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31.3.3 Customizing Lisp Indentation

The indentation pattern for a Lisp expression can depend on the function called by the expression. For each Lisp function, you can choose among several predefined patterns of indentation, or define an arbitrary one with a Lisp program.

The standard pattern of indentation is as follows: the second line of the expression is indented under the first argument, if that is on the same line as the beginning of the expression; otherwise, the second line is indented underneath the function name. Each following line is indented under the previous line whose nesting depth is the same.

If the variable lisp-indent-offset is non-nil, it overrides the usual indentation pattern for the second line of an expression, so that such lines are always indented lisp-indent-offset more columns than the containing list.

Certain functions override the standard pattern. Functions whose names start with def treat the second lines as the start of a body, by indenting the second line lisp-body-indent additional columns beyond the open-parenthesis that starts the expression.

You can override the standard pattern in various ways for individual functions, according to the lisp-indent-function property of the function name. Normally you would use this for macro definitions and specify it using the declare construct (see (elisp)Defining Macros section `Defining Macros' in the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual).

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