Is there an official file extension for standalone Markdown files?

  • 9
    Does anyone use filename.md.txt in the same way as filename.rst.txt? It indicates that it's markdown format, but also falls back to plain text if you don't have something to handle markdown. GitHub recognizes .rst.txt, but not .md.txt: gist.github.com/2770487
    – endolith
    May 22 '12 at 17:44
  • 2
    If you plan on storing these files on a Windows machine then I'd stick with an <= 3 character extension. This makes .md and .mkd the only commonly used options. Of those .md is FAR more popular so I highly suggest using that. Don't worry about machine descriptor files; they aren't that widely used and they should be perfectly editable in a Markdown Editor (just ignore the preview portion of the editor).
    – krowe2
    Oct 27 '14 at 20:24

There is no requirement for a Markdown file extension, as other answers have explained. But in order for editors or parsers to guarantee that the file they are using is Markdown-formatted, they would look for one of the following extensions:


There are websites such as GitHub that only use a selection of these extensions for converting to HTML so developers will conform to their standard. (see examples below)

Personally, I have seen .markdown and .mdown used the most, and as a Linux user I would avoid using .md as this can also be a machine description file for compiling code with GCC.

Examples of extension usage:

GitHub: markdown, mdown, mkdn, mkd, md (source)

Elements Markdown Editor: markdown, mdown, mdwn, md

Vim markdown: markdown, mdown, mkdn, mdwn, mkd, md

Bitbucket: markdown, mdown, mkdn, mkd, md, text (source)

R Studio: Rmd

Further Reading

There is a Markdown mailing list that has interesting discussions about this topic: 1, 2.

And especially revealing is one of the explanations:

Markdown isn't meant to take over the format of a file, it's a way to subtly add information to the plaintext. Really, the presence of Markdown is metadata, not a file format.
No one opening a text file will be confused if they find Markdown syntax, it's pure bonus.

In this sense, it makes sense to use ".text", ".txt", or whatever other plaintext extension is relevant.
An editor which knows nothing about Markdown won't care about the metadata and won't be confused by the variety of "non-standard" extensions, but will display and edit the plaintext just fine.


The idea of MarkDown and similar light-weight markups is to be readable as plain text, thus they have text/plain extension (.txt or .text).

However, there are some people who use .markdown or .mdown.

  • 2
    Just for the record, Elements for the iPhone recognizes .md, .markdown, .mdown, .mdwn and .text
    – Beat Rupp
    Feb 26 '11 at 10:31
  • 4
    vim 7.3 recognizes .markdown and .mdown, so .markdown is the most descriptive one. May 19 '11 at 11:19
  • 1
    Kohana uses .md Jul 24 '11 at 11:33
  • 3
    I've seen a couple of .md in GitHub too, and my Vim at the office recognizes it as Markdown (I've to check why it doesn't at home).
    – Wernight
    Jul 27 '11 at 6:17
  • 1
    This answer is not as extensive / complete as the one with the most votes.
    – svandragt
    Aug 25 '11 at 12:01

I'm not aware of one, but I think a precedent is set by the use of the .text extension on the official website to reveal the Markdown that produces the pages.

  • 3
    Just because the official website uses it doesn't mean it's a good idea, though. .text means plain text, not markdown.
    – endolith
    May 22 '12 at 19:36

iA Writer uses the extension .md for Markdown content.


Doxygen added Markdown support in v1.8. It looks for .md or .markdown file extensions.


In short, the answer is no.

If you are simply using markdown files as stand-alone files that will not be processed in any way, name them however you please. If you are using them in a system the processes them into HTML or PDF or some other format, then you need to figure out what file extensions that system expects for markdown files.

Also, in the context of a UNIX system, file extensions are not even mandatory. You could simply have a file called "README" in markdown format.

  • But file will only tell you that it is ASCII text, which does not tell me that I can run it through markdown. Jun 8 '11 at 19:21

As an addition to Cas' very good answer I'd like to mention that his link to the github repository of Vim markdown is somewhat deprecated.

The user plasticboy was the original creator of Vim Markdown but it is currently developed and uploaded to the vim scripts site by Hallison Batista and others.

For example one user did a fork to support Gollum links.


Hmm... Geany, the open source IDE, when saving a Markdown formatted file, uses the .mdml extension. Strange that it seems to be the only one...

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