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.

  • 7
    Because they are half of a free-hand circle.
    – GManNickG
    Nov 9, 2009 at 7:20
  • 1
    obligatory +1 for mentioning free hand circles
    – Amarghosh
    Nov 9, 2009 at 7:21
  • 4
    All good standards have things that are reserved for future use
    – beggs
    Nov 9, 2009 at 7:38
  • When one uses pandoc to add BibTeX citations to a Markdown document, it inserts some strings involving braces in a way that suggests pandoc expects Markdown to do something special with braces. No idea what that something special is, though. Jun 30, 2022 at 16:09

3 Answers 3


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.

  • 2
    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. Nov 10, 2009 at 19:25

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.


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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