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Markdown to HTML generator and multiple CSS themes for Markdown
CSS HTML JavaScript Other
branch: master


Converts Markdown files to HTML, with over a dozen builtin themes. The new v2.0 release includes a ton of enhancements!

Looking for something to generate a blog from Markdown files? Check out ghost-render.


  • v2.0 is a major rewrite, with significant usability improvements; the core has been rewritten to use object mode streams via pipe-iterators.
  • Includes 15+ ready-made CSS stylesheets for Markdown, see the bottom of the readme for screenshots.
  • Reuse the stylesheets or use the generate-md tool to convert a folder of Markdown files to HTML using one of the built-in layouts or a custom layout.
  • Completely static output is easy to host anywhere.
  • Metadata support: Each file can include additional metadata in a header section (new in 2.0!), such as the page title and author name which can then be used in the layout.
  • Layout features:
    • Built in support for code syntax highlighting via highlight.js (new in 2.0!)
    • All layouts now include a Github-style code highlighting theme by default (new v2.0!)
    • Built in table of contents generation from Markdown headings, now fully customizable by replacing the {{> toc}} partial in custom layout (new in 2.0!).
    • Automatically detects the document title from the first heading in the Markdown markup (new in 2.0!)
  • Easier to get started with a custom layout via --exports, which exports a built in layout as a starting point for your custom layout (new in 2.0).
  • Create your own layout based on an existing layout via --layout with:
    • Full Handlebars support for layouts, helpers and partials (new in 2.0!)
    • Fully customizable table of contents template via the toc partial (new in 2.0!)
    • Support for relative path generation via the {{asset 'path'}} helper
  • API support: markdown-styles now has a public API (new in 2.0!)
  • Changes in 2.0:
    • Deprecated --command, {{styles}}, --template, --asset-dir, --partials, --helpers, --runner. Most of this functionality can be easily replicated much more cleanly with the new features.
    • Improved highlighter support. Every built in layout now includes a default highlight.js CSS stylesheet and you no longer need to add extra CLI options to enable highlighting.
    • Layout partials and helpers have been renamed: {{content}} -> {{> content}}, {{toc}} -> {{> toc}}, {{assetsRelative}} -> {{asset 'path'}}
    • The default layout is now github, which looks a lot like Github readmes.


Install generate-md via npm (to get npm, just install Node.js):

sudo npm install -g markdown-styles

Create a markdown file and then convert it to html:

mkdir input/
echo "# Hello world\n YOLO" > input/
generate-md --layout github --input ./input --output ./output
google-chrome ./output/index.html

Try out different layouts by changing the --layout parameter; screenshots are at the bottom of this page.


generate-md CLI options

  • --input <path> specifies the input directory (default: ./input/).
  • --output <path> specifies the output directory (default: ./output/).
  • --layout <path> specifies the layout. It can be:
    • The name of a builtin layout, such as github or mixu-page.
    • A path to a layout folder (full path, or path relative to process.cwd).
    • A layout folder consists of:
      • ./page.html, the template to use in the layout
      • ./assets, the assets folder to copy over to the output
      • ./partials, the partials directory
      • ./helpers, the helpers directory
    • Note that --template, --asset-dir, --partials and --helpers are deprecated. This simplifies the loading logic. You need to put each of those resources in the same layout folder.
  • --export <name>: Exports a built-in layout to a directory. Use --output <path> to specify the location to write the built-in layout. For example, --export github --output ./custom-layout will copy the github builtin layout to ./custom-layout.
  • --highlight-<language> <module>: Specifies a custom highlighter module to use for a specific language. For example, --highlight-csv mds-csv will highlight any csv code blocks using the mds-csv module.

The resulting output

The output HTML is fully static and uses relative paths to the asset files, which are also copied into the output folder. This means that you could, for example, point a HTTP server at the root of ./test/ and be done with it or push the output folder to Amazon S3.

Syntax highlighting

v2.0 has syntax highlighting enabled by default. Every layout has also been updated to include a default highlight.js syntax highlighting theme, which means everything works out of the box. For more highlighter themes, check out this demo site - you can find the highlight.js CSS styles here.

To enable language-specific syntax highlighting, you need to specify the language of the code block, e.g.:

var foo = 'bar';

v2.0 also supports additional language specific syntax highlighters - check out mds-csv for an example of a syntax highlighter for a specific language.

To enable additional language-specific syntax highlighters, install the module (e.g. mds-csv), then add --highlight-{languagename} {modulename} to the command line. For example, generate-md --highlight-csv mds-csv ... to enable the CSV highlighter for csv code blocks.

Table of contents

The following built in layouts include the {{~> toc}} partial:

  • mixu-book
  • mixu-bootstrap-2col
  • mixu-gray
  • mixu-radar

These are mostly templates that have a sensible place to put this table of contents, such as a sidebar. I didn't want to default to putting a table of contents into the layouts that had no sidebar, but you can add it quite easily.

The {{~> toc}} partial generates a table of contents list. The list contains links to every header in your Markdown file. In addition, every Markdown header is automatically converted to a linkable anchor (e.g. #table_of_contents) when the page is generated. You can customize the table of contents markup by overriding the ./partials/toc.hbs partial in your custom layout.

Metadata sections

Each markdown file can have metadata associated with it. To set the metadata, start your markdown file with a metadata block that looks like this:

title: Page title
# Hello world

There must be at least three - characters that separate the header from the rest of the content (on a single line).

You can reference the metadata values in your template by name. The default layouts only make use of the {{title}} metadata value, but your custom layouts can refer to any additional fields you want.

{{title}} is used as the page title. If you do not set the value explicitly, it is automatically detected from the first heading in the markdown file.

The metadata can also be written using JSON syntax or YAML syntax. This makes it possible to add arrays and hashes in the metadata. Using handlebars.js you can go even further. For example, you can add a tags array into the metadata section:

title: Page title
tags: ["handlebars", "template"]
# Hello world

... which can then be iterated over using the standard Handlebars {{#each}} iterator:

{{#each tags}}
    <li>{{ this }}</li>

which will result in:


If you take a look at the {{~> toc}} built in partial, you can see that it is actually iterating over a metadata field called headings using the same syntax. The headings metadata is an array of objects with an id field (the HTML anchor id), a text field (the heading text) and a depth field (the depth of the heading, e.g. the number of # characters in the heading).

Writing your own layout

v2.0 makes it easier to get started with a custom layout via --export, which exports a built in layout as a starting point. Just pick a reasonable built in layout and start customizing. For example:

generate-md --export github --output ./my-layout

will export the github layout to ./my-layout. To make use of your new layout:

generate-md --layout ./my-layout --input ./some-input --output ./output

If you look under ./my-layout, you'll see that a layout folder consists of:

  • ./page.html, the template to use in the layout
  • ./assets, the assets folder to copy over to the output
  • ./partials, the partials directory
  • ./helpers, the helpers directory

See the next few sections for more details for how these features work.

Template Evaluation (page.html)

The handlebars.js template language is used to evaluate both the template and the markdown.

Here is a list of all the built in features:

  • {{~> content}}: renders the markdown content
  • {{asset 'asset-path'}}: renders a specific asset path (previously {{assetsRelative}} / {{styles}})
  • {{~> toc}}: renders the table of contents
  • {{title}}: renders the title from the metadata section

Any metadata fields you have defined in the page's metadata section can be referenced in page.html by name. For example, {{title}} is replaced with the value of the title metadata field when the template is rendered.

You can include your own helpers and partials in your custom layout as shown below.

Assets folder (./assets)

All files in the assets folder are copied from the layout folder to the output folder.

To refer to files in the assets folder, use the {{asset 'path'}} helper. For example, {{asset 'css/style.css'}} will be replaced with a relative path to the file in ./assets/css/style.css. Take a look at the built in layouts for some examples.


Partials are html files that can be included via handlebars {{> partialName}} style. Usually they are .html files. For example, if footer.html resides in the partials directory, {{> footer}} will be replaced with footer.html's content. For more advanced topics, see handlebars partials documentation. Don't use content.html, it is reserved to the html generated from the markdown. You can override the toc partial by adding ./partials/toc.html as a partial in your custom layout, e.g.

<h1>My Table of Contents</h1>
<ul class="nav nav-list">
  {{#each headings}}
    <li><a href="#{{id}}">{{text}}</a></li>


Helpers are functions that you can use throughout the template. See handlebars helpers. For example, add linkTo.js to the ./helpers directory in your custom layout:

var Handlebars = require('handlebars');
module.exports = function(){
  return new Handlebars.SafeString("<a href='" + Handlebars.Utils.escapeExpression(this.url) + "'>" + Handlebars.Utils.escapeExpression(this.body) + "</a>");

Next, in ./my-layout, run npm install handlebars (since we're requiring handlebars) in the code.

In your metadata heading:

  - url: "/hello"
    body: "Hello"
  - url: "/world"
    body: "World!"
# Hello world


links: [ { url: "/hello", body: "Hello"},
         { url: "/world", body: "World!" } ]
# Hello world

and somewhere in your template:


Note the usage of the "triple-stash", e.g. {{{ here. The technical reason for this is documented in this issue in Handlebars and will be apparently fixed in Handlebars 3.0. For now, use triple-stash to invoke any helpers that generate HTML.

... will result in:

    <a href='/hello'>Hello</a>
    <a href='/world'>World!</a>


If you want to apply additional metadata to all Markdown files in a particular folder, you can add a file named meta.json to the input folder. (Note: in v1.x, meta.json was read from process.cwd(), e.g. the folder from which you ran generate-md).

meta.json will be read, and the values in it are added to the regular metadata. The values from meta.json act like default values, e.g. the per-file metadata section values will override the values from meta.json.

The metadata is scoped by the top-level directory in ./input.

For example, a ./input/meta.json file like this:

  "foo": {
    "repoUrl": ""

would make the metadata value {{repoUrl}} available in the template, for all files that are in the directory ./input/foo. If any markdown file in ./input/foo/ defines a metadata value called repoUrl, then that value will override the value from meta.json.


It exists, and uses the same options as generate-md. Docs TODO, see bin/generate-md and test/api.test.js for now.


I'd like to thank the following people for either contributing to markdown-styles directly or making CSS stylesheets available with a permissive open source license:

Screenshots of the layouts

Note: these screenshots are generated via phantomjs, so they look worse than they do in a real browser because the font rendering is just bad and lacks webfont support. For example, WiTeX actually uses the Latin Modern Roman font from TeX but the screenshots show the fallback font.



































Contributing new styles to markdown-styles

Add new layouts to ./layouts/name. To regenerate the pages, you need to run:

git clone git://
npm install
make build

To regenerate the screenshots, you need cutycapt (or some other Webkit to image tool) and imagemagic. On Ubuntu / Debian, that's:

sudo aptitude install cutycapt imagemagick

You also need to install the web fonts locally so that cutycapt will find them, run node font-download.js to get the commands you need to run (basically a series of wget and fc-cache -fv commands).

Finally, run:

make screenshots

If you have phantomjs installed, run:

make phantomjs

which will use a phantomjs script to capture the screenshots.

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