Google has announced it is adding Markdown support (opens in new tab) to Google Docs, a big win for the community of people that absolutely love the popular markup language.
For those unfamiliar, Markdown, created by John Gruber (opens in new tab), is a lightweight language specifically designed to make marking up (adding formatting elements) a plaintext document easier.
"Using Markdown is different than using a WYSIWYG editor. In an application like Microsoft Word, you click buttons to format words and phrases, and the changes are visible immediately," the documentation (opens in new tab) explains. "Markdown isn’t like that. When you create a Markdown-formatted file, you add Markdown syntax to the text to indicate which words and phrases should look different."
As Google Docs is a rich text editor, Markdown has not previously been supported - until now.
## How will Markdown work?
Google's implementation of Markdown isn't entirely new. Docs has supported a limited version of Markdown for a while, but the latest update seriously expands the scope.
Using Docs' autocorrect feature, Google will now automatically recognize Markdown formatting. For example, if you type "# Google", it will be made into a heading without having to do anything else.
To activate the feature, head to Tools > Preferences and check "Automatically detect Markdown". Google says the feature is rolling out more broadly, so don't stress if it isn't available quite yet.
Markdown support is also off by default, which makes sense, because "normal" users would likely get very confused when formatting is added seemingly at random. But for those in the know, it's there.