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19.6 Standard Faces

To see what faces are currently defined, and what they look like, type M-x list-faces-display. It's possible for a given face to look different in different frames; this command shows the appearance in the frame in which you type it. With a prefix argument, this prompts for a regular expression, and displays only faces with names matching that regular expression.

Here are the standard faces for specifying text appearance. You can apply them to specific text when you want the effects they produce.


This face is used for ordinary text that doesn't specify any face.


This face uses a bold variant of the default font, if it has one. It's up to you to choose a default font that has a bold variant, if you want to use one.


This face uses an italic variant of the default font, if it has one.


This face uses a bold italic variant of the default font, if it has one.


This face underlines text.


This face forces use of a particular fixed-width font.


This face forces use of a particular variable-width font. It's reasonable to customize this face to use a different variable-width font, if you like, but you should not make it a fixed-width font.


This face is used for making the text less noticeable than the surrounding ordinary text. Usually this can be achieved by using shades of gray in contrast with either black or white default foreground color.

Here's an incomplete list of faces used to highlight parts of the text temporarily for specific purposes. (Many other modes define their own faces for this purpose.)


This face is used for highlighting portions of text, in various modes. For example, mouse-sensitive text is highlighted using this face.


This face is used for highlighting the current Isearch match.


This face is used for highlighting the current Query Replace match.


This face is used for lazy highlighting of Isearch and Query Replace matches other than the current one.


This face is used for displaying a selected region (when Transient Mark mode is enabled—see below).


This face is used for displaying a secondary X selection (see section Secondary Selection).


The face for highlighting excess spaces and tabs at the end of a line when show-trailing-whitespace is non-nil; see Useless Whitespace.


The face for displaying the character “nobreak space.”


The face for highlighting the ‘\’ or ‘^’ that indicates a control character. It's also used when ‘\’ indicates a nobreak space or nobreak (soft) hyphen.

When Transient Mark mode is enabled, the text of the region is highlighted when the mark is active. This uses the face named region; you can control the style of highlighting by changing the style of this face (see section Customizing Faces). See section Transient Mark Mode, for more information about Transient Mark mode and activation and deactivation of the mark.

These faces control the appearance of parts of the Emacs frame. They exist as faces to provide a consistent way to customize the appearance of these parts of the frame.


This face is used for the mode line of the currently selected window, and for menu bars when toolkit menus are not used. By default, it's drawn with shadows for a “raised” effect on graphical displays, and drawn as the inverse of the default face on non-windowed terminals. modeline is an alias for the mode-line face, for compatibility with old Emacs versions.


Like mode-line, but used for mode lines of the windows other than the selected one (if mode-line-in-non-selected-windows is non-nil). This face inherits from mode-line, so changes in that face affect mode lines in all windows.


Like highlight, but used for portions of text on mode lines.


This face is used for buffer identification parts in the mode line.


Similar to mode-line for a window's header line, which appears at the top of a window just as the mode line appears at the bottom. Most windows do not have a header line—only some special modes, such Info mode, create one.


This face is used for the vertical divider between windows. By default this face inherits from the mode-line-inactive face on character terminals. On graphical displays the foreground color of this face is used for the vertical line between windows without scrollbars.


This face is used for the prompt strings displayed in the minibuffer. By default, Emacs automatically adds this face to the value of minibuffer-prompt-properties, which is a list of text properties used to display the prompt text. (This variable takes effect when you enter the minibuffer.)


The face for the fringes to the left and right of windows on graphic displays. (The fringes are the narrow portions of the Emacs frame between the text area and the window's right and left borders.) See section Window Fringes.


This face determines the visual appearance of the scroll bar. See section Scroll Bars.


This face determines the color of the frame border.


This face determines the color of the cursor.


This face determines the color of the mouse pointer.


This face determines the color of tool bar icons. See section Tool Bars.


This face is used for tooltips. See section Tooltips.


This face determines the colors and font of Emacs's menus. See section Menu Bars. Setting the font of LessTif/Motif menus is currently not supported; attempts to set the font are ignored in this case. Likewise, attempts to customize this face in Emacs built with GTK and in the MS-Windows/Mac ports are ignored by the respective GUI toolkits; you need to use system-wide styles and options to change the appearance of the menus.

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