I know that it is possible to change the face used to display markup (bold, italic, etc.) in org-mode, just as explained here.

However, I would like to know if it is possible to have this kind of settings activated for just one particular buffer, instead of having it activated for all org-mode buffers. In other words, I'm looking for a per-buffer setting for special text highlight in org-mode.

I'm a language teacher and I have dictionaries in org-mode format; it would be great to have special highlight for the different parts of a word entry based on the org-mode markups. On the other hand, naturally I do have also personal notes in org-mode, and for those notes I want the org-mode markups just the way they are.

Thanks for your help.

  • 1
    Are you perhaps interested in binding org-emphasis-alist on a per-buffer basis? E.g., place (make-variable-buffer-local 'org-emphasis-alist) in your .emacs and then use file-local variable settings: gnu.org/software/emacs/manual/html_node/emacs/…
    – lawlist
    Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 14:54
  • Yes, it does answer to my question. I would consider it as a proper answer, not just a comment. It makes me wonder that, even if I'm not a programer, one day I should take the courage to read all through the emacs manuals... Thanks for your help. Commented Mar 27, 2017 at 19:04

1 Answer 1


The variable org-emphasis-alist is global, but can be made buffer-local with (make-variable-buffer-local 'org-emphasis-alist) inside the .emacs file. There are other methods to make variables buffer-local, but the above-mentioned approach seems appropriate in this circumstance.

In terms of setting buffer-local variables on a per-file basis, the manual describes a couple of way to set file variables: https://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/manual/html_node/emacs/Specifying-File-Variables.html#Specifying-File-Variables

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