Article thumbnail


Using PrismJS for syntax highlighting with markdown-to-jsx in Next.js

Profile picture of author
Rowin van Amsterdam

In a previous post, we explored how to achieve syntax highlighting in React applications using the markdown-to-jsx and react-syntax-highlighter packages. While that approach is effective, it's not always necessary to bring in another third-party library for syntax highlighting.

In this post, we'll delve into using PrismJS directly to add syntax highlighting to your Markdown content when rendering it with markdown-to-jsx in a server-side rendered Next.js application.

Step 1: Installation

First, make sure you have installed PrismJS and markdown-to-jsx in your Next.js project:

npm install prismjs markdown-to-jsx

Step 2: Creating a SyntaxHighlight Component

We'll create a custom component called SyntaxHighlight to handle syntax highlighting using PrismJS. This component will utilize the useEffect hook to apply highlighting to code blocks on the client side.

// SyntaxHighlight.ts
'use client';

import Prism from 'prismjs';
import { useEffect } from 'react';

import 'prismjs/components/prism-javascript.min';
import 'prismjs/components/prism-typescript.min';

export const SyntaxHighlight = () => {
    useEffect(() => {
    }, []);

    return null;

Note that I import the PrismJS components for the languages I need. To customize the appearance and behavior of PrismJS, you can refer to the official documentation on PrismJS themes and configuration.

Step 3: Creating a markdown component

Now, let's integrate the SyntaxHighlight component into your Markdown rendering component. The markdown-to-jsx package allows you to provide a custom component for rendering Markdown elements. In the markDownToJsxOptions object, we can define a custom component for the pre element.

// Markdown.tsx
type MarkdownProps = {
  value: string;

export const Markdown = (props: MarkdownProps) => {
  const { value } = props;

  const markDownToJsxOptions = {
    overrides: {
      pre: RichContentPreBlock, {/* Define a custom component for your code blocks */}

  return (
      <SyntaxHighlight /> {/* Include the SyntaxHighlight component */}
      <MarkdownToJsx options={markDownToJsxOptions}>

Step 4: Customizing Code Blocks

Now that we have the SyntaxHighlight component in place, we can customize the code blocks in our Markdown content. We'll use the RichContentPreBlock component to render the pre element.

This component will render the RichContentCodeBlock component if the pre element contains a code element. If not, it will render the pre element as-is.

// RichContentPreBlock.tsx
import { RichContentCodeBlock } from './RichContentCodeBlock';

type RichContentPreBlockProps = {
    children: JSX.Element | JSX.Element[];

export const RichContentPreBlock = ({ children, }: RichContentPreBlockProps) => {
    if ('type' in children && children['type'] === 'code') {
        return RichContentCodeBlock({ children: children['props']['children'], className: children['props']['className'] });
    return <pre {}>{children}</pre>;

Finally, the RichContentCodeBlock component will render the pre and code element with the className attribute and the children as its content.

In order to keep the server-side equivalent to the client-side rendering, we need to add the tabIndex attribute and replace the lang- prefix with language-. By default markdown-to-jsx is using the lang- prefix to support Highlight.js (which is another way to highlight syntax). Without replacing the prefix, it will end up with a hydration warning.

// RichContentCodeBlock.tsx
type RichContentCodeBlockProps = {
    children: string;
    className: string;

export const RichContentCodeBlock = (props: RichContentCodeBlockProps) => {
    const { children, className } = props;
    const language = className?.replace('lang-', 'language-');

    return (
        <pre className={language} tabIndex={0}>
            <code className={language}>{children}</code>

Step 5: Usage

Now, you can use the Markdown component to render Markdown content with syntax highlighting in your Next.js application. For example:

// Your Next.js page
import React from 'react';
import { Markdown } from '../components/Markdown';

const markdownContent = `
function greet() {
  console.log("Hello, world!");

const YourPage = () => {
  return (
      <Markdown value={markdownContent} />

export default YourPage;

Bonus Step: Using a custom theme

While the highlighting part works, it may not look very nice. This is where (custom) themes come in. You can find a list of themes in the PrismJS themes repository. These themes are CSS files that you can import into your application to style the code blocks accordingly.


By directly integrating PrismJS into your Next.js application with markdown-to-jsx, you can achieve efficient syntax highlighting. By using the RichContentPreBlock and RichContentCodeBlock components, you can customize the code blocks in your Markdown content and make sure the server-side rendering is equivalent to the client-side rendering. This approach provides greater flexibility and control over the highlighting process and allows you to create a seamless reading experience for your users.