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In the template itself, special %-escapes1 allow dynamic insertion of content. The templates are expanded in the order given here:

     %[file]     Insert the contents of the file given by file.
     %(sexp)     Evaluate Elisp sexp and replace with the result.
                       For convenience, %:keyword (see below) placeholders
                       within the expression will be expanded prior to this.
                       The sexp must return a string.
     %<...>      The result of format-time-string on the ... format specification.
     %t          Timestamp, date only.
     %T          Timestamp, with date and time.
     %u, %U      Like the above, but inactive timestamps.
     %i          Initial content, the region when capture is called while the
                 region is active.
                 The entire text will be indented like %i itself.
     %a          Annotation, normally the link created with org-store-link.
     %A          Like %a, but prompt for the description part.
     %l          Like %a, but only insert the literal link.
     %c          Current kill ring head.
     %x          Content of the X clipboard.
     %k          Title of the currently clocked task.
     %K          Link to the currently clocked task.
     %n          User name (taken from user-full-name).
     %f          File visited by current buffer when org-capture was called.
     %F          Full path of the file or directory visited by current buffer.
     %:keyword   Specific information for certain link types, see below.
     %^g         Prompt for tags, with completion on tags in target file.
     %^G         Prompt for tags, with completion all tags in all agenda files.
     %^t         Like %t, but prompt for date.  Similarly %^T, %^u, %^U.
                 You may define a prompt like %^{Birthday}t.
     %^C         Interactive selection of which kill or clip to use.
     %^L         Like %^C, but insert as link.
     %^{prop}p   Prompt the user for a value for property prop.
     %^{prompt}  prompt the user for a string and replace this sequence with it.
                 You may specify a default value and a completion table with
                 The arrow keys access a prompt-specific history.
     %\1 ... %\N Insert the text entered at the Nth %^{prompt}, where N is
                 a number, starting from 1.2
     %?          After completing the template, position cursor here.

For specific link types, the following keywords will be defined3:

     Link type                        |  Available keywords
     bbdb                             |  %:name %:company
     irc                              |  %:server %:port %:nick
     vm, vm-imap, wl, mh, mew, rmail, |  %:type %:subject %:message-id
     gnus, notmuch                    |  %:from %:fromname %:fromaddress
                                      |  %:to   %:toname   %:toaddress
                                      |  %:date (message date header field)
                                      |  %:date-timestamp (date as active timestamp)
                                      |  %:date-timestamp-inactive (date as inactive timestamp)
                                      |  %:fromto (either "to NAME" or "from NAME")4
     gnus                             |  %:group, for messages also all email fields
     eww, w3, w3m                     |  %:url
     info                             |  %:file %:node
     calendar                         |  %:date
     org-protocol                     |  %:link %:description %:annotation

To place the cursor after template expansion use:

     %?          After completing the template, position cursor here.


[1] If you need one of these sequences literally, escape the % with a backslash.

[2] As required in Emacs Lisp, it is necessary to escape any backslash character in a string with another backslash. So, in order to use ‘%\1’ placeholder, you need to write ‘%\\1’ in the template.

[3] If you define your own link types (see Adding hyperlink types), any property you store with org-store-link-props can be accessed in capture templates in a similar way.

[4] This will always be the other, not the user. See the variable org-from-is-user-regexp.