Face attributes determine the visual appearance of a face. The following table lists all the face attributes, their possible values, and their effects.
Apart from the values given below, each face attribute can have the
unspecified. This special value means that the face
doesn’t specify that attribute directly. An
attribute tells Emacs to refer instead to a parent face (see the
:inherit attribute below); or, failing that, to an
underlying face (see Displaying Faces). (However,
unspecified is not a valid value in
A face attribute can also have the value
reset. This special
value stands for the value of the corresponding attribute of the
default face must explicitly specify all attributes, and
cannot use the special value
Some of these attributes are meaningful only on certain kinds of displays. If your display cannot handle a certain attribute, the attribute is ignored.
Font family name (a string). See Fonts in The GNU
Emacs Manual, for more information about font families. The function
font-family-list (see below) returns a list of available family
The name of the font foundry for the font family specified by
:family attribute (a string). See Fonts in The
GNU Emacs Manual.
Relative character width. This should be one of the symbols
The height of the font. In the simplest case, this is an integer in units of 1/10 point.
The value can also be floating point or a function, which specifies the height relative to an underlying face (see Displaying Faces). A floating-point value specifies the amount by which to scale the height of the underlying face. A function value is called with one argument, the height of the underlying face, and returns the height of the new face. If the function is passed an integer argument, it must return an integer.
The height of the default face must be specified using an integer; floating point and function values are not allowed.
Font weight—one of the symbols (from densest to faintest)
ultra-light. On text terminals which support
variable-brightness text, any weight greater than normal is displayed
as extra bright, and any weight less than normal is displayed as
Font slant—one of the symbols
text terminals that support variable-brightness text, slanted text is
displayed as half-bright.
Foreground color, a string. The value can be a system-defined color name, or a hexadecimal color specification. See Color Names. On black-and-white displays, certain shades of gray are implemented by stipple patterns.
Alternative foreground color, a string. This is like
but the color is only used as a foreground when the background color is
near to the foreground that would have been used. This is useful for
example when marking text (i.e., the region face). If the text has a foreground
that is visible with the region face, that foreground is used.
If the foreground is near the region face background,
:distant-foreground is used instead so the text is readable.
Background color, a string. The value can be a system-defined color name, or a hexadecimal color specification. See Color Names.
Whether or not characters should be underlined, and in what
way. The possible values of the
:underline attribute are:
Underline with the foreground color of the face.
Underline in color color, a string specifying a color.
(:color color :style style :position position)
color is either a string, or the symbol
meaning the foreground color of the face. Omitting the attribute
:color means to use the foreground color of the face.
style should be a symbol
wave, meaning to
use a straight or wavy line. Omitting the attribute
means to use a straight line. position, if non-
nil, means to
display the underline at the descent of the text, instead of at the
baseline level. If it is a number, then it specifies the amount of
pixels above the descent to display the underline.
Whether or not characters should be overlined, and in what color.
If the value is
t, overlining uses the foreground color of the
face. If the value is a string, overlining uses that color. The
nil means do not overline.
Whether or not characters should be strike-through, and in what
color. The value is used like that of
Whether or not a box should be drawn around characters, its color, the
width of the box lines, and 3D appearance. Here are the possible
values of the
:box attribute, and what they mean:
Don’t draw a box.
Draw a box with lines of width 1, in the foreground color.
Draw a box with lines of width 1, in color color.
(:line-width (vwidth . hwidth) :color color :style style)
You can explicitly specify all aspects of the box with a plist on this form. Any element in this plist can be omitted.
The values vwidth and hwidth specifies respectively the
width of the vertical and horizontal lines to draw; they default to (1
. 1). A negative horizontal or vertical width −n means
to draw a line of width n that occupies the space of the
underlying text, thus avoiding any increase in the character height or
width. For simplification the width could be specified with only a
single number n instead of a list, such case is equivalent to
((abs n) . n).
The value style specifies whether to draw a 3D box. If it is
released-button, the box looks like a 3D button that is not
being pressed. If it is
pressed-button, the box looks like a
3D button that is being pressed. If it is
flat-button or omitted, a plain 2D box is used.
The value color specifies the color to draw with. The default
is the background color of the face for 3D boxes and
flat-button, and the foreground color of the face for other
Whether or not characters should be displayed in inverse video. The
value should be
t (yes) or
The background stipple, a bitmap.
The value can be a string; that should be the name of a file containing
external-format X bitmap data. The file is found in the directories
listed in the variable
Alternatively, the value can specify the bitmap directly, with a list
of the form
(width height data). Here,
width and height specify the size in pixels, and
data is a string containing the raw bits of the bitmap, row by
row. Each row occupies (width + 7) / 8 consecutive bytes
in the string (which should be a unibyte string for best results).
This means that each row always occupies at least one whole byte.
If the value is
nil, that means use no stipple pattern.
Normally you do not need to set the stipple attribute, because it is used automatically to handle certain shades of gray.
The font used to display the face. Its value should be a font object or a fontset. If it is a font object, it specifies the font to be used by the face for displaying ASCII characters. See Low-Level Font Representation, for information about font objects, font specs, and font entities. See Fontsets, for information about fontsets.
When specifying this attribute using
set-face-font (see Face Attribute Functions), you may also
supply a font spec, a font entity, or a string. Emacs converts such
values to an appropriate font object, and stores that font object as
the actual attribute value. If you specify a string, the contents of
the string should be a font name (see Fonts in The GNU Emacs
Manual); if the font name is an XLFD containing wildcards, Emacs
chooses the first font matching those wildcards. Specifying this
attribute also changes the values of the
The name of a face from which to inherit attributes, or a list of face
names. Attributes from inherited faces are merged into the face like
an underlying face would be, with higher priority than underlying
faces (see Displaying Faces). If the face to inherit from is
unspecified, it is treated the same as
nil, since Emacs
:inherit attributes. If a list of faces is used,
attributes from faces earlier in the list override those from later
Whether or not this face will be extended beyond end of line and will
affect the display of the empty space between the end of line and the
edge of the window. The value should be
t to display the empty
space between end of line and edge of the window using this face, or
nil to not use this face for the space between the end of the
line and the edge of the window. When Emacs merges several faces for
displaying the empty space beyond end of line, only those faces with
nil will be merged. By default, only a
small number of faces, notably,
region, have this attribute
set. This attribute is different from the others in that when a theme
doesn’t specify an explicit value for a face, the value from the
original face definition by
defface is inherited
(see Defining Faces).
Some modes, like
hl-line-mode, use a face with an
:extend property to mark the entire current line. Note,
however, that Emacs will always allow you to move point after the
final character in a buffer, and if the buffer ends with a newline
character, point can be placed on what is seemingly a line at the end
of the buffer—but Emacs can’t highlight that “line”, because it
doesn’t really exist.
This function returns a list of available font family names. The
optional argument frame specifies the frame on which the text is
to be displayed; if it is
nil, the selected frame is used.
This variable specifies the minimum distance between the baseline and the underline, in pixels, when displaying underlined text.
This variable specifies a list of directories for searching
for bitmap files, for the
t if object is a valid bitmap specification,
suitable for use with
:stipple (see above). It returns