I have a team of several people writing, translating, and editing whole books in Markdown format. The biggest issue I've run into so far is that none of the editors I've tried people on support footnotes. As one book we're just finishing has 1,216 footnotes and most of the people touching the file are confused by markdown syntax anyway, not having a preview to confirm that they got it right is a significant pain point.

Are there any GUI editors with Markdown preview panes that support footnotes vis-à-vis Pandoc's / PHP Markdown Extras' syntax? OS X or web based would be nice, but really anything would give me a place to start for at least some subset of the team. I can afford a few bucks per license if there is something out there that eases the pain.

  • 1
    As you answered here ("Footnotes (would that SE included this!)" :), Haroopad supports Markdown-Extra style footnotes.
    – Izzy
    Jan 8, 2016 at 14:00
  • @Izzy Huh. The things one finds on the internet. I have no recollection of this one either, yet search brought me there this week for a similar issue. Since writing this question I've also determined Atom can do this now. In fact there are two packages which allow it, but both are very brittle to get setup. I have other reasons for disliking Haroopad now, but might have another look if nothing else turns up.
    – Caleb
    Jan 8, 2016 at 15:21
  • 1
    Atom is quite a monster. Widely configurable, but I cannot get used to it. Haroopad has no tabs, or I would stick with it. Got a recomm. for Markpad (supports MExtra w/ footnotes), but I'm not sure if you can compile that for MacOS (using Mono then, as it's a .NET app). Clean and fast, cannot say much more currently. You could also checkout ReText, which supports MExtra; I'm using that on Linux, should do on Mac as well.
    – Izzy
    Jan 8, 2016 at 15:46
  • @Izzy AFAIK you don't have to compile something for Mono, you can just a compiled version, but Mono doesn't support MarkPad's installer, so you have to use my build or compile it yourself...
    – wb9688
    Jan 10, 2016 at 20:17

3 Answers 3


As you're fine with a Web App, you should take a look at StackEdit:

  • preview pane: Yes.
  • PHP Markdown Extras: Yes, incl. footnotes and tables
  • OS X or web based: web based


Additional features include:

  • flowcharts/UML
  • MathJax
  • fenced code blocks
  • [TOC]
  • SmartyPants
  • Sync with Dropbox / Google Drive
  • directly publish to a website understanding Markdown

Hint: You should (permanently) allow cookies for the domain, or it will tell you your browser is not supported :)

  • 1
    That is indeed interesting, but there are a few issues. Most problematic is that it only handles blog post length content sanely. Throw a book in there at it grinds to a maddening halt where every keystroke takes 5+ seconds to echo. Then there is the all or nothing approach to GFM/MME format which breaks line wrapping if you enable footnotes and the fact that it only partially supports footnotes (no inline syntax). Looking at the source I could probably fix the syntax issues myself and host a private instance, but the speed just isn't going to cut it.
    – Caleb
    Jan 8, 2016 at 16:46
  • 1
    This did point me toward Classeur, which is more promising than StackEdit. Performance is still an issue, but the keyboard lag is in the almost-bearable range. Inline footnote syntax is supported and you can fine tune which markup syntax features to go by. The UI is more compelling for folks struggling with Markdown too. I'm going to have to give it a real shakedown.
    – Caleb
    Jan 8, 2016 at 16:52
  • Goog points, @Caleb – I didn't test it with War and Peace, sorry :) Remember to answer your own question with results from Classeur if it matches your questions requirements (even if you turn away from it again). As for your huge book, you might consider splitting it into multiple volumes if there's no other way to work at it reasonably ;)
    – Izzy
    Jan 8, 2016 at 17:16
  • My projects aren't even close to War and Peace length but it doesn't take much of a book to start tripping up live previews, but at least the native app ones usually let you keep typing and just the preview lags. Web based ones are a disaster. Splitting the file into segments isn't really an option either. It would be for writing or translation, but for editing you really want to be able to search over the whole file and see how terms have been used elsewhere. Separate files makes that too cumbersome.
    – Caleb
    Jan 8, 2016 at 17:38
  • Afraid then you can forget about web-apps for that, and have to stick with native ones. But let's see what alternatives show up.
    – Izzy
    Jan 8, 2016 at 19:00

Great question – because it is something I constantly ask myself! I write academic books and journal articles and am in need of something like this.

The challenge you have is you want something that previews the footnotes, which means it should be able to manage the pagination. As you say, Pandoc or something like that, needs to therefore render it.

The solution I have used is Ulysses App for OS X:

enter image description here

First, while entering the footnote, it uses its own mechanism so it is not easy to mess up the footnote format. But it saves the footnote as the standard MMD or MarkdownExtra format.

Second, you can preview the output and it handles the pagination with footnotes. In fact, what it seems to do is generate a PDF for you which you can export; you can also export a DOCX if you like.

enter image description here

Needless to say, I think it fits your bill.

  • Thanks for the suggestion and I'll look into it more, but I don't think this is as obvious a match as your last comment suggests. This isn't a "preview" and I don't want the editor trying to handle pagination and generating a PDF. I have a continuous integration system for that and the last thing I need is software that encourages people to skip that workflow by giving them a different export mechanism that will not understand the build system. Also the "unified library" doesn't fit well with editing MD files in git repos. And the price is more than a few bucks! But the editor UI is snazzy!
    – Caleb
    Jan 9, 2016 at 10:19
  • It is not only a managed library (it is on iCloud Drive). I mount folders on my computer in it and work within them. It leaves everything in raw text files that I can work with on the bus on my iPhone (via Dropbox) before getting to my office and switching over to my computer. So you can have a whole folder of .md files, and that can be read and written with Ulysses. The only thing it does that is out of the ordinary is it saves a .plist file that manages custom things (e.g., the order of files in your UI). Having said that, the PDF is just the preview, so you can still use pandoc if you like.
    – caorongjin
    Jan 9, 2016 at 10:24

Just discovered that my favorite OS X/macOS markdown editor, MacDown, supports footnotes as well ("Enabled by default in Preferences > Markdown"). The footnote syntax is very straightforward.

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