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1.1 Introduction to Line Editing

The following paragraphs describe the notation used to represent keystrokes.

The text C-k is read as ‘Control-K’ and describes the character produced when the <k> key is pressed while the Control key is depressed.

The text M-k is read as ‘Meta-K’ and describes the character produced when the Meta key (if you have one) is depressed, and the <k> key is pressed. The Meta key is labeled <ALT> on many keyboards. On keyboards with two keys labeled <ALT> (usually to either side of the space bar), the <ALT> on the left side is generally set to work as a Meta key. The <ALT> key on the right may also be configured to work as a Meta key or may be configured as some other modifier, such as a Compose key for typing accented characters.

If you do not have a Meta or <ALT> key, or another key working as a Meta key, the identical keystroke can be generated by typing <ESC> first, and then typing <k>. Either process is known as metafying the <k> key.

The text M-C-k is read as ‘Meta-Control-k’ and describes the character produced by metafying C-k.

In addition, several keys have their own names. Specifically, <DEL>, <ESC>, <LFD>, <SPC>, <RET>, and <TAB> all stand for themselves when seen in this text, or in an init file (see section Readline Init File). If your keyboard lacks a <LFD> key, typing <C-j> will produce the desired character. The <RET> key may be labeled <Return> or <Enter> on some keyboards.


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