Building a website in Markdown with Pandoc


Pandoc has built-in support for slideshows and supports several different slideshow standards. Regardless of which output format you wish to use, the format of your source document will be in Markdown.

Begin each slide with a horizontal rule. A slide-level header also starts a new slide. If you want to have notes available while you are present, just add them using the ::: notes tag, closing it with :::.

Adding notes is really simple; styling them is a little trickier – CSS to the rescue. If you are using reveal.js, you set all variables as you would without Pandoc. Otherwise, you can set styling using a directory under your Pandoc $DATA-DIR$ – usually ~/.pandoc; standards are available in the system directory.

The command is the same as usual – just choose the output format you like.

pandoc -t slidy -i -o site/slideshow.html -s

You should be able to pick up more information from the web sites that support the slideshow standards.

Converting to HTML

One command with many input files will create one output file. A more conventional approach is to create one page for each of the parts of your site. This approach also enables blogging-like functions, if you do it right. The simple script for creating multiple output files is shown in Listing 7.

Listing 7

Multiple Output Files

#! /usr/bin/env bash
for page in $(ls pages); do
  pandoc --from markdown_github+smart+yaml_metadata_block+auto_identifiers "pages/$page" \
    -o "public/$(basename $page .md).html" \
    --template templates/page.html\
    -V navigation="$(cat navigation.html)" \
    -V footer="$(cat footer.html)"

To use the script in Listing 7, you have to create the tree structure, including a pages/ directory that has all the pages for your site. On top of the pages/ directory, you have the templates and files that the command references (templates/page.html, navigation.html, and footer.html). The complete code is available online [5].

To take full advantage of these templates, and make your own template, look through the code, and set any necessary variables.


A good front end can make things easier. One such front end is MkPage [6].

The MkPage Project uses Pandoc and its template language and adds a few tools, allowing you to define the entire site in a small project directory. All the tools follow *nix standards. To run MkPage, you set values on the command line that matches the variables in your template file.

You can use all tools in the project separately. Available tools include the main MkPage tool, as well as a tool called BlogIt and others. As you might guess, the BlogIt tool lets you write all your blog posts in Markdown.

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