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I often find myself editing files for my personal use that are plaintext. Either those are notes, annotations in project directories or sometimes the output of programs that I annotate.

However, sometimes I need to make a "nicer" document out of these plain text files in either MS Word or Latex. Now my question is: is there a simple tool that allows me to convert my plain text files into let's say directly a pdf, tex or doc for further editing that takes Wiki-Syntax into account?

I.e. I'm looking for a rapid prototyping tool for documents where I can annotate them in plain text with a syntax that is as simple as possible but then creates more complicated documents out of them for further editing.

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Take a look at Wikipedia's list of lightweight markup languages, pay attention to toolchain and file format support, and try out a few. The StackExchange sites use a subset of Markdown, so if you like it start with that. I can also recommend rST (a bit heavier) and LaTeX (much heavier). In the meantime try to come up with a more specific question that isn't so vague or likely to get closed. –  jw013 Apr 12 '12 at 10:06
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

pandoc can convert from Markdown or reStructuredText to LaTeX or MS Word format.

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Markdown is the most popular markup language as far as I can tell. It is widely supported by various websites and webapps. On the other hand, if you are looking specifically for a language that has nice little CLI converter tool available, then text2tags might be a better shot. At least that was the case when I did my research some time ago.

Anyways, definitely have a look at the wikipedia article jw013 has posted.

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If you are Emacs user there is Muse Mode, that provides markup languagte (wiki style).

Using Muse you can publish your file to HTML, PDF, DocBook, LaTeX, and more.

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