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D.6.3 GTK styles

In a GTK style you specify the appearance widgets shall have. You can specify foreground and background color, background pixmap and font. The edit widget (where you edit the text) in Emacs is a GTK widget, but trying to specify a style for the edit widget will have no effect. This is so that Emacs compiled for GTK is compatible with Emacs compiled for other X toolkits. The settings for foreground, background and font for the edit widget is taken from the X resources; see section X Resources. Here is an example of two style declarations, ‘default’ and ‘ruler’:

pixmap_path "/usr/share/pixmaps:/usr/include/X11/pixmaps"

style "default"
  font_name = "helvetica 12"

  bg[NORMAL] = { 0.83, 0.80, 0.73 }
  bg[SELECTED] = { 0.0, 0.55, 0.55 }
  bg[INSENSITIVE] = { 0.77, 0.77, 0.66 }
  bg[ACTIVE] = { 0.0, 0.55, 0.55 }
  bg[PRELIGHT] = { 0.0, 0.55, 0.55 }

  fg[NORMAL] = "black"
  fg[SELECTED] = { 0.9, 0.9, 0.9 }
  fg[ACTIVE] = "black"
  fg[PRELIGHT] = { 0.9, 0.9, 0.9 }

  base[INSENSITIVE] = "#777766"
  text[INSENSITIVE] = { 0.60, 0.65, 0.57 }

  bg_pixmap[NORMAL] = "background.xpm"
  bg_pixmap[INSENSITIVE] = "background.xpm"
  bg_pixmap[ACTIVE] = "background.xpm"
  bg_pixmap[PRELIGHT] = "<none>"


style "ruler" = "default"
  font_name = "helvetica 8"

The style ‘ruler’ inherits from ‘default’. This way you can build on existing styles. The syntax for fonts and colors is described below.

As this example shows, it is possible to specify several values for foreground and background depending on the widget's state. The possible states are:


This is the default state for widgets.


This is the state for a widget that is ready to do something. It is also for the trough of a scroll bar, i.e. bg[ACTIVE] = "red" sets the scroll bar trough to red. Buttons that have been pressed but not released yet (“armed”) are in this state.


This is the state for a widget that can be manipulated, when the mouse pointer is over it—for example when the mouse is over the thumb in the scroll bar or over a menu item. When the mouse is over a button that is not pressed, the button is in this state.


This is the state for data that has been selected by the user. It can be selected text or items selected in a list. This state is not used in Emacs.


This is the state for widgets that are visible, but they can not be manipulated in the usual way—for example, buttons that can't be pressed, and disabled menu items. To display disabled menu items in yellow, use fg[INSENSITIVE] = "yellow".

Here are the things that can go in a style declaration:

bg[state] = color

This specifies the background color for the widget. Note that editable text doesn't use bg; it uses base instead.

base[state] = color

This specifies the background color for editable text. In Emacs, this color is used for the background of the text fields in the file dialog.

bg_pixmap[state] = "pixmap"

This specifies an image background (instead of a background color). pixmap should be the image file name. GTK can use a number of image file formats, including XPM, XBM, GIF, JPEG and PNG. If you want a widget to use the same image as its parent, use ‘<parent>’. If you don't want any image, use ‘<none>’. ‘<none>’ is the way to cancel a background image inherited from a parent style.

You can't specify the file by its absolute file name. GTK looks for the pixmap file in directories specified in pixmap_path. pixmap_path is a colon-separated list of directories within double quotes, specified at the top level in a ‘gtkrc’ file (i.e. not inside a style definition; see example above):

pixmap_path "/usr/share/pixmaps:/usr/include/X11/pixmaps"
fg[state] = color

This specifies the foreground color for widgets to use. It is the color of text in menus and buttons, and the color for the arrows in the scroll bar. For editable text, use text.

text[state] = color

This is the color for editable text. In Emacs, this color is used for the text fields in the file dialog.

font_name = "font"

This specifies the font for text in the widget. font is a Pango font name, for example ‘Sans Italic 10’, ‘Helvetica Bold 12’, ‘Courier 14’, ‘Times 18’. See below for exact syntax. The names are case insensitive.

There are three ways to specify a color: by name, in hexadecimal form, and with an RGB triplet.

A color name is written within double quotes, for example "red".

Hexadecimal form is the same as in X: #rrrrggggbbbb, where all three color specs must have the same number of hex digits (1, 2, 3 or 4).

An RGB triplet looks like { r, g, b }, where r, g and b are either integers in the range 0-65535 or floats in the range 0.0-1.0.

Pango font names have the form “family-list style-options size.” family-list is a comma separated list of font families optionally terminated by a comma. This way you can specify several families and the first one found will be used. family corresponds to the second part in an X font name, for example in


the family name is ‘times’.

style-options is a whitespace separated list of words where each word is a style, variant, weight, or stretch. The default value for all of these is normal.

A `style' corresponds to the fourth part of an X font name. In X font names it is the character ‘r’, ‘i’ or ‘o’; in Pango font names the corresponding values are normal, italic, or oblique.

A `variant' is either normal or small-caps. Small caps is a font with the lower case characters replaced by smaller variants of the capital characters.

Weight describes the “boldness” of a font. It corresponds to the third part of an X font name. It is one of ultra-light, light, normal, bold, ultra-bold, or heavy.

Stretch gives the width of the font relative to other designs within a family. It corresponds to the fifth part of an X font name. It is one of ultra-condensed, extra-condensed, condensed, semi-condensed, normal, semi-expanded, expanded, extra-expanded, or ultra-expanded.

size is a decimal number that describes the font size in points.

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