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12.5 Commands to Mark Textual Objects

Here are the commands for placing point and the mark around a textual object such as a word, list, paragraph or page.


Set mark after end of next word (mark-word). This command and the following one do not move point.


Set mark after end of following balanced expression (mark-sexp).


Put region around current paragraph (mark-paragraph).


Put region around current defun (mark-defun).

C-x h

Put region around the entire buffer (mark-whole-buffer).

C-x C-p

Put region around current page (mark-page).

M-@ (mark-word) puts the mark at the end of the next word, while C-M-@ (mark-sexp) puts it at the end of the next balanced expression (see section Expressions with Balanced Parentheses). These commands handle arguments just like M-f and C-M-f. Repeating these commands extends the region. For example, you can type either C-u 2 M-@ or M-@ M-@ to mark the next two words. These commands also extend the region in Transient Mark mode, regardless of the last command.

Other commands set both point and mark, to delimit an object in the buffer. For example, M-h (mark-paragraph) moves point to the beginning of the paragraph that surrounds or follows point, and puts the mark at the end of that paragraph (see section Paragraphs). It prepares the region so you can indent, case-convert, or kill a whole paragraph. With a prefix argument, if the argument's value is positive, M-h marks that many paragraphs starting with the one surrounding point. If the prefix argument is -n, M-h also marks n paragraphs, running back form the one surrounding point. In that last case, point moves forward to the end of that paragraph, and the mark goes at the start of the region. Repeating the M-h command extends the region to subsequent paragraphs.

C-M-h (mark-defun) similarly puts point before, and the mark after, the current (or following) major top-level definition, or defun (see section Moving by Defuns). Repeating C-M-h extends the region to subsequent defuns.

C-x C-p (mark-page) puts point before the current page, and mark at the end (see section Pages). The mark goes after the terminating page delimiter (to include it in the region), while point goes after the preceding page delimiter (to exclude it). A numeric argument specifies a later page (if positive) or an earlier page (if negative) instead of the current page.

Finally, C-x h (mark-whole-buffer) sets up the entire buffer as the region, by putting point at the beginning and the mark at the end. (In some programs this is called “select all.”)

In Transient Mark mode, all of these commands activate the mark.

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