git clone 'git://github.com/jorgenschaefer/typoel.git'

Emacs mode for typographical editing

typo.el includes two modes, typo-mode and typo-global-mode.

typo-mode is a buffer-specific minor mode that will change a number of normal keys to make them insert typographically useful unicode characters. Some of those keys can be used repeatedly to cycle through variations. This includes in particular quotation marks and dashes.

typo-global-mode introduces a global minor mode which adds the C-c 8 prefix to complement Emacs’ default C-x 8 prefix map.

See the documentation of typo-mode and typo-global-mode for further details.

Quotation Marks

“He said, ‘leave me alone,’ and closed the door.”

All quotation marks in this sentence were added by hitting the “ key exactly once each. typo.el guessed the correct glyphs to use from context. If it gets it wrong, you can just repeat hitting the ” key until you get the quotation mark you wanted.

M-x typo-change-language lets you change which quotation marks to use. This is also configurable, in case you want to add your own.

Dashes and Dots

The hyphen key will insert a default hyphen-minus glyph. On repeated use, though, it will cycle through the en-dash, em-dash, and a number of other dash-like glyphs available in Unicode. This means that typing two dashes inserts an en-dash and typing three dashes inserts an em-dash, as would be expected. The name of the currently inserted dash is shown in the minibuffer.

The full stop key will self-insert as usual. When three dots are inserted in a row, though, they are replaced by a horizontal ellipsis glyph.

Other Keys

Tick and backtick keys insert the appropriate quotation mark as well. The less-than and greater-than signs cycle insert the default glyphs on first use, but cycle through double and single guillemets on repeated use.

Prefix Map

In addition to the above, typo-global-mode also provides a globally-accessible key map under the C-c 8 prefix (akin to Emacs’ default C-x 8 prefix map) to insert various Unicode characters.

In particular, C-c 8 SPC will insert a no-break space. Continued use of SPC after this will cycle through half a dozen different space types available in Unicode.

Check the mode’s documentation for more details.

Download and Installation

Download typo.el and put it somewhere in your load-path.

Add the following to your .emacs:

(typo-global-mode 1)
(add-hook 'text-mode-hook 'typo-mode)


Unicode supports ligatures (ff, fi, fl, ffi, ffl). This is nice, but quite a lot of fonts lack support for this. Also, it could be argued that ligatures should happen as part of the display process, not in the document. Use ZERO WIDTH NON-JOINER (C-c 8 SPC SPC SPC) to prevent two characters from being merged like this.

Until fonts widely support ligatures, typo.el will not support them.