I'm trying to highlight a syllable within a word in order to show that it is different from another word. How can I do this with * in org-mode and then properly export to LaTeX?

I'm on Windows 7 32-bit, Emacs 24.4.1 (i686-pc-mingw32), Org-mode version 8.2.10. I have followed the instructions on this page but something went wrong with Org -- it thinks an *.org file is a LaTeX file! I therefore had to comment out those lines in my .emacs configuration file. The lines I'm talking about are these:

(setcar org-emphasis-regexp-components " \t('\"{[:alpha:]")
(setcar (nthcdr 1 org-emphasis-regexp-components) "[:alpha:]- \t.,:!?;'\")}\\")
(org-set-emph-re 'org-emphasis-regexp-components org-emphasis-regexp-components)

I don't know why, but they don't work with my emacs. Are they still valid? Can anyone help me out, please? By the way I have this same question open on StackOverflow (here)


This is the structure of vocab.org. It has LaTeX tags at the bottom of the file so that when I export only the body as vocab.tex, it doesn't have problems recognizing vocab-main.tex as its master file. vocab-main.tex is a file containing all the font and page formatting that make the final pdf look good to the eyes.

vocab.org file structure

  • Can you switch to org-mode? (M-x org-mode)
    – JeanPierre
    Dec 28, 2015 at 22:42
  • Yes that works...temporarily only! At every restart of emacs, the problem reappears -- the text is white (I have opted for a dark emacs color-theme), as if it's plain text, no special Org-mode hooks applied to it. How do I fix it for good? Dec 29, 2015 at 13:20
  • I don't know what's going wrong here but another solution is to use a zero width space character as described here
    – JeanPierre
    Dec 29, 2015 at 14:54
  • 1
    From this discussion, it sounds like what you really want to do is have *.org files open in org-mode by default, is this correct? If so, you can add (add-to-list 'auto-mode-alist '("\\.org\\'" . org-mode)) to your init file
    – elethan
    Dec 29, 2015 at 14:56
  • @elethan I don't have a proper configuration for Org-mode since I usually work with AUCTEX but please have a look at my .emacs file (see above). I placed the new lines right at the bottom. Is it correct? Maybe that's the problem. Dec 29, 2015 at 16:12

1 Answer 1


The figure you added in the question explains everything! You have the line

mode: latex

in your file-local variables of the file vocab.org. And latex-mode is exactly what you get!

If you need these lines in your org-file you should add a line with only the special form-feed character ^L in it right after #+END_LATEX. You can input the form-feed character by typing C-q C-L or C-q C-l (after C-q uppercase or lowercase letter L with control key pressed).

File local variables are searched from the end of the file. The form-feed character limits this search forcefully.

The end of your file should look like in the following picture. Note the ^L in the picture! It should be marked by some color as control character.

enter image description here

  • Wait a minute, I lost you there. How should it look then? #+BEGIN_LaTeX: %%% Local Variables: %%% mode: latex %%% TeX-master: "vocab-main" %%% End: #+END_LaTeX ^L Is it correct? Is ^L on the following new line? 'Cause it still doesn't see it as an org file and I have to type M-x org-mode... Dec 30, 2015 at 11:11
  • Yes, the character sequence is (insert "\n\014\n") in lisp.
    – Tobias
    Dec 30, 2015 at 11:16
  • Just saw your edit. Re-wrote those tags, now things seems fine. Dec 30, 2015 at 11:18

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