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29.2 Tab Stops

For typing in tables, you can use M-i (tab-to-tab-stop). This command inserts indentation before point, enough to reach the next tab stop column.

You can specify the tab stops used by M-i. They are stored in a variable called tab-stop-list, as a list of column-numbers in increasing order.

The convenient way to set the tab stops is with M-x edit-tab-stops, which creates and selects a buffer containing a description of the tab stop settings. You can edit this buffer to specify different tab stops, and then type C-c C-c to make those new tab stops take effect. The buffer uses Overwrite mode (see section Minor Modes). edit-tab-stops records which buffer was current when you invoked it, and stores the tab stops back in that buffer; normally all buffers share the same tab stops and changing them in one buffer affects all, but if you happen to make tab-stop-list local in one buffer then edit-tab-stops in that buffer will edit the local settings.

Here is what the text representing the tab stops looks like for ordinary tab stops every eight columns.

 
        :       :       :       :       :       :
0         1         2         3         4
0123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678
To install changes, type C-c C-c

The first line contains a colon at each tab stop. The remaining lines are present just to help you see where the colons are and know what to do.

Note that the tab stops that control tab-to-tab-stop have nothing to do with displaying tab characters in the buffer. See section How Text Is Displayed, for more information on that.


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