Posts by C. M. Helmer

iA Writer Markup /

I’m using iA Writer to write with Markdown formatting. It’s an effective app and a pleasant way to write (compared to, say, Microsoft Word or straight HTML). The files are portable because they are plain text, but that also leads to a shortcoming: apps handle Markdown differently.

This page just tests the limits of iA Writer’s output, a kind of acid test. The markup also ends up being a test of this website’s styling of all the different HTML elements.

The HTML that I exported is immediately below and the original MultiMarkdown source from iA Writer is further below for reference. I sent the whole thing to the website by an iOS Shortcut.

See also the MultiMarkdown Syntax Guide and iA Writer’s own Markdown Guide.


Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Heading 6
Placeholder image
Placeholder image

Paragraph with important text, emphasized text, and super important text (BETTER THAN ALL CAPS!). There is a strikethrough, code, a link, of course, and an inline image in a link with a footnote: inline placeholder image1.

  1. Ordered list item
    • Nested, bulleted list item
    • Task list item (click to check off in iA Writer!)
  2. Ordered, completed task list item

The rare definition list:

definition2
a statement of the exact meaning of a word, especially in a dictionary
the degree of distinctness in outline of an object, image, or sound

A block quote (with a citation reference):

Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me, … la da da dee da da doo, la la da da da dee da doo.

—Kermit the Frog[3]

And a code block:

alert( "Hello, World!" );

Markdown supports tables but they are messy. iA Writer handily includes a CSV file as a simple table:

Header Row Column 2 Column 3
Row 1 Data is nice
Row 2 So make it look good

Markdown is meant to format simple writing in a way that is readable to both human and computer. It is not meant for more complex formatting. When all else fails, use raw HTML. This snippet has embedded Markdown (be sure your quotes are straight!):


## Heading 2
### Heading 3
#### Heading 4
##### Heading 5
###### Heading 6

![Placeholder image](https://via.placeholder.com/160/999/999)

Paragraph with **important text**, *emphasized text*, and ***super important text*** (BETTER THAN ALL CAPS!). There is ~~a strikethrough~~, `code`, [a link, of course](https://ia.net/writer), and an inline image in a link with a footnote: [![inline placeholder image](https://via.placeholder.com/24/999/999)](https://music.apple.com/us/album/the-muppet-movie-original-motion-picture-soundtrack/1440805864)[^Media courtesy of Apple Music. Use their service and maybe they won’t hold it against me.].

1. Ordered list item
    - Nested, bulleted list item
    - [ ] Task list item (click to check off in iA Writer!)
2. [x] Ordered, completed task list item

The rare definition list:

definition[^_Oxford Dictionary of English_]
: a statement of the exact meaning of a word, especially in a dictionary
: the degree of distinctness in outline of an object, image, or sound

A block quote (with a citation reference):

> Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the   dreamers, and me, … la da da dee da da doo, la la da da da dee da doo.
> 
> —Kermit the Frog[#book]

And a code block:

``` javascript
alert( "Hello, World!" );
```

+ + +

Markdown supports tables but they are messy. iA Writer handily includes a CSV file as a simple table:

/_/Table.csv

Markdown is meant to format simple writing in a way that is readable to both human and computer. It is not meant for more complex formatting. When all else fails, use raw HTML. This snippet has embedded Markdown (be sure your quotes are straight!):

<audio controls src="https://audio-ssl.itunes.apple.com/apple-assets-us-std-000001/AudioPreview118/v4/51/77/6c/51776c55-224f-a10a-74a6-7eb004e94f84/mzaf_6308902825983025033.plus.aac.p.m4a">*Your browser does not support HTML5.*</audio>

* * *

Some notes:

  • There are a few things not tested here that iA Writer is capable of handling: Setext-style header, Table of Contents ({{TOC}}), Markdown table (or table caption), or Math (TeX).
  • iA Writer wraps a block image (one that is on its own line) as a <figure> element with the optional text as a <figcaption>. This is preferred. (Inline images are just the <img> with the optional text set as its alt attribute.)
  • iA Writer doesn’t distinguish between *emphasis* and _citation_, rendering both as <em> instead of <i> or <cite> (I’m not aware of any Markdown editor that does differentiate them, but they are semantically distinct).
  • iA Writer doesn’t recognize ::highlight:: (HTML: <mark>). It doesn’t claim to but it would be nice.
  • iA Writer has it’s own file transclusion syntax, beginning a new line with / followed by the relative path to an image or text document to include (also works with an absolute URL on it’s own line). Much neater than MultiMarkdown spec. The table above is included this way.

iA Writer’s implementation of Markdown is the best in my opinion, compared to other apps and tests, even MultiMarkdown Composer.

It’s a good idea to export directly from iA Writer to HTML or Microsoft Word rather than let another tool convert it such as the Markdown module in the WordPress Jetpack plugin (which uses Markdown Extra). Pandoc comes very close.


  1. Media courtesy of Apple Music. Use their service and maybe they won’t hold it against me. ↩︎

  2. Oxford Dictionary of English ↩︎

  3. Jim Henson, It’s Not Easy Being Green: And Other Things to Consider. (This quote may or may not be contained in this book.)


K screamed and I came running. A pair of goats was there, in the house. They had made their way through the garage, up the stairs, and into the room behind her. Without even knocking. Kids these days.

Today’s conditions: 💨 blow dryer.

In India, comedy doesn’t require imagination. You just wake up, read the news and half your job is done.

Anuvab Pal, “A lifetime of material: a comedian’s guide to the Indian election,” The Guardian (May 22, 2019)

A peddler of colorful cloth and a shop for copies and rice
A peddler of colorful cloth and a shop for copies and rice

It would be a funny and enlightening hour.

… find a smart person and have them watch you use the computer for an hour.

Seth Godin, “Digital hygiene” (May 20, 2019)

We finished the Gospel of Mark! Our part at least, before it is typeset, printed and shared with the team’s community. There have been so many changes over the last year and a half as this team learned how to translate and the community worked out how to express their written language.

We finished Friday just in time. I wasn’t going to have another day with them before the family travels for baby delivery. We checked off the last step in the translation process. We clapped and prayed. Then I had to run out in the lashing rain to make it to my train.

But the rain was warm and the sun shone through. The wet didn’t dampen the moment. It was a little heavenly party.

Today’s conditions: 😖 poor gut flora.