Benefits of plain text

  • focus on the words
  • future proof
  • not locked into an app – you can access the same file from many apps depending on the strength of each

Derek Sivers, Benefits of a daily diary and topic journals, Jan. 28, 2019:

If digital, use only plain text. It’s a standard format not owned by any company. It will be readable in 50 years on devices we haven’t even imagined yet. Don’t use formats that can only be read by one program, because that program won’t be around in 50 years. Don’t use the cloud, unless you’re also going to download it weekly and back it up in plain text outside that cloud. (Companies shut down. Clouds disappear. Think long- term.)

W. Caleb McDaniel, Why (and How) I Wrote My Academic Book in Plain Text,, Sept. 28, 2012.

Dennis Tenen & Grant Wythoff, Sustainable Authorship in Plain Text using Pandoc and Markdown, The Programming Historian, March 19, 2014.

Alissa, I’m a document hipster. I only write in sustainable plaintext, Cataloguing the Universe, Oct. 1, 2016.

Jim Neumann, Make Plain Text Pretty with Markdown, Devonian Times, Dec. 6, 2016.

Gaurav Singh, Plain text note taking system using markdown for technical notes, Dev, Dec. 8, 2019 (discussing the advantages of plain text note taking).

Federico Viticci, Organize Everything With Plain Text Notes, MacStories, Sept. 5, 2012 (“I can stay assured that, twenty years from now, an archive of my notes will still be there, as plain text . . .).

Gabe Weatherhead, How I organize everything with plain-text, Working Mac, Aug. 19, 2012 (“My system is largely based on many short notes, each one simple and specific, rather than a bunch of longer ones. But those short notes can be aggregated and searched, forming a complex network of related information.”).

Plaintext Productivity

The Plain Text Project – collects articles, links, and tools.

Different ways to use plain text files, Text and Glory.

Sijmen J. Mulder, Text-only* websites.

Mark Koester, The Plain Text Life: Note Taking, Writing and Life Organization Using Plain Text Files,, Feb. 14, 2019.

Mark Koester, Tracking Your Writings and Note-Taking.

Researchers hide information in plain text, ScienceDaily, May 10, 2018:

Computer scientists have invented FontCode, a way to embed hidden information in ordinary text by imperceptibly changing the shapes of fonts in text. The hidden information persists even when documents or images with perturbed texts are printed or converted to another file type. Method could prevent document tampering, protect copyrights, as well as embed QR codes and other metadata without altering the look or layout of a document.