How I create fancy PDF-documents in Markdown

July 14, 2021

I haven’t had the need to create any ‘fancy’ document in ages, but the other day I had to create a PDF-document with fancy formatting for a work related thing.

After some testing of various solutions and tools, I ended up with a setup using Pandoc, WeasyPrint and Markdown. I consider Markdown to be the best markup language and I use it for everything!

My example document

The source for this PDF-document looks like this:

# H1 Header

I really like using Markdown.

1. First item
2. Second item
3. Third item
4. Fourth item

> This is some quoted text.

echo "This is a code block."

And this is the CSS I used:

:root {
  --blue: #3465A4;

@font-face {
    font-family: 'NotoSans';
    src: url('NotoSans-Condensed.ttf') format('ttf')

html {
    font-family: 'NotoSans';
    line-height: 1.45em;

h1 {
    font-size: 26px;
    color: var(--blue);
    padding-bottom: 0.15em;
    border-bottom: 1px solid #CCC;

pre {
    background-color: rgba(0,0,0,0.05);
    border: 1px solid rgba(0,0,0,0.1);
    padding: 1em;
    font-size: 12px;

blockquote {
    background-color: rgba(0,0,0,0.05);
    border-left: 5px solid rgba(0,0,0,0.1);
    padding: 0.1em 0.75em;

And this is the command I used to render the document:

$ pandoc --pdf-engine weasyprint -c style.css -s -o demo.pdf 


To make this work you need to install Pandoc and WeasyPrint. In Gentoo the packages are called app-text/pandoc and dev-python/weasyprint.

With that said. I did not install Pandoc from source myself. It simply requires way too many packages for my liking (when compiled from source):

# emerge pandoc
Total: 133 packages (133 new), Size of downloads: 165,258 KiB

I instead used a binary package that’s available from their GitHub-page. The archive weights in at about 14 MB and unpacked at about 68 MB. I then just put the folder in ~/.local/bin/ and created a symbolic link to the binary file.


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