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Marp creates PDF presentations from Markdown

09 November 2016, Mike Williams

MarpBuilding presentations often involves mastering a heavy-duty GUI: layouts here, color panels there, transition previews, animation and more.

Marp strips all that away, and enables creating presentations with just a little Github-flavored Markdown.

This makes for a very plain, distraction-free interface: just a left-hand pane where you type your code, and a right-hand pane with a preview.

There’s not a lot of help for the Markdown novice. You might automatically select some text and press Ctrl+B to style it, for instance, and that would be easy for the program to detect and convert, but– it doesn’t. The usual Ctrl+B, Ctrl+I and other shortcuts do nothing at all.

Despite that, it doesn’t take long to learn the Markdown basics. To make text italic you surround it with *asterisks*; use two and it becomes **bold**; dashes are used to create bulleted lists (- one, – two, – three); [inline links are easy](; and you get the idea.


Surround math with $a^2$ dollar signs and it’s automatically formatted for you

Other elements are even more obvious. Need to import an image? Just drag and drop it into place.

There’s also an example presentation which highlights Marp’s other abilities, including options to display emoji (:heart: 🙂 etc), insert equations or use an image as a background. And there are custom directives to insert footers and page numbers, apply themes and more.

When you’re done the presentation can be exported as a PDF, ready to be shared with the world.

Marp could be useful as a very simple PDF creator. Once you’ve figured out how to type a caption, drag and drop an image and create a new page (type three dashes — between two empty lines) you can build your document at speed.

The program will mostly appeal to Markdown users who’ll make use of its more advanced features, in particular the KaTeX-powered math typesetting. This really is easy to use: just surround your math with $, like $ax^2+bc+c$ for inline math or $$I_{xx}=\int\int_Ry^2f(x,y)\cdot{}dydx$$ for blocks, and Marp correctly formats the superscripts, integrals and more.

There’s still not much control over layout – it’s very much basics-only – but if you like the keyboard-oriented approach and your needs are simple, it might be a smart choice.

Marp is a free tool for Windows, Linux and Mac.

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