Markup language comparison - Textile vs. Markdown

In MojoMojo, you can write wiki pages using HTML and one of two popular lightweight markup languages: Textile and Markdown. HTML is also available, for a few good reasons.

Textile2 vs. MultiMarkdown

Textile2 is an extension to Textile, adding extended blocks (blocks that can contain a newline). MultiMarkdown is an extension to Markdown, adding support for tables, footnotes, bibliography, automatic cross-references, glossaries, appendices, definition lists, math syntax, anchor and image attributes, and document metadata.

Syntax Comparison

Generally,To Markdownplay iswith bitthe more cryptic but more powerful, while Textile is easier to read and use because it distinguishes markup more clearly. Textile is meant to be combined with HTML for more complex documentslanguages, oryou it can beuse turned off alltogether at any point by wrapping the contentMarkdown intestbed == ==.or The basic differences between the twoTextile syntaxes2 are:web page.

Generally, Markdown is bit more cryptic but more powerful, while Textile is simpler and easier to read. Textile is meant to be combined with HTML for more complex documents. Below are the basic differences between the two syntaxes.

Heading levels

Markdown makes it difficult to read what section level your at as you go deeper then the 5th heading. On the other hand, Markdown offers a more visual syntax for level 1 headings,

Main Header

and for level 2 headings:

Sub Header

Link Syntax

Some complaints against the Markdown link syntax include forgetting which goes first (the link title or the URL) and what types of brackets are around each. Textile is simpler.

Complaints against Textile include the need to escape a double quote in the link title ("How free markets "address" health care":, and unclear end of links: some parsers may include the final period in "Foo Bar":, while others may not. Markdown is more powerful and clearer.


The Textile markup has longer historical backing with _ and * being used way before HTML to convey "underline" and "bold".

Markdown justifies its choice in the light of semantic markup: thinking in terms of "bold" and "italic" is not semantic; other media (e.g. speech synthesizers for the visually impaired) cannot render "bold" or "italic". The semantic meaning is "emphasis" and "strong emphasis". Markdown is semantic.

Textile doesn't interpret emphasis right inside parentheses: neither (*bold*), nor (_italics_) will be rendered with formatting; instead, the two strings will be output verbatim.

Turning off markup interpretation

Escaping characters

Auto hyperlinking

Definition Lists



Demo: captions, table headers, cell alignment and column spans

Example copied from the MultiMarkdown syntax guide:

Prototype table
First Header Second Header Third Header
Content Long Cell
Content Cell Cell
New section More Data
And more And more




Newlines in lists


Author: Dan Dascalescu
Thanks to Mateu X. Hunter for the initial draft.

Thanks to Mateu X. Hunter for the initial draft.