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Learning GNU Emacs, Second Edition by Eric S. Raymond, Bill Rosenblatt, Debra Cameron

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Chapter 9. Simple Text Formatting and Specialized Editing

Emacs is fundamentally a file editor, rather than a word processor. It is a tool that creates files containing exactly what you see on the screen, rather than a tool that can make text files look beautiful when printed. However, Emacs does give you the capability to do the following:

  • Indent text in a variety of ways.

  • Center words, lines, and paragraphs of text.

  • Create simple diagrams, rough sketches, and pictures to insert in papers or in mail messages (something most word processors and graphics packages can’t do at all).

  • Edit by column rather than by line (especially helpful when you create or change tables), referred to in Emacs as rectangle editing.

  • Hide and show portions of a document using outline mode, which gives you a feel for the document’s overall structure. Outline mode can make it easier to go from rough outline, to detailed outline, to rough draft, to the final product.

In addition to these items, which we’ll describe in this chapter, Emacs allows you to use various fonts and colors in your buffers if your monitor has the ability to display them; See Chapter 14 for more information. Emacs also has special modes for use with the troff, TEX, and Scribe formatting programs. These modes are described in Chapter 9.

Indenting Text

In writing outlines, papers, specs, or almost anything else, you may find you want to indent some text. Emacs offers several ways to do this. First we’ll talk about using tabs, the simplest ...

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