There are (in my mind) two types of word wrapping:

  • Hard : Actually edit the file to have lines of a maximum length
  • Soft : Just wrap in the editor, but the underlying file still has long lines.

I can't figure out how to make Emacs do these two different types of word wrapping (most people just talk about "word wrap", without distinguishing which they are talking about).

  • 3
    Emacs uses the term "fill" for hard wrapping. – npostavs Sep 23 '16 at 12:14
  • 2
    C-h r to visit the Emacs manual. Then i wrap TAB RET. That completes wrap to wrapping and then visits the part of the manual (node Continuation Lines) that talks about this. In that node you also find a link to node Visual Line Mode, which talks about your "soft" wrapping. – Drew Sep 23 '16 at 16:20

Emacs uses visual-line-mode for the soft-wrap and auto-fill-mode (and/or refill-mode) for the hard-wrap. See What is the difference between refill-mode and auto-fill-mode? for the difference between the two.

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