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31.17.5 Adjustable “Tab Stops”

This section explains the mechanism for user-specified “tab stops” and the mechanisms that use and set them. The name “tab stops” is used because the feature is similar to that of the tab stops on a typewriter. The feature works by inserting an appropriate number of spaces and tab characters to reach the next tab stop column; it does not affect the display of tab characters in the buffer (see Usual Display). Note that the TAB character as input uses this tab stop feature only in a few major modes, such as Text mode. See Tab Stops in The GNU Emacs Manual.

Command: tab-to-tab-stop

This command inserts spaces or tabs before point, up to the next tab stop column defined by tab-stop-list.

User Option: tab-stop-list

This variable defines the tab stop columns used by tab-to-tab-stop. It should be either nil, or a list of increasing integers, which need not be evenly spaced. The list is implicitly extended to infinity through repetition of the interval between the last and penultimate elements (or tab-width if the list has fewer than two elements). A value of nil means a tab stop every tab-width columns.

Use M-x edit-tab-stops to edit the location of tab stops interactively.