Writing Tumblr posts with Markdown

If you’ve already established or are thinking about creating a Tumblr blog, you might consider using Markdown to help format your content more productively. While it’s probably not the right tool for image-centric Tumblrs like House of Carbs or Standing Next To Yao Ming, it can help streamline content formatting on text-centric Tumblrs like Great Talks or even help format the captions underneath your manly Spacebeards photos.

What is Tumblr?

Tumblr is a cross between a social networking site and a blog. It is often described as a “microblog” – a social media site where a user makes short, frequent posts. According to the site’s About page, “Tumblr lets you effortlessly share anything. Post text, photos, quotes, links, music and videos from your browser, phone, desktop, email or wherever you happen to be.” Tumblr is great because you can use it for a variety of content types and you can get a blog set up and running in a few minutes, without having to purchase or configure a domain name and hosting.


What is Markdown?

You might think of Markdown as a simplified and far more human readable way to create content that’s destined for the Web. It can be cleanly and easily translated into valid HTML for pain-free Web publishing. According to John Gruber of Daring Fireball, creator of Markdown, “The idea is that a Markdown-formatted document should be publishable as-is, as plain text, without looking like it’s been marked up with tags or formatting instructions.” And because it plays nice with HTML, you can mix in HTML attributes and styles if you want to achieve specialized formatting that’s not supported in Markdown. If you’re writing words that are destined for the Web, you really should consider formatting it with Markdown.

Why write Markdown in Tumblr?

Purely from a productivity standpoint, Markdown is useful because it gets to the core of what matters: your writing. Once you learn how to use it, you can quickly and instantly format entire texts without ever needing to touch your mouse. And it’s continuing to grow in popularity – it’s supported in tons of new and established online applications, including Reddit, Trello and more.

Enabling Markdown in Tumblr

Below is a step-by-step guide to enabling Markdown in your Tumblr blog (including screenshots).

1. Click the user icon in top right corner, then click “Settings” in the dropdown menu.


2. In the right-side column, there’re four options. Click on “Dashboard”.


3. Under the text editor section you’ll see a dropdown menu that will read “Rich text editor” by default. Click it and select “Markdown”. A “saved” badge will appear to the right of the dropdown.


That’s it! Your Tumblr blog is now configured for Markdown.

If you need some help with Markdown formatting, check out this handy Markdown cheat sheet. If you’re a bit of a writing procrastinator (like myself), check out Reference for Writers for advice, tips and inspiration.

Happy writing!

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