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I've noticed that I can escape curly braces. That is, if I type \{, I get {. Why are curly braces special characters; what Markdown syntax uses them? I couldn't find anything about it in the editing-help page.

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Because they are half of a free-hand circle. – GManNickG Nov 9 '09 at 7:20
obligatory +1 for mentioning free hand circles – Amarghosh Nov 9 '09 at 7:21
All good standards have things that are reserved for future use – beggs Nov 9 '09 at 7:38
up vote 5 down vote accepted

In at lease one extension to Markdown, something called PHP Markdown Extra, braces are used to add an id to a header:

So in that variant of Markdown, this code:

## Header 2 ##      {#header2}

Will produce markup like:

<h2 id="header2">Header 2</h2>

I don't see any reference to extensibility on the Markdown Documentation Page, but perhaps the curly braces and other characters are reserved for future use.

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I guess "reserved for future use" is the best answer I'm going to get. Though the existing symbols are plenty for extensibility; if they need a new bracket, they could use !( for example. – Anton Geraschenko Nov 10 '09 at 19:25

The brace ({}) isn't special. But it don't do anything.

Not in this range: {0-9}.
Nor with this range: {aardvark-zebra}

The backslash (\) just looks like it's helping out escape punctuation marks just in case things are done with them.

Special ed maybe.

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It's just part of Markdown - Markdown provides backslash escapes for the following characters:

\   backslash
`   backtick
*   asterisk
_   underscore
{}  curly braces
[]  square brackets
()  parentheses
#   hash mark
+   plus sign
-   minus sign (hyphen)
.   dot
!   exclamation mark

There's no mention of what special meaning { has anywhere on the syntax page for Markdown though.

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