Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I make notes in textual format, for example

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

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.

share|improve this question
up vote 27 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


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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  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

  Markdown      -
  Grutatxt      -
  ASCIIDOC      -
  APT           ~~ comments

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

  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

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

  Markdown      -
  Grutatxt      +---+---+
                | a | b |
  ASCIIDOC      ~~~~~
  APT           *---*---+---:

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

  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           ====

  Markdown      -
  Grutatxt      ``words
  ASCIIDOC      -
  APT           -
share|improve this answer
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.

share|improve this answer

Org-mode looks ideal.

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

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.