Emacs: How to Define Templates in YASnippet

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

This page shows you how to define your own templates for emacs's YASnippet template system. If you don't know what's yasnippet, see a intro here: Emacs Templates with YASnippet.

Snippets are organized by Folders

Directory Structure by Emacs's Modes

In your yasnippet folder, you'll find a path like this:


All template definitions are inside this folder.

In the snippets dir, there are subdirs:


Each dir contains templates that will be active when you are in that mode.

One Template Definition Per File

Each template definition is a file. For example, suppose you have a template definition for “while” keyword for the Perl language. Then, there should be a file at this path: text-mode/perl-mode/while.

Each file may end with the suffix “.yasnippet”.

By default, the file's name is the abbrev for the template. For example, if you have a file html-mode/h1, then, typing h1 then Tab ↹, will expand according to that template file's definition.

Technically, each file's name, up to the first period, defines the abbrev. For example: you might have these files:


When user types doctype then press Tab ↹, a multiple choice menu will be shown.

File names starting with a period are not template definition but provide information purposes. For example: .readme.

Template Syntax

Each template file has this line: # -- (there MUST be a space). Everything above that line is either comment or directive (don't worry about directives for now). Below the line is the actual template definition.

Here's a example of the template html-mode/doctype.

#name : Doctype HTML 4.01 Strict
# --
<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">

When you type doctype then Tab ↹, while in html-mode, it'll expand to:

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/strict.dtd">

The line #name : is for a short title for the template. This title is used in menus. For example, look at the menu 〖YASnippet〗. When there are multiple templates for the same abbrev, yasnippet will popup a multiple-choice menu, and each template's title is also shown in the menu.

Special Characters

In the template definition, some chars have special meaning:

Sample Snippet Files

Examples of defining HTML tags with field stop points:

<img src="$1" class="$2" alt="$3">

You can also include lisp code in your template. For example, you might want to have a date stamp. Here's a example that insert user's email address and datestamp.


Loading Your Template

Once you create a template file, you have to load it. Call yas-reload-all 〖menu-bar ▸ yasnippet ▸ yas/Reload everything〗.

Expand Word Including Hyphen

Emacs YASnippet Tip: Expand Whole hyphenated-word as Input

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