Is it possible to make blank lines at the end of tree part of that tree? So I can heave two headings like this:

* Heading1
* Heading2

without space between them, but when Heading1 is expanded there is a blank line at the end that does not propagate upwards. Like this:

* Heading1

  * Subheading1
  * Subheading2

* Heading2

It find it visually pleasing to have a blank line between Subheading2 and Heading2 but when Heading1 is collapsed I do not want to have a blank line between Heading1 and Heading2 ( I use org-indent-mode).

Currently I can have only the version without blank line at the end and without blank line between Heading1 and Heading2:

* Heading1

  * Subheading1
  * Subheading2
* Heading2

or version with blank line at the end of expanded Heading1 BUT that blank line propagates upwards and it appears between Heading1 and Heading2:

* Heading1

* Heading2
  • What you are saying should not be happening with the default value of org-cycle-separator-lines = 2. Have you set that to 1 in your config? Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 22:26
  • No, I have it set to 2.
    – fillemon
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 22:27
  • Isn't this what you get in an emacs -Q session? I am running org built from the latest commit on its master branch. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 22:31
  • Well, on that video it can be clearly seen in 0:51 that if you press TAB on heading for the first time, you get subheadings WITHOUT blank line at the end which is what I am trying to solve because very often I dont want to expand all the way down but only to see subheadings.
    – fillemon
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 22:44
  • Sorry, there was some confusion at my end as I had initially copied your example and so I had white space preceeding the sub headings * Subheading1 ... It's now clear that you need to see that white space in the CONTENTS view. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 22:58

1 Answer 1


It does not look like there is an easy/built-in way to customize this behavior.

The function org-cycle-show-empty-lines in org.el appears to be responsible for displaying whitespace between headings. (org-cycle-show-empty-lines is the only place in org.el where org-cycle-separator-lines is used).

This function appears to operate as follows:

  • use org-cycle-separator-lines to build a regex
  • use the regex to find any places that should cause 1 or more lines of whitespace to be displayed between headings
  • display whitespace in the desired places

In other words, the function is pretty much hardcoded to act as described here.

I found a few posts which modify similar folding behavior

I'm afraid that I don't know enough elisp to provide an appropriate function definition yet. But I found a few other posts which have definitions for similar behavior -- that could at least contribute a starting point for a solution.

  • Hide tags in outline view. The solution appears to be a function which you'd run in org-cycle-hook. The docstring for org-cycle-show-empty-lines mentions that hook

    Show empty lines above all visible headlines. The region to be covered depends on STATE when called through `org-cycle-hook'.

    so it may be possible to get the desired behavior in org-cycle-show-empty-lines by mucking with STATE in org-cycle-hook.

  • Completely hide the PROPERTIES drawer. The solution appears to be a complete rewrite of org-cycle-hide-drawers, a pre-existing function in org.el. In your case, this approach would involve a rewrite of org-cycle-separator-lines.

Org mode version info: Org-mode version 8.2.10 (release_8.2.10 @ /usr/local/Cellar/emacs-mac/emacs-25.2-z-mac-6.6/share/emacs/25.2/lisp/org/)

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