I'd like to get line numbers displayed for all the source blocks in Exported file ( html/pdf)

For a particular souce block, I got to add the switch -n to the source block

#+BEGIN_SRC C++ -n
  using namespace std;
  int main() {
      cout<<"Hello World";
      return 0;

Is it possible to add this switch globally in properties drawer or any better way?
So that I don’t have to add switches like these on all the source blocks..

2 Answers 2


The elisp code below provides some basic functionality for setting source block switches on a per-file basis with org-version 9.0.5.

You can set switches for all source blocks within a subtree with the switches property. If switches is set before the first heading it is valid for the whole file.

For an example the org-file

#+PROPERTY: switches: +n
* first level
  #+BEGIN_SRC emacs-lisp
(message "block in first level")
** second level
   #+BEGIN_SRC emacs-lisp
(message "block in second level")
(message "second line")   
* second heading in the first level
  #+BEGIN_SRC emacs-lisp
(message "first line")
(message "second line")

exports the following rendered html-output. exported orgmode file

This is only a very basic implementation. A better implementation would require changes on the orgmode source code itself. Since this feature is very reasonable I've filed an enhancement request at the orgmode mailing list.

(require 'cl-lib)
(require 'org)
(require 'ox)
(require 'org-element)

(defvar org-src-switch-alist nil
  "Alist mapping an org source code switches to its argument parser (which can be nil) and its interpreter.")
(setq org-src-switches-alist
  '(("-n" org-src-parse-number (lambda (num) (list :number-lines (cons 'new (or num 0)))))
    ("+n" org-src-parse-number (lambda (num) (list :number-lines (cons 'continued (or num 0)))))
    ("-r" nil (:retain-labels nil))
    ("-i" nil (:preserve-indent t))
    ("-l" org-src-parse-quoted-string (lambda (str) (assert (stringp str)) (list :label-fmt str)))
    ("-k" nil (:use-labels t))))

(defun org-src-parse-number ()
  "Parse number at point and return it as the only element of a list.
If parsing fails the return value is (nil)."
   (when (looking-at "[0-9]")
     (read (current-buffer)))))

(defun org-src-parse-quoted-string ()
  "Parse quoted string at point and return it as the only element of a list.
If parsing fails the return value is (nil)."
   (when (looking-at "\"")
     (read (current-buffer)))))

(defun org-src-switch-parse (str)
  "Parse org mode source block switches in string STR."
  (let ((sw-re (regexp-opt (mapcar 'car org-src-switches-alist)))
      (insert str)
      (goto-char (point-min))
      (while (progn
               (skip-syntax-forward  " ")
               (looking-at sw-re))
        (goto-char (match-end 0))
        (let* ((sw (assoc-string (match-string 0) org-src-switches-alist))
               (parser (cadr sw))
               (interpreter (nth 2 sw))
          (skip-syntax-forward " ")
          (when parser
            (setq args (funcall parser)))
          (setq ret
                 (if (functionp interpreter)
                     (apply interpreter args)

(defun org-src-switch-propagate (keyword-element)
  (let ((value
         (and (string-equal (org-element-property :key keyword-element) "PROPERTY")
              (org-element-property :value keyword-element))))
    (when (and value (string-match "switches:" (downcase value)))
      (setq value (org-src-switch-parse (substring value (match-end 0))))
      (let ((parent (org-element-property :parent keyword-element)))
    (when (and
           (eq (org-element-type parent) 'section)
           (eq (org-element-type (org-element-property :parent parent)) 'org-data))
      (setq parent (org-element-property :parent parent)))
        '(src-block example-block)
      `(lambda (bl)
         (cl-loop for pair on ',value by 'cddr
              do (org-element-put-property bl (car pair) (cadr pair)))))))))

(defun org-element-parse-buffer-ad (info)
  "Filter the INFO returned by `org-element-parse-buffer' for global switches
and apply them to source code blocks."
  (org-element-map info 'keyword #'org-src-switch-propagate)

(advice-add #'org-element-parse-buffer :filter-return #'org-element-parse-buffer-ad)
  • Hi @Tobias, thanks for the concise solution ..im using version 8.2.10 and in this version this solution isnt working ill try to upgrade and check this..
    – junnu
    Commented Jul 6, 2017 at 4:02

I'm not sure how to do header args without :name arg format (e.g. just the -n in your example), but perhaps the following will help:

A specific language:

(setq org-babel-default-header-args:sh
  '((:prologue . "exec 2>&1") (:epilogue . ":"))

All languages:

 (setq org-babel-default-header-args
       (cons '(:noweb . "yes")
             (assq-delete-all :noweb org-babel-default-header-args)))

Source: http://orgmode.org/manual/System_002dwide-header-arguments.html

  • 1
    The original poster @junnu names -n in the header line correctly as switch. It is not a header argument. I doubt that your proposal helps with switches. I had a look into the source of org-element-src-block-parser and also in the exporter. The switches are quite hard-coded. Perhaps one would have a chance to override the :switches property in the element parser generated info via some advice somewhere. But, I don't have the time to try that.
    – Tobias
    Commented Jul 5, 2017 at 11:34

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