What's your most commonly used writing format?

I’m not sure how to answer this. I only do a small part of my writing in DT; that part I mostly do in RTF (and it’s not so much writing as copy-and-paste of source material). I do virtually all of my computer-based writing in Markdown and TeX/LaTeX; DT is the only place where I use RTF. I’d prefer to avoid RTF (I prefer semantic formatting), but I only use DT for things that aren’t complicated and where I want to quickly see the formatting preserved from a source—typically copy-and-paste work from web pages.

Outside of DT, for Markdown I use Typora (exceptionally good WYSIWYG-like Markdown editor, including support for LaTeX-style math, outlining, flexible exporting…) and Joplin (for short, topical reference notes instead of standalone documents), and for TeX/LaTeX I use a code editor (Sublime or BBEdit). When writing Markdown, I just don’t like the way DT supports it; I much prefer Typora’s approach.

I also use reST for software documentation (via Sphinx). Alas, there doesn’t appear to be such a thing as a good rendering reST editor (would like to learn of one if a reader knows of one!).

With MathJax on, DT’s Markdown engine behaves erratically for me. Just the following small bit of math appears to trip it (so the rendered view is just blank):

This is inline math: $a=b^2$; and this is a displayed eqn:
a^2 + b^2 = c^2.

It renders fine (and instantly) in Typora. I haven’t reported it because I just don’t use DT for Markdown, so I haven’t taken the time to try to see if I have some setting off.

.rtfd - though I’m not super happy with it, still lately I stick to it.
I love makrdown for multiple reasons, but when it comes to Devonthink I have some inconveniences, like:

  1. if for some reason I need to move the .md file to some other folder, the pictures (which reside usually in img folder) wont be moved automatically, so I’ll end up with broken links in the new location

  2. the devonthink markdown editor still not developed as I would like to. Usually when I do write in markdown I open document in Sublime…

…and it depends on who is going to consume what I’m producing. If it’s coworkers, then it’s going to end up as a Word document, but if it’s just me, then it’s going to be in MD.

1 Like

Generally, for others to access my documents,
I export from Devonthink
to a network/internet location
in pdf format

1 Like

Almost all my writing starts out as Markdown for all the usual reasons - portability, vendor independence, easily converted to other formats in automateable ways.

Increasingly, though, my technical writing ends up in AsciiDoc syntax for publication, both in print analog like PDF or on the web. The good news is that Markdown fully converts to AsciiDoc, and there are good tools that can be used in a publication CI chain to do the conversion. A typical workflow for me would be to create notes and snippets in Markdown using Drafts, filing those in DT, organizing the snippets into a chapter / paragraph structure in DT (sometimes with a trip into MindNode to create a structure), and then converting the chapter to AsciiDoc and putting it into the content management CI workflow.

So, I’ll suggest AsciiDoc as a dark horse format candidate. I’d also be interested in knowing if others in this Forum are using AsciiDoc.

1 Like

Markdown everywhere. Specifically, CommonMark (the closest thing to a standard), with GitHub flavored Markdown extensions. (GFM being based on CommonMark.)

CommonMark for personal notes, for web pages, for work. Sometimes I need to produce a document in Google Docs, and Markdown to pandoc to docx to docs produces way better results quickly than I could ever achieve using Google Docs’ janky editor. (It’s 2023 and you still can’t put a vector image in a Google Docs document.)

Sometimes there are weirdnesses with how DEVONthink formats CommonMark, and the checkbox support is a bit disappointing (renders bullets as well as checkboxes, can’t just check things off), but overall it’s good enough and way better than dealing with rich text.


Although I’m not the OP, I just want to say thank you to everyone for all the replies to this question and how mostly unconfrontational the tone has been.

1 Like

It’s a mix for me, primarily OmniOutliner as I like the structure and the ability to close down of focus on sections. Other than that, if I’m writing technical notes it’s Markdown but I prefer iA Writer as an editor over the one in DT.

I like this thread, I was pleased to see it on the front page again. I’m nosy and like to see what everyone else is up to :joy:

I am not sure anyone has answered your question satisfactorily. But perhaps we cannot because so much of this is just personal preference. I suspect we do all use it in part because we’re nerds and we can (ask someone who doesn’t care about computers if they’ve heard of Markdown…).

For me personally I like that there’s no hidden formatting, that the content is safe, and that I’m not locked into a specific piece of software. In my working environment I use Google Docs, which merrily adds whatever formatting it likes behind the scenes and does lock you in unless you make a point of exporting to another format (ok it’s not that bad, but copy and pasting to another editor is a pain and you have to be so careful with formatting). I appreciate that I don’t have to worry about that with markdown.

I’m starting to also appreciate that some apps will accept incoming markdown and render it correctly. E.g. I can bring markdown into Google Docs and it will render it, I can paste to Slack and it will render it, etc. I don’t use this as much yet, but I appreciate that my text is travelling about in the format I intended. (E.g. in contrast, you lose formatting if you copy from Apple Notes, and as mentioned above Google is naughty and often carries hidden formatting.)

I also like that it’s pretty much universal. I can give a Markdown file to almost anyone and I know their device will probably be able to open it. Even now at work I will occasionally have to open a Pages file for a Windows colleague and convert it to a format they can use (it’s not just assuming people have the right device/software of course, it’s also assuming they’re running a current version, and that the file itself is somewhat recent - this is not always true!).


You’re right, but you made a significant contribution towards it. Thank you for your response!