These days I try and use Markdown wherever possible to apply a basic level of formatting to text content, quickly and easily. The content for this Jekyll-based site is mostly written in Markdown. I use it for formatting template-based transactional emails, with Adam Pritchard’s Markdown Here Chrome extension. It’s also good for content creation in Statamic.

Adam’s written a Markdown Cheat Sheet and there are other guides for Markdown usage on Github and Stack Overflow.

A Very Useful Thing would be to quickly generate a pdf from a Markdown file (normally with file extension .md or .markdown). This would allow generation of an easily shareable, formatted text document in a simple text editor, without the requirement for something heavyweight like Microsoft Word. If you use Node on your local machine, it’s accomplishable using Alan Shaw’s markdown-pdf Node module as a standalone terminal program.

Install your local module globally:

npm install -g markdown-pdf 

Navigate to the directory in the command line containing your Markdown file, and generate the pdf using the Markdown converter:

$ cd yourcontainingdirectory 
$ markdown-pdf  

That’s it.

Here’s an example of a Markdown text file:

original Markdown text file

And here’s what the resulting pdf looks like:

resulting formatted pdf file

There are a number of configurable options, and of course the module can alternatively be called as part of a process on a server supporting Node.