ClassicStructuredText is the original StructuredText markup. It was developed by Jim Fulton of Zope Corporation and first released in 1996. It is now part of the Z Object Publishing Environment (Zope).
The following text describes ClassicStructuredText and how it tries to make use of indentation and simple symbology to guess the structure of a document. For the next generation of structured text, see [http://dev.zope.org/Members/jim/StructuredTextWiki/StructuredTextNG here].
A structured string consists of a sequence of paragraphs separated by one or more blank lines. Each paragraph has a level which is defined as the minimum indentation of the paragraph. A paragraph is a sub-paragraph of another paragraph if the other paragraph is the last preceding paragraph that has a lower level.
Special symbology is used to indicate special constructs:
- A single-line paragraph whose immediately succeeding paragraphs are lower level is treated as a header.
- A paragraph that begins with a '-', '*', or 'o' is treated as an unordered list (bullet) element.
- A paragraph that begins with a sequence of digits followed by a white-space character is treated as an ordered list element.
- A paragraph that begins with a sequence of sequences, where each sequence is a sequence of digits or a sequence of letters followed by a period, is treated as an ordered list element.
- A paragraph with a first line that contains some text, followed by some white-space and '--' is treated as a descriptive list element. The leading text is treated as the element title.
- Sub-paragraphs of a paragraph that ends in the word 'example' or the word 'examples', or '::' is treated as example code and is output as is.
- Text enclosed single quotes (with white-space to the left of the first quote and whitespace or puctuation to the right of the second quote) is treated as example code.
- Text surrounded by '*' characters (with white-space to the left of the first '*' and whitespace or puctuation to the right of the second '*') is emphasized.
- Text surrounded by '**' characters (with white-space to the left of the first '**' and whitespace or puctuation to the right of the second '**') is made strong.
- Text surrounded by '_' underscore characters (with whitespace to the left and whitespace or punctuation to the right) is made underlined.
- Text encloded by double quotes followed by a colon, a URL, and concluded by punctuation plus white space, *or* just white space, is treated as a hyper link. For example:
"Zope":http://www.zope.org/ is ...
Is interpreted as '<a href="http://www.zope.org/">Zope</a> is ....'
Note: This works for relative as well as absolute URLs.
- Text enclosed by double quotes followed by a comma, one or more spaces, an absolute URL and concluded by punctuation plus white space, or just white space, is treated as a hyper link. For example:
"mail me", mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is interpreted as '<a href="mailto:email@example.com">mail me</a>.'
- Text enclosed in brackets which consists only of letters, digits, underscores and dashes is treated as hyper links within the document. For example:
- As demonstrated by Smith  this technique is quite effective.
Is interpreted as '... by Smith <a href="#12"></a> this ...'. Together with the next rule this allows easy coding of references or end notes.
- Text enclosed in brackets which is preceded by the start of a line, two periods and a space is treated as a named link. For example:
- .  "Effective Techniques" Smith, Joe ...
Is interpreted as '<a name="12"></a> "Effective Techniques" ...'. Together with the previous rule this allows easy coding of references or end notes.
A paragraph that has blocks of text enclosed in '||' is treated as a table. The text blocks correspond to table cells and table rows are denoted by newlines. By default the cells are center aligned. A cell can span more than one column by preceding a block of text with an equivalent number of cell separators '||'. Newlines and '|' cannot be a part of the cell text. For example:
|||| **Ingredients** || || *Name* || *Amount* || ||Spam||10|| ||Eggs||3||