Write like a wizard

Write like a wizard

Use the magic of modern technology for your writing: tech stacks and workflows


Eenable you to use modern
tools and paradigms to make
your writing process more effective.

You will learn how to use
Markdown, Pandoc, Zotero
and VS Code like a wizard.

Hang tight!

Learning is hard.

Relearning is even harder.


  1. ​Patterns and anti-patterns
  2. Prepare your project: VS Code
  3. Reference management: Zotero + Pandoc
  4. First steps: Terminal + Pandoc
  5. Your turn: Challenge

The goal





Alleged solution: Microsoft Word 

Yet: It is a time wasting huge bloated disgusting pice of shit that you simply should not pay any attention whatsoever.


Mess of implicitness: “Explicit is better than implicit.” (The PSF 2020)

Feature creep

Scope creep

Wrong paradigms

WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get

Vendor lock-in

Proprietary garbage


WYSIWYAF: What You See Is What You Asked For





Complexity: “Simple is better than complex.”  (The PSF 2020)

Noisiness: “Beautiful is better than ugly” and “Readability counts.” (The PSF 2020)

Complexity and noise lead to errors.

Sweet spot: Markdown


Human readable

Computer readable


In medias res: Markdown

Open your VS Code

Prepare your project: VS Code

1. Prepare project folder
2. Adjust your defaults `/magic_book/defaults/defaults.yaml`
3. Configure with `settings.json` file in `magic_book`
4. Install extensions:

Pandoc Citer

Spell Right

LaTeX language support


Reference management: Zotero + Pandoc

1. Create library folder
2. Configure Zotfile and Better BibTeX.
3. Export collection bib file into `/magic_book/bib/`.
4. Download and save CSL form https://www.zotero.org/styles to `/magic_book/csl/`
5. Tell pandoc about bib and CSL file.

6. Workflow
a. Go to: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-19385-6
b. Use the Zotero Picker.

First steps: Terminal + Pandoc

1. Navigate in your terminal
2. Write and compile your first Markdown + Pandoc document:
`pandoc hello.md -o hello.pdf`
3. Set your title page in:

Next level: Defaults + Markdown + Pandoc

1. Use the `defaults.yalm` file:
`pandoc --defaults='/home/<USER>/lab/magic_book/defaults/defaults.yaml'`
2. Citations
3. Tables
4. Figures

Your turn: Challenge

Magic cake recipe

Pandoc User’s Guide: https://pandoc.org/MANUAL.html