Markdown Code Block: Including Code In .md Files

Markdown has support for code blocks. There are three ways to include A Markdown code block in your document:

  1. Inline code blocks
  2. Fenced code blocks
  3. Indented code blocks

In this article, I’ll demonstrate all three ways to include code in a Markdown document.

Markdown inline code block

For starters, Markdown allows you to include inline code in your document. Inline code is surrounded by backticks (`). For example:

Use `print("Hello, world!")` to print a message to the screen.

Inline code is useful to mention a piece of code in a document. For example, you might want to mention the print function in a document like above. Most of the time, this code won’t be highlighted by the syntax highlighter, however.

Fenced code blocks

A fenced code block is a block of code that is surrounded by three backticks (“`) and an optional language specifier. In the most basic form, you can leave out the language specifier. For example:

Some regular text here, and here's the code example:

print("Hello, world!")
for i in range(10):

Enable syntax highlighting

To enable syntax highlighting for your Markdown code block, you need to specify the language right after the first three backticks, like so:

Some regular text here, and here's the code example:

print("Hello, world!")
for i in range(10):

Both examples above will be rendered as a code block in the document. If a language is specified like in the first example, the syntax highlighter will be enabled for the selected language.

For a list of commonly available languages, see to list at the bottom of this article.

Indented code blocks

If fenced code blocks are an option for your specific Markdown parser, I recommend using them because you can specify the language of the code block.

The most basic markdown syntax for indented code blocks is to start a line with four spaces. This will be rendered as a code block in the document and is supported by all Markdown parsers. For example:

Here's some regular text. And now a code block:

    print("Hello, world!")
    if True:

The upside of this method is that it is supported by pretty much all Markdown parsers, as far as I know. However, there are some downsides to using indented code blocks as well:

  • You can’t specify a language, so most likely you won’t have syntax highlighting.
  • Indented code blocks are less convient to insert in your document.

If possible, I strongly suggest using fenced code blocks.

Markdown code block language list

Which languages are supported, heavily depends on the Markdown parser you’re using. What follows here, is a list of many common languages and formats that you can try. If your language isn’t in here, I suggest you simply try if it is supported. Alternatively, visit the documentation of your specific Markdown.

Here’s the list of commonly supported languages on sites like GitHub:

  • actionscript3
  • apache
  • applescript
  • asp
  • brainfuck
  • c
  • cfm
  • clojure
  • cmake
  • coffee-script, coffeescript, coffee
  • cpp – C++
  • cs
  • csharp
  • css
  • csv
  • bash
  • diff
  • elixir
  • erb – HTML + Embedded Ruby
  • go
  • haml
  • http
  • java
  • javascript
  • json
  • jsx
  • less
  • lolcode
  • make – Makefile
  • markdown
  • matlab
  • nginx
  • objectivec
  • pascal
  • PHP
  • Perl
  • python
  • profile – python profiler output
  • rust
  • salt, saltstate – Salt
  • shell, sh, zsh, bash – Shell scripting
  • scss
  • sql
  • svg
  • swift
  • rb, jruby, ruby – Ruby
  • smalltalk
  • vim, viml – Vim Script
  • volt
  • vhdl
  • vue
  • xml – XML and also used for HTML with inline CSS and Javascript
  • yaml

Learn more

Make sure to also check out my Markdown cheat sheet for a quick overview of what’s possible. You might also like to read more about including Markdown tables in your document, and my tricks to center stuff in Markdown.