Node:List Syntax, Next:, Up:Lists

22.2.1 List Read Syntax

The syntax for lists is an opening parentheses, then all the elements of the list (separated by whitespace) and finally a closing parentheses.1.

(1 2 3)            ; a list of the numbers 1, 2 and 3
("foo" bar 3.1415) ; a string, a symbol and a real number
()                 ; the empty list

The last example needs a bit more explanation. A list with no elements, called the empty list, is special in some ways. It is used for terminating lists by storing it into the cdr of the last pair that makes up a list. An example will clear that up:

(car '(1))
(cdr '(1))

This example also shows that lists have to be quoted (REFFIXME) when written, because they would otherwise be mistakingly taken as procedure applications (see Simple Invocation).


  1. Note that there is no separation character between the list elements, like a comma or a semicolon.