Skip to main content

25 Commands for Human Languages

This chapter describes Emacs commands that act on text, by which we mean sequences of characters in a human language (as opposed to, say, a computer programming language). These commands act in ways that take into account the syntactic and stylistic conventions of human languages: conventions involving words, sentences, paragraphs, and capital letters. There are also commands for filling, which means rearranging the lines of a paragraph to be approximately equal in length. These commands, while intended primarily for editing text, are also often useful for editing programs.

Emacs has several major modes for editing human-language text. If the file contains ordinary text, use Text mode, which customizes Emacs in small ways for the syntactic conventions of text. Outline mode provides special commands for operating on text with an outline structure. See Outline Mode.

Org mode extends Outline mode and turns Emacs into a full-fledged organizer: you can manage TODO lists, store notes and publish them in many formats. See the Org Info manual, which is distributed with Emacs.

Emacs has other major modes for text which contains embedded commands, such as TeX and LaTeX (see TeX Mode); HTML and SGML (see HTML Mode); XML (see the nXML mode Info manual, which is distributed with Emacs); and Groff and Nroff (see Nroff Mode).

If you need to edit ASCII art pictures made out of text characters, use Picture mode, a special major mode for editing such pictures. See Picture Mode.

Words  Moving over and killing words.
Sentences  Moving over and killing sentences.
Paragraphs  Moving over paragraphs.
Pages  Moving over pages.
Quotation Marks  Inserting quotation marks.
Filling  Filling or justifying text.
Case  Changing the case of text.
Text Mode  The major modes for editing text files.
Outline Mode  Editing outlines.
Org Mode  The Emacs organizer.
TeX Mode  Editing TeX and LaTeX files.
HTML Mode  Editing HTML and SGML files.
Nroff Mode  Editing input to the nroff formatter.
Enriched Text  Editing text enriched with fonts, colors, etc.
Text Based Tables  Commands for editing text-based tables.
Two-Column  Splitting text columns into separate windows.