Writer, A Great Free Text Editor
Recently I discovered Writer and recommended it to two writers’ groups I belong to. I like the way Writer saves automatically and instantaneously. I like that it saves your documents online and offline in a chronological list. I like that it’s not only a text editor. It’s also a Markdown editor.
So, What’s Markdown?
Markdown is a very simple computer language for producing very nicely formatted documents using a text editor, like Writer. Writer can be used either in plain text mode or Markdown mode. Here’s a short introduction to Markdown.
Producing Ebooks Using Writer in the Markdown Mode
If you’re a writer on a slim budget you might like to publish your own ebooks using Writer in the Markdown mode. Here’s how:
- Type the copy for your ebook using Markdown
- Export that copy as an .epub file. (Epub is an open source format for most digital reading devices, except for the Kindle. However;
- Using a free, cross-platform application called Calibreyou can convert your .epub file into a .mobi file, which is the Kindle format.
Writing Your WordPress Blog Posts in Markdown
For those of you who have a WordPress blog and sometimes have run into formatting problems when posting, you could use Writer to produce your posts in Markdown. Here are the steps:
- Open Writer and click on the little icon with a “T” at the bottom of your screen. This changes the icon to an “M” and readies Writer to make your copy into a Markdown file with the .md file extension.
- Highlight all that you have typed and save it to your clipboard.
- Open an editing window for a new post in WordPress and paste that clipboard content into the text tab of that post’s editing window.
- Now click the “publish” button.
- When you click on “view post” at the top of your screen you should see a very nicely formatted post.
Learning Markdown Isn’t Hard
The most often used Markdown symbols are for bolding text or italicizing text, and for making the paragraph styles H1, H2, H3 , etc. With a little practice you will find that you can do more with Markdown than the usual WYSIWYG editing tools provide, such as entering tables. There are plenty of free Markdown tutorials on the Web. Just enter that as a search term and see!
See How Your Markdown Will Look When Published
Writer’s default mode of operation is text editing. When you start a new document with Writer look to the bottom of your screen. You will see a small rectangle with the letter “T” on it. If you click on that “T” it changes to an “M”, indicating that Writer is now ready to operate in the Markdown mode and save content as an .md file. Just to the right of the “M” is an icon that looks like an eye. When you click on that eye you will see what your Markdown document will look like when it is displayed on a web page, for instance, in a blog post. Using the eye view is an easy way to see whether you have been using the correct Markdown syntax to produce the results you want. The eye icon is a handy tool for folks learning Markdown. I produced this post using Writer in the Markdown mode and then pasted my outcome into the WordPress editing window under the Text tab. What you are reading is the nicely formatted outcome. Here is the
Markdown copy that produced this outcome.