The init file contains one or more Lisp expressions. Each of these
consists of a function name followed by arguments, all surrounded by
parentheses. For example,
(setq fill-column 60) calls the
setq to set the variable fill-column
(see Filling) to 60.
You can set any Lisp variable with
setq, but with certain
setq won’t do what you probably want in the
.emacs file. Some variables automatically become buffer-local
when set with
setq; what you want in .emacs is to set
the default value, using
setq-default. Some customizable minor
mode variables do special things to enable the mode when you set them
with Customize, but ordinary
setq won’t do that; to enable the
mode in your .emacs file, call the minor mode command. The
following section has examples of both of these methods.
The second argument to
setq is an expression for the new
value of the variable. This can be a constant, a variable, or a
function call expression. In .emacs, constants are used most
of the time. They can be:
Numbers are written in decimal, with an optional initial minus sign.
Lisp string syntax is the same as C string syntax with a few extra features. Use a double-quote character to begin and end a string constant.
In a string, you can include newlines and special characters literally. But often it is cleaner to use backslash sequences for them: ‘\n’ for newline, ‘\b’ for backspace, ‘\r’ for carriage return, ‘\t’ for tab, ‘\f’ for formfeed (control-L), ‘\e’ for escape, ‘\\’ for a backslash, ‘\'’ for a double-quote, or ‘\ooo’ for the character whose octal code is ooo. Backslash and double-quote are the only characters for which backslash sequences are mandatory.
‘\C-’ can be used as a prefix for a control character, as in ‘\C-s’ for ASCII control-S, and ‘\M-’ can be used as a prefix for a Meta character, as in ‘\M-a’ for META-A or ‘\M-\C-a’ for Ctrl-META-A.
See Init Non-ASCII, for information about including non-ASCII in your init file.
Lisp character constant syntax consists of a ‘?’ followed by
either a character or an escape sequence starting with ‘\’.
?\). Note that
strings and characters are not interchangeable in Lisp; some contexts
require one and some contexts require the other.
See Init Non-ASCII, for information about binding commands to keys which send non-ASCII characters.
t stands for “true”.
nil stands for “false”.
Write a single-quote (
') followed by the Lisp object you want.