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I make notes in textual format, for example

## TODO list
1. do this
2. do that

## SOMETHING
### ANYTHING
1. do this
2. do that 

Are there tools to change this text into HTML or LaTeX format? I find Sphinx, as it's for Python code formatting, it would be great there's a tool for more general text formatting.

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up vote 28 down vote accepted

I suggest starting by looking at Markdown, Textile and Grutatxt. But there are many:

List of plain-text markup and tools

Other lists

Grutatxt

I like Grutatxt because it seems to me to be nearest to unadorned plain text and so the plain text is very readable. I use GrutaTxt to generate HTML and PDF (via LaTeX) It handles tables quite well which Markdown doesn't so far as I know. I have a Perl script to add a table of contents and plug in a CSS stylesheet. I use recode to convert character encodings to UTF8. I have all this in a simple makefile so I can just edit the text file and type make to publish it as a web page (and PDF simultaneously).

Comparison of markup for GrutaTxt, ASCIIDOC and APT

NL = new line, SP = space character(s)

Title
  Markdown      Title NL =====
  Grutatxt      Title NL =====
  ASCIIDOC      Title NL =====
  APT           --- NL Title NL --- NL Author NL --- NL Date

H1
  Markdown      Head NL ====   or # Head #
  Grutatxt      Head NL ====
  ASCIIDOC      Head NL ----   or   == Head
  APT           * Head

H2
  Markdown      Head NL ----   or ## Head ##
  Grutatxt      Head NL ----
  ASCIIDOC      Head NL ~~~~   or   === Head
  APT           ** Head

H3
  Markdown      ### Head ###
  Grutatxt      Head NL ~~~~
  ASCIIDOC      head NL ^^^^   or   ==== Head
  APT           *** Head

H4
  Markdown      -
  Grutatxt      -
  ASCIIDOC      Head NL ++++   or   ===== Head
  APT           **** Head       

Bold
  Markdown      **word**
  Grutatxt      *word*
  ASCIIDOC      .word
  APT           <<word>>

Italic
  Markdown      *word*
  Grutatxt      _word_
  ASCIIDOC      -
  APT           <word>

Code
  Markdown      `words`
  Grutatxt      `words'
  ASCIIDOC      `words`
  APT           <<<words>>>

Line Break
  Markdown      words SP SP NL
  Grutatxt      -
  ASCIIDOC      -
  APT           words \ NL words

Non breaking space
  Markdown      -
  Grutatxt      -
  ASCIIDOC      -
  APT           word\ word

Comment
  Markdown      -
  Grutatxt      -
  ASCIIDOC      -
  APT           ~~ comments

HyperLink
  Markdown      [name](http://a.b.c)
  Grutatxt      http://a.b.c(name)
  ASCIIDOC      <<a.b.c, name>>
  APT           http://a.b.c
                {{{http://a.b.c}name}}

Anchor
  Markdown      -
  Grutatxt      -
  ASCIIDOC      [[name]]
  APT           {name}

Unordered List
  Markdown      SP SP - words
  Grutatxt      SP * words
  ASCIIDOC      SP - words
  APT           SP * words

Ordered List
  Markdown      SP SP 1. words
  Grutatxt      SP # words
  ASCIIDOC      -
  APT           [[1]] words

Definition
  Markdown      -
  Grutatxt      SP * term: definition
  ASCIIDOC      term:: NL definition
  APT           [term] definition

Table
  Markdown      -
  Grutatxt      +---+---+
                | a | b |
                +---+---+
  ASCIIDOC      ~~~~~
                h,h,h
                ~~~~~
                a,b,c
                d,e,f
                ~~~~~
  APT           *---*---+---:
                |ctr|lft|rgt|
                *---*---+---:
                caption

Image
  Markdown      ![alt](http://a.b.c.png)
  Grutatxt      << NL <img src="cow.jpg" /> NL >>
  ASCIIDOC      -
  APT           [cow.jpg] caption

Preformatted
  Markdown      SP SP SP SP words    or <pre> NL words NL </pre>
  Grutatxt      SP words
  ASCIIDOC      SP words
  APT           --- NL words NL ---

Horizontal Rule
  Markdown      NL ------ NL      
  Grutatxt      ____
  ASCIIDOC      -
  APT           ====

Citation
  Markdown      -
  Grutatxt      ``words
  ASCIIDOC      -
  APT           -
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reStructuredText are most featured test formating project. PDF/HTML/slides. TOC, offline indexes, printed books. Can be converted to any other format by Pandoc. Just don't use weak Markdown formating... – gavenkoa Nov 14 '12 at 9:56

Another format is Textile. Markdown is more or less comme il faut.

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Org-mode looks ideal.

Your markup is already very similar, and org-mode has many output formats including those matching your requirements.

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