In org-mode, when the contents of a subtree are hidden you see something like

* Some tree

** Another One...

Is there a way to change those ... to something else? I'd like to use something shorter like a utf-8 ellipsis or a rounded arrow.

3 Answers 3


Just customise the variable org-ellipsis. Something like

(setq org-ellipsis "…")
  • Awesome, I've set it to "⮷". I'm sure I'll get sick of it soon but right now it looks sweet.
    – Malabarba
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 13:50
  • 2
    If you want to change the appearance but not the symbol, you can set org-ellipsis to a face instead of a string.
    – erikstokes
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 22:02
  • @erikstokes Is there a way to do both (i.e. change the face and the symbol)?
    – ph0t0nix
    Commented Nov 16, 2015 at 14:56
  • @ph0t0nix Not a way as easy as just setting a variable. org-ellipsis only lets you customize one. You can hack the display table as in the other answers to set the face and the symbol.
    – erikstokes
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 3:01

You can change the characters more generally for selective display with:

(set-display-table-slot standard-display-table 
                        'selective-display (string-to-vector " ◦◦◦ ")) ; or whatever you like

I've been using these characters because I find them easier to see than the periods, and yet not too distracting. To each their own, though.

I got this from the EmacsWiki: look for the section on "Customizing Outline ellipsis" for more details.

  • Doh! Stefan beat me to it. I'll leave it up for the Wiki link.
    – Dan
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 12:58

Personally, instead of setting it only for Org, I do it globally with:

(unless standard-display-table
  (setq standard-display-table (make-display-table)))
(when (fboundp 'make-glyph-code)
  (set-display-table-slot standard-display-table 4
                          (vector (make-glyph-code ?…)
                                  (make-glyph-code ?…))))

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