mscharhag, Programming and Stuff;

A blog about programming and software development topics, mostly focused on Java technologies including Java EE, Spring and Grails.

Monday, 29 February, 2016

Converting Markdown to PDF or DOCX with Pandoc

Markdown is a popular text formatting syntax among developers these days. Popular Sites like Github or Bitbucket use Markdown for project documentation and various other types of user generated content. These sites automatically convert markdown syntax to HTML, so it can be displayed in a browser.

However, maybe you want to use Markdown as document format without using a platform that does the conversion for you. Or you are in need of an output format other than HTML. In this case you need a tool that can convert markdown to the desired target format. Pandoc is is a document conversion tool that can be used for exactly this (and a lot of other things). With Pandoc you can convert Markdown documents to PDF, HTML, Words DOCX or many other formats.

After installing Pandoc, you can simply run it from command line.

Note: By default, Pandoc uses LaTeX to generate PDF documents. So, if you want to generate PDF documents, you need to install a LaTex processor first (list of required LaTeX packages).

To convert a Markdown file into a PDF document, the following command can be used:

pandoc -s -o doc.pdf

Pandoc is able to merge multiple Markdown files into a single PDF document. To generate a single PDF document out of two Markdown files you can use:

pandoc -s -o doc.pdf

By default the page margins in the resulting PDF document are quite large. You can change this by passing a margin parameter:

pandoc -s -V geometry:margin=1in -o documentation.pdf

To create HTML or DOCX documents you simply have to change the file extension of the target file:

pandoc -s -o doc.html
pandoc -s -o doc.docx

The resulting documents are well formatted. The following two screenshot show a DOCX and a PDF document created out of two small example markdown files:

Resulting DOCX document:

Word docx document generated by Pandoc

Resulting PDF document:

Pdf document generated by Pandoc



  • Jon - Sunday, 18 September, 2016

    "By default, Pandoc uses LaTeX to generate PDF documents." can CSS be used to style pdfs?

  • Elena - Wednesday, 12 August, 2020

    Hi, Michael! If you need to convert Markdown file to DOCX, you can use Writage plugin for MS Word. It allows to open, edit and save your MD files as DOCX (or DOCX as MD files) from the MS Word.

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