Pandoc aspires to be "a universal document converter"—a file converter for markup languages and word-processor formats. It is often used to convert markdown documents to a variety of output formats.

Pandoc is a command-line tool that is a useful way to introduce students to the idea of composing text documents in a markup language and then converting it to a more complex output document later on. It is free/libre/open software, first developed by UC Berkeley philosophy professor John MacFarlane.

Use cases

Teach Markdown

Markdown is a widely used markup language across the Internet, and Pandoc implements a highly rigorous version of it called CommonMark. Using it can teach some basic programming concepts (such as source, compilation, and syntax) to students with no programming experience. Students can practice composing documents in Markdown and exporting to a wide variety of formats, ranging from word-processor documents to presentations.

Pandoc can do Markdown-to-HTML conversion, but it can convert to and from dozens of other formats too, including .docx and .odt word-processor files, slideshows, basic (skeletal) TEI and JATS, EPUB, and can output to some nice print-ready outputs too, by way of LaTeX and even InDesign.

How to use it

Replacement for

  • Word processors, local or cloud, especially when composition doesn't require