If you already use Markdown then the Org mode syntax will seem very familiar.

This is an overview of some of the basic Org mode syntax compared to Markdown. If you want to learn more check out the Org mode manual.

Headings/headlines

Headings in Markdown are known as headlines in Org mode.

Markdown:

# Heading 1

## Subheading 1.1

### Sub-subheading 1.1.1

## Subheading 1.2

# Heading 2

Some notes

The same in an Org file:

* Headline 1
** Headline 1.1
*** Headline 1.1.1
** Headline 1.2
* Headline 2
Some notes

The difference here is that instead of hashes you use stars. Org mode will also understand and react to TODO states and tags in a headline.

Lists

Markdown and Org mode lists are almost identical - except that you can’t use *’s to start Org mode list items (as they are used by headlines):

A list which works in Markdown and Org mode:

+ Item 1
+ Item 2
  + Item 2.1
  + Item 2.2
  
A numbered list which works in both:

1. Item 1
2. Item 2
3. Item 3

Bold, italics and strikethrough

There are a few differences here:

Markdown:

The word **bold** will be in bold. The word *italics* will be in italics. ~~This has been struck out~~.

Org mode:

The word *bold* will be in bold. The word /italics/ will be in italics. +This has been struck out+.

Links

In my opinion Org mode links are much nicer, and have an easier to understand syntax. In Markdown it is easy to forget whether it is square brackets first or parentheses.

Markdown:

[beorg, an iOS app which works with Org mode files](https://beorgapp.com)

Org mode:

[[https://beorgapp.com][beorg, an iOS app which works with Org mode files]]

Tables and more

This is where Org mode leaps over Markdown in terms of functionality. If you use Org mode in Emacs then tables are actually fun to work with. Emacs will automatically maintain column widths, add new cells, insert/delete rows/columns and even act as a mini spreadsheet. Markdown on the other hand relies on extensions for table support and there are a few variants.

If you are a Markdown user who is interested in how Org mode tables work take a look at the extensive documentation.