In typography, there's a practice called 'protrusion' (or hanging punctuation) that allows certain symbols to hang off the end of the margin:


I'd like to do the same thing for my text documents.

Can I change fill-paragraph (and friends?) to ignore end-of-line punctuation (.?!:;,'"-) when it fills the paragraph?

  • I'm not sure whether you can really call protrusion (subtle shifting of trailing punctuation) of justified text comparable to ignoring trailing punctuation when hard-wrapping text (which doesn't justify text by default, making the effect essentially invisible). Perhaps you'd like to add that this applies to the justified variant of fill-paragraph?
    – wasamasa
    Oct 24, 2015 at 7:28
  • @wasamasa Protrusion still exists for flush left text blocks. Oct 24, 2015 at 13:19
  • Does it apply to the left edge of the text then?
    – wasamasa
    Oct 24, 2015 at 13:26
  • @wasamasa Unless you're dealing with an RTL language and editor (which, while supported, I feel is out-of-scope), it doesn't make sense. If you have a flush right block and you 'run out of room' on the left margin (i.e., column 0), you can't exactly put the punctuation in column -1. (I suppose you could shift the right margin to (1+ fill-column), but that would change the filling and you could get caught in a loop.) Oct 24, 2015 at 13:47
  • 1
    @wasamasa In terms of implementation: unfill. jump to fill-column. if point is looking at a single character of punctuation and then whitespace, skip forward. else if in the middle of a word, skip backward. newline, repeat. Oct 24, 2015 at 18:40

1 Answer 1


Aha, I have the solution! Put this somewhere in your .emacs/.emacs.d/init.el file:

(define-advice current-fill-column (:filter-return (rtn) protrusion)
  "Advice to allow hanging punctuation when filling text."
  ;; Get the character after the proposed cutoff point
  (let ((end-char (char-after (1+ rtn))))
    (if (and end-char
             ;; Check if character is in the “punctuation” syntax table…
             (or (eq (char-syntax end-char) ?.)
                 ;; …or is any of these characters (feel free to add more)
                 (memq end-char (string-to-list ".,!?;:-"))))
        ;; If so, return the original value, plus one.
        (1+ rtn)
      ;; Otherwise, do nothing and return the original value.

I’ve tested this with fill-paragraph, and it should work for all the fill functions (since they all use current-fill-column when processing each line). I hope you like it! 😇

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