(2022) Trello Formatting: Markup, Markdown, Code Block & Text Formats

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Trello Tips

Trello is a hierarchical project management program used by millions of people, teams, and businesses around the world to stay on top of their workload. For the most part, Trello is extremely intuitive—everything works how you expect it to. Well, almost everything…

Formatting is something that many new and experienced Trello users struggle with, but it's easy once you get the hang of Trello's Markdown formatting system.

In this article, Blue Cat Reports will be walking you through this system and explaining how you can use it to make twelve key formatting commands within your Trello Card and List descriptions and comments.

Let's get started!

What is a markup language?

A markup language is a system for annotating a text in order to provide instructions to a machine. Markup languages are used for a variety of purposes, including but not limited to:

  • Formatting text for display (e.g., HTML)
  • Describing the structure of a document or database (e.g., XML)
  • Defining the syntax of a programming language (e.g., Python)
  • Marking up machine-readable data for extraction (e.g., BibTeX)

Markup languages are often used in conjunction with other technologies, such as style sheets (for styling text) or scripts (for automating tasks).

What is Markdown syntax?

Markdown is one of the most popular lightweight markup languages in existence. It was created by John Gruber in 2004, with the goal of enabling people “to write using an easy-to-read, easy-to-write plain text format, then convert it to structurally valid XHTML (or HTML)”.

Since its inception, markdown has been adopted by a variety of platforms, websites, and services, including GitHub, Stack Overflow, Reddit, and as you might have guessed from the title, Trello!

In simple terms, Markdown syntax allows users to tag text with formatting commands using systems of symbols and characters (called Markdowns) without immediately rendering those commands.

How does Markdown syntax work?

Before we explain how Markdown syntax systems work, it's important to understand the systems that they replace—What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG). WYSIWYG are formatting systems that instantly render formatting commands. While you may not be familiar with the name, you're definitely familiar with the concept thanks to programs like Microsoft Word and Google Docs.

To make a word bold in Microsoft Word, you need to highlight the word and then either press the bold button or input the bold command (Ctrl + B or Cmd + B). Once you've done this, the text will appear as bold within the document. The same goes for italics, underlining, and all other common formatting commands.

The problem with WYSIWYG systems is that they can be confusing and difficult to use, especially for those who are not familiar with the program's layout or commands. They also tend to take up a lot of screen real estate, making it difficult to see the text you're actually writing.

Enter Markdown syntax. With Markdown, you don't need to highlight text and input specific commands in order to format it. Instead, you simply need to wrap the text in special symbols and characters. For example, to make a word bold in Markdown, you simply need to wrap it in double asterisks. The same goes for italics, underlining, and all other common formatting commands.

This may seem like a trivial difference, but it can actually be a huge improvement over WYSIWYG systems. Not only is markdown easy to use and understand, but it also takes up significantly less screen real estate. This makes it perfect for writing in digital spaces where space is limited (like Trello boards).

Now that we know a little bit more about markup languages and Markdown syntax, let's take a look at how to use them in Trello!

What markdown elements does Trello support?

If you're picky about formatting, you'll be pleased to learn that Trello supports a wide variety of markdown elements, including:

  • Headings
  • Paragraphs
  • Line Breaks
  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Blockquotes
  • Ordered Lists
  • Unordered Lists
  • Code
  • Fenced Code Blocks
  • Horizontal Rules
  • Links
  • Images
  • Strikethrough
  • Emoji

As you can see, that's a pretty long list of markdown elements to choose from. Now, let's go over some key Trello markdown commands, so that you can get formatting!

11 Key Trello Formatting Markdowns

1) Trello Bold Markdown

Making text bold within Trello Boards, Lists, and Cards is incredibly easy. All you need to do is wrap the desired section of text in **double asterisks** or __double underscores__. Any characters within the double asterisks or double underscores will be bolded when the text is submitted for rendering.

Example: **this text is bold** → this text is bold.

2) Trello Italics Markdown

Italicizing text in Trello is very similar to bolding text, except in this case you'll only need to wrap the desired text in *single asterisks* or _single underscores_.

Example: *this text is italicized* → this text is italicized

3) Trello Strike-Through Markdown

Adding strike-through text to your notes and cards is easy with Trello. All you need to do is wrap the desired text in ~~double tildes~~.

Example: this text is ~~struck through~~ → this text is struck through

4) Trello Line Break Markdown

Adding line breaks to text is incredibly easy in Trello. All you need to do is press the Enter key twice and the text will automatically be split into two separate lines. The only requirement in that the line before the break ends with one or more spaces.

5) Trello Header Markdown

If you want to create a header within a Card or List, all you need to do, use the following codes:

  • # [text] → Heading Level 1
  • ## [text] → Heading Level 2
  • ### [text] → Heading Level 3
  • #### [text] → Heading Level 4
  • ##### [text] → Heading Level 5
  • ###### [text] → Heading Level 6

As you can probably see, the number of number signs before the line of text determines what heading level is eventually rendered. When using this Markdown, it's important to remember that the heading will be applied to all text that comes before the next line break after the Markdown.

Example:

Heading Level 1

Heading Level 2

Heading Level 3

Heading Level 4

Heading Level 5
Heading Level 6

6) Trello Ordered List Markdown

Creating ordered lists using Trello's Markdown formatting system is pretty intuitive. Before each item on the list, write a number followed by a period. The numbers don't need to be in order and you can use duplicates if you'd like. However, all ordered lists need to start with the number one. Using the number 1 for all items in the list makes it easy to reorder them, the correct numbers will show in Trello once you fininsh editing.

Example:

Markdown Render
1. First Item
1. Second Item
1. Third Item
  1. First Item
  2. Second Item
  3. Third Item

If you want to indent some line items, simply indent those line items within the Markdown.

Example:

Markdown Render
1. First Item
1. Second Item
  1. First Indent Item
  1. Second Indent Item
1. Third Item
  1. First Item
  2. Second Item
    1. First Indent Item
    2. Second Indent Item
  3. Third Item

7) Trello Unordered List Markdown

Unordered Lists are created by simply adding dashes (-), asterisks (*), or plus signs (+) before each line item. To create a nested list, just indent the desired line items and the Markdown system will take care of the rest!

Example:

Markdown Render
+ First Item
+ Second Item
+ Third Item
  • First Item
  • Second Item
  • Third Item

If you want to indent some line items, all you need to do is indent those line items within the Markdown.

Example:

Markdown Render
+ First Item
+ Second Item
  + First Indent Item
  + Second Indent Item
+ Third Item
  • First Item
  • Second Item
    • First Indent Item
    • Second Indent Item
  • Third Item

8) Trello Code Markdown

Marking a section of text as code within your Card or List, Trello's Markdown system makes it incredibly easy. All you need to do is wrap the desired text in backtick quotes (`).

Example: this is `code` → this is code

9) Trello Insert Link Markdown

Linking to external webpages from within Trello is a breeze with the Markdown system. To create a hyperlink, simply surround the anchor text with square brackets, followed immediately by the URL of the link in parentheses. There shouldn't be a space in between!

Example: [this](https://www.bluecatreports.com) is a link → this is a link

10) Trello Insert Image Markdown

Including images in your Trello Boards, Lists, and Cards is a snap with the Markdown system. To add an image, you'll first need to add an exclamation mark, followed immediately by the URL or path of the image in parentheses.

To add an alt text description, simply wrap the desired description in square brackets and include it before the URL or path section.

Example: ![Blue Cat Reports makes it easy to keep tabs on your team's performance using centralized dashboards.](/images/monthly-analytics.png) →

Blue Cat Reports makes it easy to keep tabs on your team's performance using centralized dashboards.

11) Trello Emoji Markdown

If you want to add an emoji to your text on Trello, all you need to do is wrap the emoji's shortcode inside two colons. In case you're not familiar with emoji shortcodes, they're essentially single words used to represent a specific emoji. Here are a few common examples:

  • :laughing: → 😂
  • :cool: → 😎
  • :dog: → 🐕

Once you enter the wrapped shortcode, Trello will open up an emoji dashboard that allows you to click the exact emoji you're looking for.

Emoji Dashboard sample

Example: this is a :dog: → this is a 🐕

Wrapping Up

That's all there is to it! With these simple markdown commands, you can easily format your Trello Cards and Lists to match your style preferences.

If you’re curious about how Blue Cat Reports can help you get the most out of Trello productivity boosting potential by representing project statistics through beautiful reports and charts, don’t forget to check out our website.

Until next time, happy formatting!

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