What Is Speech Markdown?

Speech Markdown is the text-to-speech format for content authors. It is released as open source so that all can benefit.


  • Simplified. Don’t know the difference between prosody and phoneme? No problem. Simpler than Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML).

  • Converts to SSML or Text. Just because today’s voice platforms use SSML, doesn’t mean that content authors must. Write content is Speech Markdown and let the tools and frameworks convert it to SSML or plain text.

  • Supports Multiple Platforms. Don’t worry about how each platform supports (or does not support) the SSML specs v1.0 & v1.1. Use separate formatters to convert Speech Markdown to platform-specific SSML flavors such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.


Here is a quick sample that compares Speech Markdown and SSML.

Two common SSML elements are <break> and <emphasis>:

    Step 1, take a deep breath. <break time="200ms"/>
    Step 2, exhale.
    Step 3, take a deep breath again. <break strength="weak"/>
    Step 4, exhale.

    This is <emphasis>an important</emphasis> announcement
    Are you <emphasis level="strong">listening?</emphasis>

Now formatted in Speech Markdown:

Step 1, take a deep breath. [200ms]
Step 2, exhale.
Step 3, take a deep breath again. [break:"weak"]
Step 4, exhale.

This is (an important)[emphasis] announcement
Are you ++listening?++

All elements have a standard format:

  • [break:"200ms"]
  • [break:"weak"]
  • (text)[emphasis] or (text)[emphasis:"moderate"]
  • (text)[emphasis:"strong"]

Some elements also have a short format:

  • [200ms]
  • +text+
  • ++text++

Another Sample

This example includes both sections and modifiers and standard and short formats.

Speech Markdown

The (quick)[rate:'x-fast'] brown [1s] fox [250ms] ++jumped++ over the lazy dog.


    <voice name="Brian">
    <lang xml:lang="en-GB">
        The <prosody rate="x-fast">quick</prosody> brown <break time="1s"/> fox <break time="250ms"/> <emphasis level="strong">jumped</emphasis> over the lazy dog.