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23.6.3 Customizing Search-Based Fontification

You can use font-lock-add-keywords to add additional search-based fontification rules to a major mode, and font-lock-remove-keywords to remove rules.

— Function: font-lock-add-keywords mode keywords &optional how

This function adds highlighting keywords, for the current buffer or for major mode mode. The argument keywords should be a list with the same format as the variable font-lock-keywords.

If mode is a symbol which is a major mode command name, such as c-mode, the effect is that enabling Font Lock mode in mode will add keywords to font-lock-keywords. Calling with a non-nil value of mode is correct only in your ~/.emacs file.

If mode is nil, this function adds keywords to font-lock-keywords in the current buffer. This way of calling font-lock-add-keywords is usually used in mode hook functions.

By default, keywords are added at the beginning of font-lock-keywords. If the optional argument how is set, they are used to replace the value of font-lock-keywords. If how is any other non-nil value, they are added at the end of font-lock-keywords.

Some modes provide specialized support you can use in additional highlighting patterns. See the variables c-font-lock-extra-types, c++-font-lock-extra-types, and java-font-lock-extra-types, for example.

Warning: Major mode commands must not call font-lock-add-keywords under any circumstances, either directly or indirectly, except through their mode hooks. (Doing so would lead to incorrect behavior for some minor modes.) They should set up their rules for search-based fontification by setting font-lock-keywords.

— Function: font-lock-remove-keywords mode keywords

This function removes keywords from font-lock-keywords for the current buffer or for major mode mode. As in font-lock-add-keywords, mode should be a major mode command name or nil. All the caveats and requirements for font-lock-add-keywords apply here too.

For example, the following code adds two fontification patterns for C mode: one to fontify the word ‘FIXME’, even in comments, and another to fontify the words ‘and’, ‘or’ and ‘not’ as keywords.

     (font-lock-add-keywords 'c-mode
      '(("\\<\\(FIXME\\):" 1 font-lock-warning-face prepend)
        ("\\<\\(and\\|or\\|not\\)\\>" . font-lock-keyword-face)))

This example affects only C mode proper. To add the same patterns to C mode and all modes derived from it, do this instead:

     (add-hook 'c-mode-hook
      (lambda ()
       (font-lock-add-keywords nil
        '(("\\<\\(FIXME\\):" 1 font-lock-warning-face prepend)
          ("\\<\\(and\\|or\\|not\\)\\>" .
           font-lock-keyword-face)))))