This document is for people who are unfamiliar with command line tools. Command-line experts can go straight to the User’s Guide or the pandoc man page.
First, install pandoc, following the instructions for your platform.
Pandoc is a command-line tool. There is no graphic user interface. So, to use it, you’ll need to open a terminal window:
On OS X, the Terminal application can be found in
/Applications/Utilities. Open a Finder window and go to
Utilities. Then double
Terminal. (Or, click the spotlight icon in the
upper right hand corner of your screen and type
you should see
On Windows, you can use either the classic command prompt or the
more modern PowerShell terminal. If you use Windows in desktop mode, run
powershell command from the Start
menu. If you use the Windows 8 start screen instead, simply type
powershell, and then run either the
“Command Prompt” or “Windows Powershell” application. If you are using
chcp 65001 before using pandoc, to
set the encoding to UTF-8.
On Linux, there are many possible configurations, depending on what desktop environment you’re using:
Terminal. Or, use the keyboard shortcut
Accessories, and select
Terminal, or use
Terminal, or use
Terminal Program (Konsole).
You should now see a rectangle with a “prompt” (possibly just a
%, but probably including more information,
such as your username and directory), and a blinking cursor.
Let’s verify that pandoc is installed. Type
and hit enter. You should see a message telling you which version of pandoc is installed, and giving you some additional information.
First, let’s see where we are. Type
on Linux or OSX, or
on Windows, and hit enter. Your terminal should print your current
working directory. (Guess what
pwd stands for?) This should
be your home directory.
Let’s navigate now to our
Documents directory: type
and hit enter. Now type
echo %cd% on Windows) again. You should be in the
Documents subdirectory of your home directory. To go back
to your home directory, you could type
.. means “one level up.”
Go back to your
Documents directory if you’re not there
already. Let’s try creating a subdirectory called
Now change to the
If the prompt doesn’t tell you what directory you’re in, you can confirm that you’re there by doing
echo %cd%) again.
OK, that’s all you need to know for now about using the terminal. But here’s a secret that will save you a lot of typing. You can always type the up-arrow key to go back through your history of commands. So if you want to use a command you typed earlier, you don’t need to type it again: just use up-arrow until it comes up. Try this. (You can use down-arrow as well, to go the other direction.) Once you have the command, you can also use the left and right arrows and the backspace/delete key to edit it.
Most terminals also support tab completion of directories and
filenames. To try this, let’s first go back up to our
and hit the tab key instead of enter. Your terminal should fill in
the rest (
test), and then you can hit enter.
echo %cd% on Windows) to see what
the current working directory is.
cd foo to change to the
of your working directory.
cd .. to move up to the parent of the working
mkdir foo to create a subdirectory called
foo in the working directory.
and hit enter. You should see the cursor just sitting there, waiting for you to type something. Type this:
When you’re finished (the cursor should be at the beginning of the
Ctrl-D on OS X or Linux, or
Enter on Windows. You should now see your text
converted to HTML!
What just happened? When pandoc is invoked without specifying any input files, it operates as a “filter,” taking input from the terminal and sending its output back to the terminal. You can use this feature to play around with pandoc.
By default, input is interpreted as pandoc markdown, and output is HTML. But we can change that. Let’s try converting from HTML to markdown:
pandoc -f html -t markdown
Ctrl-Z followed by
Enter on Windows). You should see:
Now try converting something from markdown to LaTeX. What command do you think you should use?
You’ll probably want to use pandoc to convert a file, not to read
text from the terminal. That’s easy, but first we need to create a text
file in our
Important: To create a text file, you’ll need to use
a text editor, not a word processor like Microsoft Word. On
Windows, you can use Notepad (in
Accessories). On OS X, you
Applications). On Linux,
different platforms come with different text editors: Gnome has
GEdit, and KDE has
Start up your text editor. Type the following:
This is a test of *pandoc*.
- list one
- list two
Now save your file as
test1.md in the directory
Note: If you use plain text a lot, you’ll want a better editor than
TextEdit. You might want to look at
Visual Studio Code or Sublime Text or (if you’re
willing to put in some time learning an unfamiliar interface) Vim or Emacs.
Go back to your terminal. We should still be in the
Documents/pandoc-test directory. Verify that with
dir if you’re on Windows). This will list the files
in the current directory. You should see the file you created,
To convert it to HTML, use this command:
pandoc test1.md -f markdown -t html -s -o test1.html
test1.md tells pandoc which file to
-s option says to create a “standalone” file,
with a header and footer, not just a fragment. And the
-o test1.html says to put the output in the file
test1.html. Note that we could have omitted
-f markdown and
-t html, since the default is
to convert from markdown to HTML, but it doesn’t hurt to include
Check that the file was created by typing
ls again. You
test1.html. Now open this in a browser. On OS X,
you can type
On Windows, type
You should see a browser window with your document.
To create a LaTeX document, you just need to change the command slightly:
pandoc test1.md -f markdown -t latex -s -o test1.tex
test1.tex in your text editor.
Pandoc can often figure out the input and output formats from the filename extensions. So, you could have just used:
pandoc test1.md -s -o test1.tex
Pandoc knows you’re trying to create a LaTeX document, because of the
Now try creating a Word document (with extension
If you want to create a PDF, you’ll need to have LaTeX installed. (See MacTeX on OS X, MiKTeX on Windows, or install the texlive package on Linux.) Then do
pandoc test1.md -s -o test1.pdf
You now know the basics. Pandoc has a lot of options. At this point you can start to learn more about them by reading the User’s Guide.
Here’s an example. The
--mathml option causes pandoc to
convert TeX math into MathML. Type
then enter this text, followed by
Ctrl-Z followed by
Enter on Windows):
$x = y^2$
Now try the same thing without
--mathml. See the
difference in output?
If you forget an option, or forget which formats are supported, you can always do
to get a list of all the supported options.
On OS X or Linux systems, you can also do
to get the pandoc manual page. All of this information is also in the User’s Guide.
If you get stuck, you can always ask questions on the discussion forum. But be sure to check the FAQs first, and search through the forum to see if your question has been answered before.