I am customizing my ~/.emacs file. Specifically, I am customizing org-mode's TODO list feature to include more tasks. However, I keep receiving the following error:

File mode specification error: (wrong-type-argument stringp\ (sequence "TODO" "IN-PROGRESS" "WAITING" "DONE"))

I've pasted my ~/.emacs file below. I am every new to emacs and org-mode. Would love any insights.

;; -*- mode: emacs-lisp -*-                                 

;; Disable the splash screen (to enable it agin, replace th\
e t with 0)                                                 
(setq inhibit-splash-screen t)

;; Enable transient mark mode                               
(transient-mark-mode 1)

;;;;org-mode configuration                                  
;; Enable org-mode                                          
(require 'org)
(setq org-todo-keywords
  '((sequence "TODO" "IN-PROGRESS" "WAITING" "DONE")))
(add-to-list 'auto-mode-alist '("\\.org\\'" . org-mode))

;; don't create backupfiles                                 
(setq make-backup-files nil)

;; don't create auto-save files                             
(setq auto-save-default nil)

Thanks -- any insights would be appreciated.

  • 2
    Have you tried emacs --debug-init? Your code runs fine for me. Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 20:36
  • I am not exactly sure what you mean.
    – coltsfan
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 20:45
  • 1
    What happens if you move e t with 0 ) back up to the line where it is supposed to be (save and restart Emacs)?
    – lawlist
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 20:55
  • 1
    You can use the shortcut C-x C-e to execute a lisp statement. Use this to narrow the problem down to one line, and it will be easier to find a solution.
    – user2699
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 1:27
  • 1
    And when are you getting this error? Is it when emacs starts, you open a file, or something else.
    – user2699
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 1:58

1 Answer 1


The original poster has continued a comment from line 3 onto line 4 without placing the standard semicolon comment delimiter at the beginning of line 4. The solution is to move e t with 0) on line 4 back up to line 3 where it belongs, or add at least one semicolon to the beginning of line 4. Then save the .emacs file and restart Emacs.

  • 1
    That gives a "Symbol's value as variable is void: e", rather than the error above, so I suspect that's a typo in copying the code to here.
    – user2699
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 1:42
  • @user2699 -- the other portions of the code are correct. There's really only a few lines of code for us to work with, and the one I have cited in the answer is the only one that is incorrect.
    – lawlist
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 1:49
  • True, but the error posted looks like it has something to do with org-todo-keywords, which makes me think the error must be with how the code is being called.
    – user2699
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 1:59
  • @user2699 -- I seem to remember an error back in the olden-days when org-agenda-files was not configured. Do you think that could be it (i.e., that variable needs to be set correctly for everything to work out-of-the-box)?
    – lawlist
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 1:59
  • That would be very odd. The error seems to be related to the mode line, delorie.com/gnu/docs/elisp-manual-21/elisp_351.html, but I can't replicate it.
    – user2699
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 2:12

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