Markdown linting and style checking for Visual Studio Code


Markdown linting and style checking for Visual Studio Code


The Markdown markup language is designed to be easy to read, write, and understand. It succeeds - and its flexibility is both a benefit and a drawback. Many styles are possible, so formatting can be inconsistent. Some constructs don't work well in all parsers and should be avoided. For example, here are some common/troublesome Markdown constructs.

markdownlint is a Visual Studio Code extension that includes a library of rules to encourage standards and consistency for Markdown files. It is powered by markdownlint for Node.js which is based on markdownlint for Ruby.


  1. Open Visual Studio Code
  2. Press Ctrl+P to open the Quick Open dialog
  3. Type ext install markdownlint to find the extension
  4. Click the Install button, then the Enable button


  1. Press Ctrl+Shift+X to open the Extensions tab
  2. Type markdownlint to find the extension
  3. Click the Install button, then the Enable button


  1. Open a command-line prompt
  2. Run code --install-extension DavidAnson.vscode-markdownlint


When editing a Markdown file in Code with markdownlint installed, any lines that violate one of markdownlint's rules (see below) will trigger a Warning in the editor. Warnings are indicated by a wavy green underline and can also be seen by pressing Ctrl+Shift+M to open the Errors and Warnings dialog. Hover the mouse pointer over a green line to see the warning or press F8 and Shift+F8 to cycle through all the warnings (markdownlint warnings all begin with MD###). For more information about a markdownlint warning, place the cursor on a line and click the light bulb icon or press Ctrl+. to open the code action dialog. Clicking one of the warnings in the dialog will display that rule's help entry in the default web browser.

For a tutorial, please see Build an Amazing Markdown Editor Using Visual Studio Code and Pandoc by Dave Johnson.


  • MD001 header-increment - Header levels should only increment by one level at a time
  • MD002 first-header-h1 - First header should be a top level header
  • MD003 header-style - Header style
  • MD004 ul-style - Unordered list style
  • MD005 list-indent - Inconsistent indentation for list items at the same level
  • MD006 ul-start-left - Consider starting bulleted lists at the beginning of the line
  • MD007 ul-indent - Unordered list indentation
  • MD009 no-trailing-spaces - Trailing spaces
  • MD010 no-hard-tabs - Hard tabs
  • MD011 no-reversed-links - Reversed link syntax
  • MD012 no-multiple-blanks - Multiple consecutive blank lines
  • MD013 line-length - Line length
  • MD014 commands-show-output - Dollar signs used before commands without showing output
  • MD018 no-missing-space-atx - No space after hash on atx style header
  • MD019 no-multiple-space-atx - Multiple spaces after hash on atx style header
  • MD020 no-missing-space-closed-atx - No space inside hashes on closed atx style header
  • MD021 no-multiple-space-closed-atx - Multiple spaces inside hashes on closed atx style header
  • MD022 blanks-around-headers - Headers should be surrounded by blank lines
  • MD023 header-start-left - Headers must start at the beginning of the line
  • MD024 no-duplicate-header - Multiple headers with the same content
  • MD025 single-h1 - Multiple top level headers in the same document
  • MD026 no-trailing-punctuation - Trailing punctuation in header
  • MD027 no-multiple-space-blockquote - Multiple spaces after blockquote symbol
  • MD028 no-blanks-blockquote - Blank line inside blockquote
  • MD029 ol-prefix - Ordered list item prefix
  • MD030 list-marker-space - Spaces after list markers
  • MD031 blanks-around-fences - Fenced code blocks should be surrounded by blank lines
  • MD032 blanks-around-lists - Lists should be surrounded by blank lines
  • MD033 no-inline-html - Inline HTML
  • MD034 no-bare-urls - Bare URL used
  • MD035 hr-style - Horizontal rule style
  • MD036 no-emphasis-as-header - Emphasis used instead of a header
  • MD037 no-space-in-emphasis - Spaces inside emphasis markers
  • MD038 no-space-in-code - Spaces inside code span elements
  • MD039 no-space-in-links - Spaces inside link text
  • MD040 fenced-code-language - Fenced code blocks should have a language specified
  • MD041 first-line-h1 - First line in file should be a top level header
  • MD042 no-empty-links - No empty links
  • MD043 required-headers - Required header structure

See markdownlint's file for more details.


The default rule configuration disables MD013/line-length "Line length" because many files include lines longer than the initial limit of 80 characters:

    "MD013": false

Rules can be enabled, disabled, and customized by creating a JSON file named .markdownlint.json in the root folder of a project.

For example, a custom configuration file might look like:

    "default": true,
    "MD003": { "style": "atx_closed" },
    "MD007": { "indent": 4 },
    "no-hard-tabs": false

Rules can also be configured using Code's support for user and workspace settings.

For example, the same configuration via settings.json might look like:

    "editor.someSetting": true,
    "markdownlint.config": {
        "default": true,
        "MD003": { "style": "atx_closed" },
        "MD007": { "indent": 4 },
        "no-hard-tabs": false

Locations have the following precedence (in decreasing order):

  • .markdownlint.json file in the root of the project
  • Visual Studio Code user/workspace settings
  • Default configuration (above)

Changes saved to any of the files take effect immediately.

See markdownlint's options.config section for more information about rule configuration.


Individual warnings can be suppressed with inline comments:

<!-- markdownlint-disable MD037 -->
deliberate space * in * emphasis
<!-- markdownlint-enable MD037 -->

See markdownlint's configuration section for more details.