mdx_smartypants / README.rst

Markdown is great, but if you want pretty "curled" quotes, real em- and en-dashes, and the other typographic prettification that our modern Unicode- and Web-savvy world affords, it needs to be married with smartypants (or an equivalent module) to turn ugly, programmer-ish punctuation into pretty typographic punctuation. This module does that.


import markdown

text = """
Markdown makes HTML from simple text files. But--it lacks typographic
"prettification." That... That'd be sweet. Definitely 7---8 on a '10-point
scale'. Now it has it.


print markdown.markdown(text, extensions=['smartypants'])

This produces nice HTML output, including typographically "pretty" quotes and other punctuation. It also renders HTML entites in their named rather than numeric form, which is easier on the eyes and more readily comprehended:

<p>Markdown makes HTML from simple text files. But&mdash;it lacks
typographic &ldquo;prettification.&rdquo; That&hellip; That&rsquo;d be
sweet. Definitely 7&ndash;8 on a &lsquo;10-point scale&rsquo;. Now it has

Note that you don't really need to do an import mdx_smartypants. You're welcome to if you like, and it may help to advertise that the code depends on mdx_smartypants being available. But markdown will look for mdx_smartypants simply by virtue of the extensions=['smartypants'] declaration.

mdx_smartypants will not massage indented code blocks, so your program snippets are safe.


  • The smartypants module (as of version wrongly munges punctuation within style sections found in the document body. mdx_smartypants monkey-patches a fix for this.
  • As of verison 1.2, mdx_smartpants no longer uses the stock smartypants module from PyPI. It incorporates a copy of the module, called spants, in order to tweak the code for Python 3 compatibility. This is a partial step towards a rewrite of smartypants itself to support Python 3 and be more in-line with modern Python idioms.
  • Now successfully packaged for, and tests against, against Python 2.6, 2.7, 3.2, and 3.3.
  • Commenced automated multi-version testing with pytest and tox.


pip install mdx_smartypants

To easy_install under a specific Python version (3.3 in this example):

python3.3 -m easy_install mdx_smartypants

(You may need to prefix these with "sudo " to authorize installation.)