How to Edit Lisp Code with Emacs

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

This page shows you how to edit lisp code with plain emacs efficiently.

Highlight Brackets: show-paren-mode

Emacs: Highlight Brackets ({[]})

Insert Brackets by Pair

Emacs: Insert Parenthesis by Pair: electric-pair-mode

You should ALWAYS insert brackets by pair.

Delete Brackets by Pair

Emacs: Delete Bracket ({[]}) by Pair

You should ALWAYS delete brackets by pair.

Move Cursor to Bracket

Emacs: Move Cursor to Bracket/Quote

It's critical to have keys that move cursor to previous opening bracket and next closing bracket.

Navigate Lisp Code as Tree

Emacs: Navigate Lisp Code as Tree

You can move cursor to brackets in such way as navigating a tree.

This is less useful than the freely moving to any bracket.

Select Lisp Expression by Unit

Alt+x mark-sexpCtrl+Alt+Space】 to select a complete parenthesized expression. Your cursor must be on the left bracket.

To select a complete sexp, type 【Ctrl+Alt+】 (backward-up-list) then 【Ctrl+Alt+Space】.

Emacs Lisp Basics Topic

  1. Emacs Lisp Basics
  2. Overview of Text-Processing in Emacs Lisp
  3. Emacs Lisp Examples, page 1
  4. How to Evaluate Emacs Lisp Code
  5. Elisp: Documentation Lookup
  6. Elisp: Search Documentation
  7. How to Edit Lisp Code with Emacs
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