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Notion Markdown Made Easy: A Cheat Sheet For Beginners

Looking to up your Notion game? Markdown is the way to go! This simple text formatting syntax lets you quickly style your notes, lists, headings, and more. But don't worry, it's super easy to learn - especially with this beginner-friendly cheat sheet. Let's dive in!

What is Markdown?

Markdown is a lightweight markup language. That's just fancy words for a simple way to add formatting like bold, italics, headings, and lists to plain text. Instead of clicking tons of buttons or memorizing complex code, you just use special characters like #, *, and -.

Think of it like secret codes that turn boring text into beautifully styled content. Pretty neat, right?

Why Use Markdown in Notion?

Notion already has a nice editing toolbar. So why bother learning markdown? A few great reasons:

  1. It's faster: No clicking around or messing with menus. Just type!
  2. Keyboard friendly: Your fingers never have to leave the keys.
  3. Copy/paste friendly: Markdown looks clean in plain text editors.
  4. Future proof: Markdown is an open standard, so it works across apps.

Plus, once you get the hang of it, markdown just feels more natural for formatting text. Let's learn how it works in Notion!


Headings structure your notes into sections, just like chapter titles in a book. In markdown, you make headings by putting # symbols before the text.

# This is a Level 1 Heading ## This is a Level 2 Heading ### This is a Level 3 Heading

This makes:

This is a Level 1 Heading

This is a Level 2 Heading

This is a Level 3 Heading

You can use up to 6 levels of headings by adding more #s. Easy peasy!

MarkdownRenders As
# Level 1 Heading# Level 1 Heading
## Level 2 Heading## Level 2 Heading
### Level 3 Heading### Level 3 Heading
#### Level 4 Heading#### Level 4 Heading
##### Level 5 Heading##### Level 5 Heading
###### Level 6 Heading###### Level 6 Heading

Quick Tip: Use headings to organize your notes into an outline. Level 1 for main sections, level 2 for sub-sections, and so on. It'll keep things nice and tidy!

Bold and Italics

Time to kick things up a notch with bold and italics. These let you emphasize important terms or add subtle styling.

For bold text, you surround the words with double asterisks:

**This text is bold**

Renders as: This text is bold

For italics, use single asterisks or underscores:

*This is italicized* _This is also italicized_

Renders as: This is italicized and This is also italicized

And if you really want to make things pop, combine them:

**This is _really_ important!**

Renders as: This is really important!

MarkdownRenders As
**Bold text goes here**Bold text goes here
*Italicized text goes here*Italicized text goes here
_Underscores work for italics too_Underscores work for italics too
**This is _really_ important!**This is really important!

Pretty slick, huh? Use bold for titles or key points, and italics for emphasis or examples.


Sometimes you need to quote someone or pull out an important idea. That's what blockquotes are for! Simply put a > symbol before the quoted text:

> This is a blockquote. It pulls out text in a stylish way.

Renders as:

This is a blockquote. It pulls out text in a stylish way.

You can even nest blockquotes or add other styling like bold or italics:

> Here's a quote with **bold** and *italics*. > > It's quoted with another quote inside!

Renders as:

Here's a quote with bold and italics.

It's quoted with another quote inside!

Blockquotes are great for highlighting key points, referencing outside sources, or adding visual interest. Use them to make ideas pop!

MarkdownRenders As
> This is a blockquote> This is a blockquote
> **Bold text** in a quoteBold text in a quote
> *Italics* look nice tooItalics look nice too
> Quotes can be nested \n> > Like this> Quotes can be nested \n> > Like this

Pro Tip: Add a blank line before and after the blockquote to separate it from surrounding text. It looks cleaner that way.


Whether sharing a web page, file, or Notion link, markdown lets you do it cleanly. Just wrap the link text in square brackets, followed by the URL in parentheses:

[Click here to view my website](

Renders as: Click here to view my website

For a Notion link, just paste the link inside the parentheses:

[View the Team Wiki](

Renders as: View the Team Wiki

And you can even give links a title by enclosing it in quotes after the URL:

[Google]( "The Google homepage")

Renders as: Google

MarkdownRenders As
[Text for the link]( for the link
[Notion Link Text]( Link Text
[With Link Title]( "Link tooltip title")With Link Title

Links in markdown keep things looking clean - no messy URLs cluttering up your notes!

Note: Some links may require extra configuration in Notion to work properly depending on permissions.


Lists are a note-taking essential, and markdown makes creating them a snap. For an unordered list, just put a * or - in front of each item:

* Item 1 * Item 2 - Sub-item + Sub-sub-item * Item 3

Renders as:

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
    • Sub-item
      • Sub-sub-item
  • Item 3

For ordered (numbered) lists, use the number followed by a period:

1. First item 2. Second item 3. Third item 1. Indented item 2. Another one

Renders as:

  1. First item
  2. Second item
  3. Third item
    1. Indented item
    2. Another one

You can even mix ordered and unordered lists together by indenting with spaces:

1. Get milk 2. Get eggs - From the farm - Organic if possible 3. Make breakfast

  1. Get milk
  2. Get eggs
    • From the farm
    • Organic if possible
  3. Make breakfast
MarkdownRenders As
* Item 1 \n* Item 2* Item 1 
* Item 2
1. First \n2. Second \n3. Third1. First 
2. Second 
3. Third
1. One \n 2. Two \n - Sublist \n 3. Three1. One 
2. Two 
 - Sublist 
3. Three

Lists are perfect for checklists, instructions, pros and cons, or any group of items. The indentation lets you nest sublists for extra organization too.

Shortcut: In Notion, type "-" followed by space to quickly start an unordered list!

Code Blocks

Developers love markdown for its clean, readable code formatting. If you work with code or just need to display some code examples, this is for you.

To create an inline code snippet, wrap it in backtick quotes:

The `console.log()` function prints output.

Renders as: The console.log() function prints output.

For bigger code snippets, indent every line with at least 4 spaces or surround it with triple backticks:

```javascript function greet() { console.log("Hello World!"); } greet(); ```

Renders as:


function greet() { console.log("Hello World!"); } greet();

You can even specify the programming language after the opening triple-backticks to get syntax highlighting:

```python import random print("Hello World!") print(random.randint(1, 100)) ```

Renders as:


import random print("Hello World!") print(random.randint(1, 100))

Code blocks preserve indentation and formatting, making them essential for tutorials, documentation, or just jotting down code notes.

MarkdownRenders As
Code indented 4 spacesCode indented 4 spaces
python \nimport random\n\nprint(random.randint(1,100)\npython
import random

Beautiful syntax highlighting, no mess - that's what makes code blocks in Markdown so great! Just remember that Notion may require special configuration for some languages.

Horizontal Rules

Sometimes you need a way to visually separate sections or topics in your notes. That's where horizontal rules come in handy.

To create a horizontal line, make a new line and type three or more hyphens, asterisks, or underscores:




Any of those will render as:

Very simple and clean! Horizontal rules add nice visual breaks to divide different topics or ideas in your notes.

MarkdownRenders As

Quick Tip: In Notion, you can also create a horizontal rule by typing "---" at the start of a new line and pressing Enter.


Text is great, but sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. In markdown, you can insert images with a simple syntax:

![Alt text for the image](

This inserts the image located at that URL and uses the "alt text" to describe the image for accessibility purposes.

The alt text will also display if the image fails to load properly. You can also add quotes to give the image a title:

![Self-driving car]( "A computer-driven vehicle")

This renders as:

Show Image

Images make your notes more engaging and can better illustrate complex ideas or products. Use alt text to provide context!

MarkdownRenders As
![A pretty tiger]( Image
![This is alt text]( "This is a tooltip title")Show Image

Note: Images must be publicly accessible online for markdown to display them. For local files, you'll need to upload and link the images first.

See Notion's help guide how to change notion background color for more details.


For presenting data in a grid, you can't beat a good old-fashioned table. And markdown has a nice, clean syntax for creating them:

| Col1 Header | Col2 Header | Col3 Header | |-------------|-------------|-------------| | Row 1 Col 1 | Row 1 Col 2 | Row 1 Col 3 | | Row 2 Col 1 | Row 2 Col 2 | Row 2 Col 3 |

Which renders as:

Col1 HeaderCol2 HeaderCol3 Header
Row 1 Col 1Row 1 Col 2Row 1 Col 3
Row 2 Col 1Row 2 Col 2Row 2 Col 3

Start by defining the column headers separated by pipe | characters. Then insert a row of |---| cells under the headers to create the horizontal lines.

After that, just add rows for your data, separating the cells in each row with | pipes. Pipes on the left and right edges are optional, but help keep things lined up.

You can even use inline formatting like **bold** or _italics_ within the table cells.

SyntaxRendered Table
<code>| Fruit | Color | \n|------|-------|\n| Apple | Red |\n| Lemon | Yellow |</code><table><tr><th>Fruit</th><th>Color</th></tr><tr><td>Apple</td><td><b>Red</b></td></tr><tr><td>Lemon</td><td><i>Yellow</i></td></tr></table>

Tables keep your data organized and easy to scan in plain text. It's a great way to present specs, features, or any other info that fits in rows & columns.


For to-do lists, checklists are a perfect way to keep track of tasks in Notion. Just make an unordered list, but preface the items with [ ] brackets:

- [ ] Wake up - [x] Eat breakfast - [ ] Go to work - [x] Prep meeting notes - [ ] Lead standup

Renders as:

  •  Wake up
  •  Eat breakfast
  • Go to work
    •  Prep meeting notes
    •  Lead standup

The [ ] shows an empty checkbox, while [x] is a checked item. Simple but powerful!

You can nest checklists within one another using indentation like with regular lists. Checklists are great for:

  • Project planning and task tracking
  • Packing lists for trips
  • Grocery lists
  • Daily routines and habits
  • Coursework or training steps

Checking off items as you complete them gives a satisfying feeling of progress and accomplishment.

MarkdownRenders As
- [ ] An unchecked task- [ ] An unchecked task
- [x] Completed task- [x] Completed task
- [ ] \n - [x] Nested checklist- [ ] 
- [x] Nested checklist

Tip: To move items in a checklist, you can cut/copy the entire line (including the - [x] or - [ ]) and paste it where you want!


Sometimes you need to add a little side note or reference without distracting from the main text. That's where footnotes come in1!

To create a footnote in markdown, first insert the footnote reference marker wherever you want it to appear in your text. This is just a caret ^ followed by an identifier (number, word, or other symbol).

Here is some text with a footnote reference marker.[^1] And another footnote for good measure.[^footnote]

Then, at the bottom of your text, add the footnote definitions by redeclaring the marker, this time followed by a colon and the footnote text:

[^1]: This is the text that gets displayed as a footnote. [^footnote]: You can use any word or symbol as the footnote marker.

The resulting text will look like this:

Here is some text with a footnote reference marker.1
And another footnote for good measure.2

Footnotes will automatically be numbered sequentially in the order they appear. They're great for adding citations, references, or parenthetical explanations without cluttering the main content.

Notion doesn't have built-in footnote styling, but you can fake the effect using blockquotes or indentation. Not as smooth as dedicated footnote syntax but it gets the job done!

How to Customize Notion Colors

Now that you've got the markdown essentials down, let's talk about customizing the look and feel of your Notion workspace with some color changes.

While Notion doesn't allow custom themes or global color changes, you can adjust the colors for individual pages, blocks, and UI elements. This lets you add some personal flair or make things easier on the eyes.

Change Page Background Color

To update the background color of an entire page:

  1. Click the 3-dot menu in the top right of the page
  2. Select "Add Cover"
  3. Then choose the color tint or image you want for the background

You can also change the color tint of any image you set as a page cover. Just right-click the cover image and select "Change color".

Color Code Blocks and Pages

For more targeted color changes, try tinting specific blocks like headings, text, or to-do lists. Just select the block(s) you want to colorize, then click the fill color icon in the formatting toolbar.

You can also select an entire page at once and colorize it. This is a nice way to help certain pages or topics visually stand out from the rest.

As an example, here's some <span style="color:green">green text</span>, a <span style="background-color:yellow;padding:5px">yellow highlighted section</span>, and an entire <div style="background-color:lightblue;padding:10px;border-radius:5px">baby blue container div</div>.

Play around and see what color combinations work best for your vision and content needs. A little color can make a big difference!

Change Button Color

When it comes to jazzing up buttons in Notion, there are a few different options:

  • Button Covers: You can customize the button itself by coloring its cover image
  • Link Colors: For buttons created as links, you can style the link/text color
  • Block Colors: Tinting the blocks that contain or surround the button element

On clickable elements like buttons, the colors you've set will typically shift darker on hover or click to create a nice visual effect.

See how to change the background color on Notion in their official help guide for more details and examples.

Additional Style Customizations

Beyond colors, you have a few other ways to customize styles in Notion:

  • Page Icons: Upload a custom icon or emoji to represent your page
  • Cover Images: Set a full custom cover image for each page
  • Fonts: Notion lets you choose between around 10 different font options
  • Indentation and Line Spacing: Adjust the text spacing to your preference

Just remember that most style changes in Notion are page-level only. There's no way to set global visual themes or fully custom CSS (yet).

But between all the color tinting, icons, covers, and text formatting - there's already quite a bit you can do to put your own spin on Notion's look and feel!

Notion Markdown Power User Tips

You've made it to the end - congrats! You now have all the essential markdown knowledge to start rocking in Notion.

To wrap things up, here are a few bonus tips for leveling up your markdown game even further:

Master the Shortcuts

The more you use markdown, the more you'll appreciate its keyboard-driven nature. Notion has a bunch of great hotkeys and autocompleters to speed things up:

  • --- then Enter inserts a horizontal rule
  • - then space starts an unordered list
  • 1. then space starts an ordered list
  • > then space starts a blockquote
  • [] wrapped selected text with link markers
  • ** or _ wrapped selection bolds/italics
  • # inserting pound symbols creates headings
  • Typing / shows a command palette with tons of formatting options

Speaking of keyboard shortcuts, here's a handy cheatsheet of how to color notion

The more you embrace the hotkeys, the faster your Notion workflow will become. It really supercharges the experience.

Combine for Maximum Effect

Markdown shines when you start combining all the elements together. Headings, bullets, links, code blocks, and formatted text can create some seriously pro-level documentation:

# My Project Plan ## Overview This project aims to **revolutionize** the note-taking game! Here are the key _requirements_: - [ ] Conduct market research - [ ] Define product requirements - [ ] Interview target users - [x] Study competition - [ ] Design & architect solution The app will be built using [React]( and integrate with popular cloud services like: - [Notion]( - [Dropbox]( - [Google Drive](

See how everything flows together in one cohesive, human-readable document? That's the true power of markdown.

Embrace the Plaintext

One last piece of advice: get comfortable working in a pure plaintext writing environment. Notion's WYSIWYG rich-text editing is great, but there's an elegance to distraction-free markdown.

Plus, because it's just text, markdown files are:

  • Portable between apps
  • Futureproof and vendor-neutral
  • Easier to version control
  • Lightweight to store and share

Many pro writers & developers swear by a simple markdown editor like iA Writer or Obsidian for their daily work. Then they can copy/paste that markdown anywhere.

The bottom line: don't be afraid to go full plaintext in Notion from time to time! It declutters your mind and lets you focus solely on the content itself.

Bringing It All Together

There you have it - a comprehensive guide to using markdown formatting in Notion! We covered:

  • What markdown is and why it's awesome for Notion
  • Headings, bold/italics, blockquotes, and links
  • Lists (ordered, unordered, and checklists)
  • Code snippets and code blocks
  • Horizontal rules and images
  • Tables for grid data layouts
  • Footnotes for references
  • How to customize colors in Notion
  • Pro tips for shortcuts, combining elements, and plaintext

Notion's integration with markdown syntax opens up so many possibilities for cleaner, richer note-taking and writing. Hopefully this guide has equipped you with the know-how to take full advantage!

The best way to solidify these skills is to just start using markdown day-to-day. It may feel clumsy at first, but soon formatting text will become like second nature. The payoff in consistency and efficiency makes it so worth it.

So what are you waiting for? Open up a fresh Notion page, crack those knuckles, and start typing out some sweet, sweet markdown! With this cheatsheet, you've got all the essentials to turn your notes and docs into formatting wizardry.

Happy coding, errr, writing! Markdown makes it all the same in the end. And seriously - hit me up with your favorite markdown tips or Notion hacks. I'm a formatting nerd at heart and always eager to learn more ninja tricks!

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