My AUCTeX setup isn't loading any local per-package auto-generated style files. Suppose I have a simple package doc-preamble.sty

% doc-preamble.sty
\newcommand*{\mycmd}[1]{Hello, #1!}

and I use that in doc-main.tex (in the same directory):

% doc-main.tex


\newcommand*{\myothercmd}[1]{Goodbye, #1!}


This is a test.


Then, when working in doc-main.tex, the configuration for doc-preamble.sty isn't loaded. In this case, that means that \cref (from cleveref) and \mycmd don't show up as autocomplete results for TeX-insert-macro (C-c C-m), the \cref reference style isn't available to RefTeX, etc.

The configuration for doc-main.tex, on the other hand, is available, so configuration in general works: commands like \url, as well as \myothercmd, are both available from TeX-insert-macro (C-c C-m), and \url is correctly formatted as a verbatim command.

The value of TeX-active-styles in doc-main.tex is, strangely,

("url" "doc-preamble" "art10" "article" "latex2e" "doc-main" "LATEX")

So AUCTeX knows that doc-preamble is being used, but not what to do when using it.

Relatedly, the AUCTeX .el files are being generated, so that's not the issue. They even look right:

;; doc-preamble.el
 (lambda ()
    '("mycmd" 1)))
;; doc-main.el
 (lambda ()
   (add-to-list 'LaTeX-verbatim-macros-with-braces-local "url")
   (add-to-list 'LaTeX-verbatim-macros-with-braces-local "path")
   (add-to-list 'LaTeX-verbatim-macros-with-delims-local "url")
   (add-to-list 'LaTeX-verbatim-macros-with-delims-local "path")
    '("myothercmd" 1)))

The doc-preamble.el file simply isn't being loaded as far as I can tell.

Thanks to giordano, I was able to find a possible reason for this behavior. (This reason is still a symptom of whatever the underlying problem is.)

My AUCTeX configuration includes the line (setq TeX-auto-local ".auctex-auto"). And while this variable retains its value, when I query TeX-style-path with C-h C-v, I get (reformatted)

TeX-style-path is a variable defined in `tex.el'.
Its value is
("/usr/local/var/auctex" "/Users/antal/.emacs.d/elpa/auctex-11.89.4/style"
 "/Users/antal/.emacs.d/auctex/auto" "/Users/antal/.emacs.d/auctex/style"
 "auto" "style")

Original value was 
("/usr/local/var/auctex" "/Users/antal/.emacs.d/elpa/auctex-11.89.4/style"
 "/Users/antal/.emacs.d/auctex/auto" "/Users/antal/.emacs.d/auctex/style"
 ".auctex-auto" "style")

Note that, somehow, my setting for TeX-auto-local (which correctly has the value ".auctex-auto") is being overwritten in TeX-style-path: the new value uses "auto" where the original used ".auctex-auto"!

Thus, TeX-auto-local is being overridden, but not changed! This pushes the question back to "why is this happening"?

I'm using AUCTeX 11.89.4. I'm not sure if I'm doing something wrong, if I've got a bug in my configuration, or what, so I'm not sure which parts of my configuration are important, but here are some potentially relevant pieces of my configuration:

(require 'tex)
(require 'latex)
(require 'reftex)

(setq TeX-auto-save  t
      TeX-parse-self t)

(add-hook 'LaTeX-mode-hook #'reftex-mode)
(setq reftex-plug-into-AUCTeX '(nil t t t t))

(setq TeX-auto-local ".auctex-auto")

(TeX-global-PDF-mode t)

(add-hook 'LaTeX-mode-hook #'auto-fill-mode)
(add-hook 'LaTeX-mode-hook #'flyspell-mode)

There's also some custom advice that I don't think is relevant, but I've included the advice-add calls below in case one of those functions is dangerous to advise (the definitions of the advice functions are available if necessary):

(advice-add #'LaTeX-indent-calculate-last
            :around #'LaTeX-indent-calculate-last--outdent-label)
(advice-add #'TeX-command-sequence-sentinel
            :after #'TeX-sentinel-manage-error-buffer)
(advice-add #'reftex-reference
            :around #'reftex-reference-negatable-prompt
            '((depth . -50)))
(advice-add #'reftex-format-special
            :filter-return #'reftex-format-special-handle-cleveref)
(advice-add #'reftex-ref-style-list
            :filter-return #'reftex-ref-style-list-maybe-preferentially)
(advice-add #'reftex-reference
            :around #'reftex-reference-no-promt-preferentially)

2 Answers 2


The problem was that I did

(require 'tex)


(setq TeX-auto-local ".auctex-auto")

In AUCTeX, the definition of TeX-style-path is via a defcustom form, which sets TeX-style-path to the result of evaluating an expression that builds up a list by referring to the values of TeX-auto-local and similar variables. (require 'tex) before setting TeX-auto-local, the value of TeX-style-path got set to a value that referenced the old value of TeX-auto-local, and was never reinitialized.

If I remove the (require 'tex), or simply move (setq TeX-auto-local ".auctex-auto") before it (there are later parts of my config that require it to be loaded), then everything works fine.

Another option would be to re-initialize TeX-style-path, about which see the next section.

One piece of the mysteriousness, though, is that describe-variable (C-h v) for TeX-style-path claimed (reformatted):

TeX-style-path is a variable defined in `tex.el'.
Its value is
("/usr/local/var/auctex" "/Users/antal/.emacs.d/elpa/auctex-11.89.4/style"
 "/Users/antal/.emacs.d/auctex/auto" "/Users/antal/.emacs.d/auctex/style"
 "auto" "style")

Original value was 
("/usr/local/var/auctex" "/Users/antal/.emacs.d/elpa/auctex-11.89.4/style"
 "/Users/antal/.emacs.d/auctex/auto" "/Users/antal/.emacs.d/auctex/style"
 ".auctex-auto" "style")

Why was the "original value" different if nothing had ever changed TeX-style-path? The answer is that defcustom stores, not the initial value of a variable, but the initial expression that created it, and re-evals it to see if the "original value" was different. Since one of the variables that TeX-style-path's definition referenced was the now-changed TeX-auto-local, the "original value" was inaccurate upon recomputation.

This is also why it's possible to reset the value of TeX-style-path to its "default" value, as mentioned above.

For reference, the defcustom form that sets TeX-style-path to its default value in AUCTeX version 11.89.4:

(defcustom TeX-style-path
  (let ((path))
    ;; Put directories in an order where the more local files can
    ;; override the more global ones.
    (mapc (lambda (file)
            (when (and file (not (member file path)))
              (setq path (cons file path))))
          (append (list TeX-auto-global TeX-style-global)
                  TeX-auto-private TeX-style-private
                  (list TeX-auto-local TeX-style-local)))
    (nreverse path))
  "List of directories to search for AUCTeX style files.
Per default the list is built from the values of the variables
`TeX-auto-global', `TeX-style-global', `TeX-auto-private',
`TeX-style-private', `TeX-auto-local', and `TeX-style-local'."
  :group 'TeX-file
  :type '(repeat (file :format "%v")))

As we can see, it references TeX-auto-local, and this is the only place that TeX-style-path is set.


Instead of bending TeX-auto-local and TeX-style-path to your will, you might want give TeX-auto-generate a try instead? Also see here: https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/410393/how-to-properly-set-up-auctex-to-parse-macros-from-my-own-sty-files

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