Markdown (Md)? MultiMarkdown (MMd)? If you have never heard of these tools, you should take a few minutes to read about the possibilities. Many lawyers make their living processing words. Lawyers should learn and use the best tools to do so, right?
The idea behind Md/MMd is that you can use a plain text editor (think Notepad on Windows or TextEdit on Mac) to write in plain text, using a few symbols to mark text for formatting.
For example, you can type the word “italic” with an asterisk character on either side (e.g., *italic*) and the word or phrase between the asterisks will appear as “italic” after it is processed by a Md/MMd editor. There are many options available.
You can also use different characters to establish headings, sub-headings, lists, numbered lists, or pretty much anything a full-blown word processor can do. Again, the key is that you are free to focus on writing with minimal distraction.
One way I use some of this functionality is in the app Day One. I write with my iDevice and type the pound/number sign (#) before my headings, and put dashes (-) before a list under that major heading.
As you can see from the images below, the typing part is simple and allows me to focus on what I want to say, not how it’s going to look (first photo). When I’m finished, the formatting is applied for me automatically (second photo).
Md is a simpler language, useful for lists, headings, and the like. MMd has additional features like tables, footnotes and citations, must-haves for many lawyers.
There are many good resources available to help you get started, but I’m partial to this overview and guide by Michael Hyatt.
I’ve also found helpful information from David Sparks, “an Orange County, California business attorney and a geek,” who blogs at MacSparky.com, who has written a book on the subject and also has some helpful tips using Markdown/MultiMarkdown on his blog.
What do you think? Is this a tool lawyers should add to their toolbox?