I have different single files where i store different types of data, one data type per file. For instance one file for addresses and one file with an entry for each of my music CD's.

I need the following functionality per data file: For each new headline I make, automatically insert a :PROPERTIES: drawer, with specified property keys, just below the headline.

So, for instance when in my address file, I hit C-c to add a new headline for a new entry, and I get something like this:

* <headline text to be made>

where the property keys ("Name", "Street", "Tel") are given with no property value.

Or, if my single file contains data for my mineral collection, I would like each new headline to look like this:

* <headline text to be made>

I have two questions:

1) How can I automatically insert such property drawers, with specified property keys, under each header, based on some file variable settings in the top of the file?

2) How can I cycle through the properties in a drawer to add property values to each property key?

1 Answer 1


You can use orgmode templating system (for question 1). At the begining of your org file, you can add the following lines:

 # -*- eval: (save-excursion  (org-babel-goto-named-src-block "mytemplate") (org-babel-execute-src-block)) ; -*-

 #+NAME: mytemplate
 #+BEGIN_SRC elisp :results none 
   (add-to-list 'org-structure-template-alist '("T" "* ?\n:PROPERTIES:\n   :Name:\n   :Street:\n   :Tel:\n:END:\n"))

When you will open you org file again, you will be asked for a confirmation (type 'y' for a temporary change (confirmation will be asked next time) or ! to avoid confirmation at next opening))

Then, when you need to insert a new entry, you only have to type <T then the <TAB> key and your template will be used. In the source code, the ? corresponds to where the cursor will be positioned after template insertion => you can change its place at your convenience.

Used reference: https://redd.it/64jhlt

  • Thanks so much! It works for my first question. So, I have a following up one: is the "save-excursion" in your code saving anything on my system, and if so, where? And where is the list "org-structure-template-alist" stored?
    – myotis
    Sep 3, 2017 at 15:37
  • The save-excursion is proposed in the reference I linked ( "save-excursion returns to where you were the last time you opened the buffer (the way it normally would)"). It is only a temporary save. The org-structure-template-alist is a variable that you can consult with C-h v org-structure-template-alist.
    – Lgen
    Sep 3, 2017 at 16:52

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