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8.8 Continuation Lines

When a text line is too long to fit in one screen line, Emacs displays it on two or more screen lines. This is called continuation or line wrapping. On graphical displays, Emacs indicates line wrapping with small bent arrows in the left and right window fringes. On text-only terminals, Emacs displays a ‘\’ character at the right margin of a screen line if it is not the last in its text line. This ‘\’ character says that the following screen line is not really a new text line.

When line wrapping occurs just before a character that is wider than one column, some columns at the end of the previous screen line may be “empty.” In this case, Emacs displays additional ‘\’ characters in the “empty” columns before the ‘\’ character that indicates continuation.

Continued lines can be difficult to read, since lines can break in the middle of a word. If you prefer, you can make Emacs insert a newline automatically when a line gets too long, by using Auto Fill mode. Or enable Long Lines mode, which ensures that wrapping only occurs between words. See section Filling Text.

Emacs can optionally truncate long lines—this means displaying just one screen line worth, and the rest of the long line does not appear at all. ‘$’ in the last column or a small straight arrow in the window's right fringe indicates a truncated line.

See section Truncation of Lines, for more about line truncation, and other variables that control how text is displayed.


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