How to Use Markdown in Google Docs

There’s also support for formatting. Italics are added by surrounding text with either asterisks or underscores; bolds by surrounding text with two asterisks or two underscores on each side; and strikethrough by surrounding text with dashes. Like this:

Google via Justin Pot

Finally, you can quickly create new headlines by starting a new line with a pound sign followed by a space. For example, “#Leadline” on a new line would make the full-size headline. To make smaller headlines simply add more pound signs, “## Like This” for an H2 headline and “### Like This” for an H3 headline, and so on.

Now, this is far from the full list of what markdown can do. Unfortunately, Google Docs doesn’t support everything. There’s no support for inserting images with markdown, for example, which is something that would save me a lot of time. There’s also no support for block quotes, code blocks, or horizontal rules, to name a few more things. No, Google Docs’ markdown support offers only links, italics, bold, strikethrough, and headlines. That’s most of what I use markdown for, though, and it’s better than what we had before, which was nothing.

What’s Not Supported

As I mentioned, this isn’t Google Docs adding full markdown support. Text is converted to Docs’ native formatting immediately, meaning there’s no way to edit the text in markdown after that. Google Docs isn’t turning into a markdown client, it just offers a quick way to convert text.

One disappointment, though, is that Google Docs only converts markdown as you type — it won’t convert pasted text. If you write documents in a markdown editor and paste them into Google Docs to collaborate, you might think markdown support will speed up your workflow. It won’t — at least, not in this way. Still, it’s all better than nothing, and it’s going to make edits a lot easier for me.

Make Google Docs Less Papery

While we’re making Google Docs just a little more modern: Have you noticed the interface is still dominated by virtual pieces of paper? If you haven’t printed a document since the decade before last, you probably don’t need to see a digital representation of a page while you’re writing. Well, good news: Google, in the year 2022, finally offers an option to turn off the page view. Click File then Page Setup.

Screenshot of Google Docs page setup settings window

Google via Justin Pot

From here you can select the Pageless option and even set it as the default. And, seeing as you’re not working on an actual page, you might as well set whatever background color you want. We’re living in the future!

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