html-code Your favorite articles about document markup

We shared many articles this year about document markup systems. These are five articles that were popular with our readers.

Document markup and document preparation systems have been around for as long as writers have leveraged computers for technical and professional writing. With document markup, writers include special codes (sometimes called requests or tags) that instruct a processing system to create specific formatting. For example, the <i> tag in HTML defines italics text (more typically used as <em> in modern HTML to provide emphasis). In LaTeX, the \textit{..} instruction does the same thing. Other markup systems like groff and Markdown have their own special codes for this and other formatting.

We shared many articles from our community about different markup systems. These are always popular with our readers. Here are five articles about document markup that were the most popular this year:

1. Mastering Markdown with MarkText

Markdown is a universal method for composing text, employing concise notation to apply to style. For instance, rather than relying on a button click in a desktop word processor to emphasize a word, you envelop the word with two asterisks, such as **word** to make a word bold. For writers who use Markdown to create documentation, Don Watkins shared this introduction to using MarkText, an open source platform equipped with features that streamline Markdown writing while presenting an unobtrusive interface.

2. How to write with Docbook

Docbook XML is a verbose markup language, allowing text to be extensively tagged and classified, which in turn ensures that the context of writing is preserved across transformation. Docbook isn't software, nor even a markup language. It's a schema, which means it's a set of rules for writing XML using specific markup tags. Seth Kenlon shared this excellent article about how to get started with writing documents in Docbook, and how to transform a Docbook source file into a final output format.

3. Getting started with LaTeX

The LaTeX document preparation system is a popular markup language for scientific and engineering documents. LaTeX provides a fairly straightforward syntax that makes it easy to write sophisticated documents including articles and books. Jim Hall wrote this primer to help authors learn how to write with LaTeX, including common formatting. Also look for Jim's other articles about LaTeX, including a series of "by example" articles that demonstrate how to apply LaTeX to create different kinds of documents.

4. DITA topics with Oxygen XML Editor

DITA is a markup system that solves the "copy/paste" problem. If your work involves remixing and reusing content to create new documents, then DITA may be the solution you are looking for. With DITA, you separate contents into different topics such as Concepts, Tasks, and References, then use a DITA Map file to produce final output such as PDF, EPUB, or a website. Robin Bland wrote a series of articles about using Oxygen XML Editor to create and manage DITA-based projects. This first article in the series explores how to use Oxygen to work with DITA topics.

5. An introduction to groff -mom

The original Unix nroff and groff document preparation system provided a flexible and powerful language to create technical and professional documents such as articles, books, and memos. Over time, others created macro packages to create different kinds of printed material using troff and its open source successor groff. One popular modern macro package is Mom, by Peter Schaffter. Peter shared this article to introduce authors to the Mom system.