I’m using iA Writer for my text files but I’m running into a frustrating problem. Unless I put a paragraph between paragraphs, everything runs together. But putting a paragraph between every paragraph really makes the text long. Is there syntax to force the paragraph in preview/export to that I can keep paragraphs together in the markdown text view? See attached. This does not happen in something like Ulysses. Am I missing something?
A paragraph is simply one or more consecutive lines of text, separated by one or more blank lines. (A blank line is any line that looks like a blank line — a line containing nothing but spaces or tabs is considered blank.) Normal paragraphs should not be indented with spaces or tabs.
The implication of the “one or more consecutive lines of text” rule is that Markdown supports “hard-wrapped” text paragraphs. This differs significantly from most other text-to-HTML formatters (including Movable Type’s “Convert Line Breaks” option) which translate every line break character in a paragraph into a <br /> tag.
When you do want to insert a <br /> break tag using Markdown, you end a line with two or more spaces, then type return.
Yes, this takes a tad more effort to create a <br /> , but a simplistic “every line break is a <br /> ” rule wouldn’t work for Markdown. Markdown’s email-style blockquoting and multi-paragraph list items work best — and look better — when you format them with hard breaks.
Ironically, some newer “flavors” of Markdown deliberately break this behavior, to the point where many people don’t realize that it goes directly against one of the key feature/behaviors that Gruber intentionally chose.
Ulysses notes in their documentation and on their site that their Markdown XL flavor is needed to provide additional features not in the Markdown spec, including Comments, Annotations, and Delete, but if you need different or strict Markdown you can choose between Markdown, MarkdownXL, Textile and Minimark flavors.
The use of blank lines to separate paragraphs does hark back to the days of Text User Interfaces (TUIs) and for that matter to typewriters and teleprinters. But, you know, computers are really good at defining new sets of rules.
Personally, as I started using computers back in the TUI days, I automatically use blank lines anyway. So it’s no skin off my nose, but I do respect OPs concern for document length and this is something I notice in my own documents.
My use case for having a paragraph define as a newline and a blank line is ventilated prose. Handy when you want to create simple and well encapsulated sentences. Markdown adhering to the standard convention allows you to type with line breaks, but have it compiled as a complete paragraph.
Note that markdown preview, Marked has an option to accept paragraph line breaks, so you could have both behaviours with the same markdown “code”. Brett Terpstra’s Markdows Service Tools also has an option to preserve paragraph line breaks.