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Learning GNU Emacs, 3rd Edition by Bill Rosenblatt, Eric S. Raymond, Marc Loy, James Elliott, Debra Cameron

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Chapter 3. Search and Replace

The commands we discussed in the first two chapters are enough to get you started, but they’re certainly not enough to do any serious editing. If you’re using Emacs for anything longer than a few paragraphs, you’ll want the support this chapter describes. In this chapter, we cover the various ways that Emacs lets you search for and replace text. Emacs provides the traditional search and replace facilities you would expect in any editor; it also provides several important variants, including incremental searches, regular expression searches, and query-replace. We also cover spell-checking here, because it is a type of replacement (errors are sought and replaced with corrections). Finally, we cover word abbreviation mode; this feature is a type of automatic replacement that can be a real timesaver.

Different Kinds of Searches

While you’re editing, you frequently want to find something you’ve already typed. Rather than hunt through the file trying to find what you’re looking for, virtually all editors provide some kind of search feature that lets you look for a particular text string. Emacs is no exception to the rule. It supplies a search command—in fact, it provides a dizzying array of search commands. Here’s a quick summary of the different kinds of searches that are available:

Simple search

You give Emacs a search string, and it finds the next occurrence. You will find this search in almost any editor.

Incremental search

With incremental search, Emacs ...

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