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38.12.4 Displaying Faces

When Emacs displays a given piece of text, the visual appearance of the text may be determined by faces drawn from different sources. If these various sources together specify more than one face for a particular character, Emacs merges the attributes of the various faces. Here is the order in which Emacs merges the faces, from highest to lowest priority:

At each stage, if a face has a valid :inherit attribute, Emacs treats any attribute with an unspecified value as having the corresponding value drawn from the parent face(s). see Face Attributes. Note that the parent face(s) may also leave the attribute unspecified; in that case, the attribute remains unspecified at the next level of face merging.