Zettelkasten Forum


Reading the forums here and checking other sites there seems quite common to pick markdown as the format to keep files in pure text. Has anyone considered something like Asciidoc as an alternative?

Some direct benefits I can see directly from just reading the documentation is...

  • Well documented text format
  • One text format (as markdown has no standard several formats exist)
  • The possibility to include other files as content

Anyone who has considered it and/or have any thoughts on why not to use it?


  • I assume that you have seen the previous discussion about Asciidoc and The Archive: Support for Asciidoc? In that discussion @mediapathic said "Markdown does everything I need, and more software understands it" and @ctietze said "Markdown is great for general-purpose note-taking already."

    All the benefits of Asciidoc that you listed above are available in some other markup languages, so those benefits do not uniquely differentiate Asciidoc. I would echo what @mediapathic and @ctietze said in the previous discussion about Asciidoc: You will want to consider exactly what your needs are, which software tools you prefer to use, and which markup language meets your needs and is supported by your preferred software (with any features you may desire such as syntax highlighting, previewing, converting to other formats, etc.).

    Asciidoc and the many flavors of Markdown (such as Pandoc vs MultiMarkdown) are just a few of the many lightweight markup languages available, including Org-mode, reStructuredText, Textile, etc. See the Wikipedia articles Lightweight markup language, Markup language, and Comparison of document-markup languages for tables comparing the syntax and features of some of them. There are also some interesting special-purpose lightweight markup languages such as Argdown, discussed in: Argdown – Simple syntax for complex argumentation.

    Although some flavor of Markdown is a common choice for general-purpose note-taking, many other markup languages such as Asciidoc could be used, depending on your needs and your software ecosystem. I made the perhaps surprising choice to use HTML, which I have been happily using as my note format for years: I write and view my notes in rich-text editors (primarily TextEdit and DEVONthink), while I can still easily make batch changes to all the files using regular expressions, and I can easily convert the files to other markup languages using Pandoc. Asciidoc is supported as an input format by Pandoc too, so if you started using Asciidoc and wanted to change to a different markup language later, or convert some notes for a project written in another markup language, it would likely be easy to convert your notes using Pandoc.

    As @ctietze suggested in How to Program Yourself for Productivity and Stop Searching for the Ideal Software, the markup language doesn't really matter (within the constraints mentioned above) as long as you apply your note-taking method consistently.

  • @juman said:

    • The possibility to include other files as content

    I unsurprisingly agree with everything @Andy said above, but also want to ask what inclusion you want that doesn't fall within the various markdown transclusion options?

  • I should note that I was wrong above when I said that "Asciidoc is supported as an input format by Pandoc"; it appears that Asciidoc is currently only supported by Pandoc as an output format. Of course, the asciidoc command-line tool can convert to formats that Pandoc supports as input formats.

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