Re: Mark It Down

Martin Döring, October 14th of 2021

In his article »Mark It Down«, skylake, the author of the famous Gemini browser Lagrange, thinks about, how to give answers to the ever upcoming question:

Gemtext is so _restrictive_! How on Earth am I to convey the nuance of my writing without being able to **EMPHASIZE** words?

Article »Mark it down«

Well, is it that restrictive? While in his article he later is talking about making a subset of Markdown available in Lagrange and how to make ANSI sequences available, which are normally just used in ANSI terminals, I'd suggest a rather different idea about how to enrich text or make it more expressive in your Gemtext pages.

In Gemini's Gemtext format we don't just have ASCII characters, but we have the full set of Unicode glyphs available. Let's see, if we can develop some ideas, what could be done with them.

And: This article makes use of many very uncommon Unicode characters, don't be sad if your client doesn't show a couple of them. Well, in general we should avoid this.

Using surrounded Latin Characters

The basic Latin alphabet is available in a surrounded fashion. This may look a bit strange, but may be in some cases a way to have words look different, than others.

Ⓗⓔⓛⓛⓞ Ⓦⓞⓡⓛⓓ

This may work for English, but not for languages with additional umlauts or other special characters.

See Unicode enclosed Alphanumerics

Bold and italic Characters

In the Unicode block »Mathematical Alphanumeric Symbols« there are characters which are bold, italics and both. These normally are used for mathematics, but for a plain English writing person can also be used to make single words or phrases more expressive:

There is also something like 𝒽𝒶𝓃𝒹𝓌𝓇𝒾𝓉𝓉𝓃 text (e is missing! Why?) and you can write words in 𝔉𝔯𝔞𝔨𝔱𝔲𝔯. There are also whole font types, like 𝘚𝘢𝘯𝘴 𝘚𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘧 or 𝙼𝚘𝚗𝚘𝚝𝚢𝚙𝚎 fonts, which can be used.

Although using these is theoretical possible for plain English text, it is a pain to copy these together from Unicode maps in the web. One would need some kind of programmed tool to make really use of these. Also, they may be a catastrophe for people using screenreaders. So, do we have other ways to express ourselves?

Using other Alphabets

... is an endless playground...

Writing ʠɒəɥɹəʌo

Some text can be written overhead by making use of specific glyphs, like »ɟloʍ« or such. This may be used as a joke, but may not be suitable for highlighting normal text.


This may be the simplest form to emphasize text. This method, having it's origin in the great age of typewriters, can still be applied to today's texts and can be written on every normal keyboard and in all languages.

Enclose your »Text«

Another idea could be to enclose your text to highlite it. The simplest form is already known from prose: »using quotes« of „some kind“ to let phrases stand out from the rest of the text.

Regardless of which symbols we use therefor, this would also be a technical possibility to let normal clients just print out raw text, but open a door for advanced clients to use these symbols as some kind of »tags« to change the typeface to bold, italics or such.

Ideally one should use enclosing characters in situations, which are not known to be used for other common markup, like »double angle quotation marks« are for spoken dialogues, e.g. A good take would possibly be using ›single angle quotes‹, which are not that common.

Using Quoting and monospaced Text

... may not be such a good idea!

This is part of the markup Gemtext format brings with it. Both can just be used on a seperate line and also both have a meaning. If we abuse them for other purposes, we don't recognize anymore, when they really mean what they show. Also, mainly valid for quotes, specific clients may render these in a manner we don't have foreseen.

Highlighting Text by extra Lines

One could also choose to highlight text on separate lines by »drawing« lines above and beneath the text:


These are four dashes


or shorter:





As you see, Gemtext provides a couple of possibilities to make your text look more rich and to add emphasis to specific parts of it. For shure, all these technics can also be used in Markdown and HTML, because of just being Unicode in the end.