Google Docs has supported Markdown – a lightweight markup language for creating formatted text using a plain-text editor – for some time now in a very limited capacity when composing a document. The syntax is aimed at making writing for the internet easier and is a popular alternative to WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors, which use rich text that later gets converted to proper HTML.
Currently, Markdown support in Google Docs takes place as an autocorrect feature and only in very specific instances, such as when you use the operator “or” followed by a space, which autocorrects to bullet points, or when you type an opening and closing bracket “” followed by a space, which autocorrects to checkboxes. However, that is about to change as Google has announced via their Google Workspace Blog that support for Markdown autocorrection in Google Docs is expanding, requiring you to only select “Automatically detect Markdown” from Tools > Preferences to enable the feature.
The expanded support will now support autocorrection for:
2. Italic and bold
3. Bold + italic
In the video example below, Google demonstrates how Markdown could be used within Docs by using the number sign “#” to denote a heading and increasing its amount to go from Heading 1 to Heading 6, as well as using two asterisks before and after a phrase to make it Bold. For those familiar with the syntax and who use it regularly, this can definitely speed up typing and productivity. You can also learn more about Markup and its syntax here. The feature will be OFF by default and can be enabled in Docs under Tools > Preferences. This is an extended rollout that started yesterday, may take up to 15 days for full visibility, and will be available to all Workspace and personal Google accounts.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to using a markup language as Markdown. Some swear by it because of its portability and ease of use, while some think it’s just as easy to use keyboard shortcuts instead on a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor. Regardless of one’s opinion, Markup is extremely popular, and Google Docs adding expanded support for it is a good move that strengthens its feature set for a wide variety of users. I am looking forward to Google Docs adding more helpful features like this one in the future.