examples</h3>
<p>Here are some real-world examples of syntax highlighting in action:</p>
<h4 id="python" tabindex="-1">Python</h4>
<pre><code class="language-python">def fibonacci(n):
    a, b = 0, 1
    while a &lt; n:
        print(a, end=' ')
        a, b = b, a+b
<h4 id="javascript" tabindex="-1">JavaScript</h4>
<pre><code class="language-js">const message = 'Hello World';

function sayHello() {

<h4 id="html" tabindex="-1">HTML</h4>
<pre><code class="language-html">&lt;!DOCTYPE html&gt;
  &lt;title&gt;Page Title&lt;/title&gt;

  &lt;h1&gt;My First Heading&lt;/h1&gt;
  &lt;p&gt;My first paragraph.&lt;/p&gt;

<h3 id="using-markdown-inline-code-for-snippets" tabindex="-1">Using Markdown Inline Code for Snippets</h3>
<p>For referencing small code snippets within text, use single backticks:</p>
<p>The <code>print()</code> function outputs text to the console.</p>
<p>You can print <code>&quot;Hello World!&quot;</code> by calling the <code>sayHello()</code> function.</p>
<p>Inline code formatting is useful for briefly mentioning code elements without breaking text flow.</p>
<h2 id="markdown-syntax-highlighting-on-github" tabindex="-1">Markdown Syntax Highlighting on GitHub</h2>
<p>GitHub provides robust support for writing and formatting content using Markdown syntax. Their <a href="">GitHub Flavored Markdown</a> build includes syntax highlighting for code blocks, making it easier to work with code examples in Markdown documents.</p>
<h3 id="about-writing-and-formatting-on-github" tabindex="-1">About Writing and Formatting on GitHub</h3>
<p>GitHub Flavored Markdown extends the basic Markdown syntax to allow for additional formatting options popular on the GitHub platform. This includes features like task lists, tables, and syntax highlighting.</p>
<p>Syntax highlighting allows code blocks to be rendered with color coding for the programming language detected. This makes code examples easier to read and understand. Over 100 languages are supported.</p>
<h3 id="working-with-github-flavored-markdown-spec" tabindex="-1">Working with GitHub Flavored Markdown Spec</h3>
<p>The GitHub Flavored Markdown spec includes the following elements related to syntax highlighting:</p>
<li>Automatic language detection for fenced code blocks, with language-specific syntax highlighting</li>
<li>Support for including a language identifier after the backticks for manual language selection</li>
<li>Fallback to no highlighting if language can't be determined automatically</li>
<p>For example:</p>
<pre><code class="language-js">function helloWorld() {
  console.log(&quot;Hello world!&quot;);
<p>Will be rendered with JavaScript syntax highlighting.</p>
<h3 id="integrating-third-party-grammars" tabindex="-1">Integrating Third-Party Grammars</h3>
<p>Additional languages can have syntax highlighting support added through third-party grammars. These custom grammars can be authored to recognize niche languages not included in the default set.</p>
<p>This allows GitHub Flavored Markdown to be extended for specialized use cases by the community.</p>
<h3 id="markdown-syntax-highlighting-with-linguist" tabindex="-1">Markdown Syntax Highlighting with Linguist</h3>
<p>Behind the scenes, GitHub uses the Linguist library to handle language detection and subsequent syntax highlighting.</p>
<p>Linguist has grammars for over 200 languages, providing robust analysis of code blocks. Its integration into GitHub Flavored Markdown makes highlighted code blocks a seamless experience for users.</p>
<h2 id="advanced-formatting-with-markdown-syntax-highlighting" tabindex="-1">Advanced Formatting with Markdown Syntax Highlighting</h2>
<p>Markdown syntax highlighting allows you to add color and formatting to code blocks in your Markdown documents. This helps improve readability and allows you to customize the appearance of different programming languages.</p>
<p>Here are some advanced techniques for getting the most out of Markdown syntax highlighting:</p>
<h3 id="customizing-syntax-highlighting-styles" tabindex="-1">Customizing Syntax Highlighting Styles</h3>
<p>Most Markdown editors provide built-in syntax highlighting themes and styles. Here are some tips for customizing the look:</p>
<li>GitHub Flavored Markdown includes a <code>linguist</code> library with support for over <a href="" target="_blank">200 languages and formats</a>. You can specify a language after your opening code fence to activate syntax highlighting.</li>
<li>Many editors allow you to install third-party color schemes and grammars to customize highlighting further. Popular choices include Solarized Dark, Monokai, Dracula, etc.</li>
<li>Use in-editor settings or custom CSS to tweak elements like colors, boldness, italics to meet your preferences.</li>
<h3 id="markdown-syntax-highlighting-for-python-and-other-languages" tabindex="-1">Markdown Syntax Highlighting for Python and Other Languages</h3>
<p>Here is how to highlight syntax for some popular languages:</p>
<h4 id="python-1" tabindex="-1">Python</h4>
<pre><code class="language-markdown">```python
import pandas as pd

data = pd.DataFrame({
  &quot;Name&quot;: [&quot;John&quot;, &quot;Mary&quot;], 
  &quot;Age&quot;: [30, 25]  


This will display Python code properly highlighted. Do the same for other languages by changing the language tag.


const message = "Hello World";


<h4 id="html-1" tabindex="-1">HTML</h4>
<pre><code class="language-markdown">```html
# Hello World

And so on for any other language supported by your Markdown editor.

Best Practices for Readable Code Blocks

Follow these tips for creating clean, readable code blocks:

Extending Markdown Syntax Highlighting

Most Markdown engines allow plugins and extensions for added functionality:

Get creative with customizations to tailor Markdown to your exact preferences!

Resources for Mastering Markdown Syntax Highlighting

Markdown syntax highlighting allows you to add color coding to code blocks in your markdown documents. This makes code snippets easier to read and understand. Here are some additional resources to help you master markdown syntax highlighting:

Download the Markdown Syntax Cheatsheet

The Markdown cheatsheet provides a quick overview of common markdown syntax, including guidance on creating code blocks and applying syntax highlighting.

Download Cheatsheet

Exploring the GitHub Flavored Markdown Specification

The GitHub markdown spec outlines custom extensions and capabilities supported on GitHub, including:

Review the GitHub Flavored Markdown Spec to learn more.

Linguist Documentation and Usage

Linguist allows you to define custom language grammars for syntax highlighting markdown on GitHub.

See the Linguist documentation for details.