Using Markdown for agile team collaboration

There are few things in business more frustrating than trying to write content with several people on a remote team.

Managing multiple voices, revisions and opinions is painful enough, but when you’re finally to a point where you agree on the text, it’s generally written in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, meaning there’s one last time-sucking stage: reformatting it for web and print display.

But time lost around formatting and reformatting is avoidable. There’s a better way to write with others, and it’s called Markdown. Markdown is is a text-based markup language created by John Gruber to write in an easy-to-read format that is effortlessly converted into HTML and print — and with the right system, Markdown can even be exported to InDesign.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Markdown, which is growing as popular with professional writing teams as framed eyewear. If you haven’t, you should get to know it because it is the syntax that will help you make sense of multi-channel publishing and content reuse.


The goal of agile content is to focus on what your audience needs and get them content effectively, in the right medium. Markdown was built for just that. It lets you iterate quickly on content that can easily be displayed in multiple formats. When you need to reuse all or part of that content somewhere else, you have it in a ready-for-anything format. This beats writing in Word or Docs, then rearranging formatting for the web (or worse, writing in the back-end of your CMS and having no clean version of your content to reuse or repurpose).

Cards on the table, we are quite partial to Markdown at Beegit because it’s a staple of our collaborative content platform. But when we started to draw up a better tool for content collaboration, we knew we had to start with Markdown because it translates so quickly and cleanly to perfectly-formed HTML without any effort. That means no missing tags and none of the usual trouble that comes with exporting to HTML from Word or Docs.

Beyond that, though, there is very little learning curve with Markdown. Unlike teaching someone HTML, Markdown can be learned in one writing session, meaning you can give it to anyone on your team and have them up-to-speed that day. No pushback, no time lost.

We’ve done previous posts covering all the fun particulars of writing in Markdown, but the point is, instead of wasting time and energy formatting, your team can write clean copy for the web to streamline an agile workflow.

So when you start that next team document, start it in Markdown to save hours of frustration now and smile again at how easy it when you want to reuse that content.

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