With the help of these questions, I managed to prompt the user for a file name in org-capture and combine it with a timestamp.

(defun my/generate-org-note-name ()
  (let ((name (read-string "Name: "))
        (time (format-time-string "%Y%m%d%H%M%S")))
    (expand-file-name (format "%s-%s.org" time name) "~/org-wiki")))

(setq org-capture-templates
  '(("n" "note" plain 
     (file (my/generate-org-note-name))
     "#+TITLE: ")))

Now I would like to reuse this name and timestamp in the actual template.

  • File name: 2018010101230456-myfile.org
  • Template:

    #+TITLE: my file
    #+STAMP: 2018010101230456

I am trying to return a list with file path and template from my/generate-org-note-name and then append it to the first 3 elements. But it looks like something (maybe my quoting) is wrong:

(defun my/generate-org-note-name ()
  (let ((name (read-string "Name: "))
        (time (format-time-string "%Y%m%d%H%M%S")))
    (list (file (expand-file-name (format "%s-%s.org" time name) "~/org-wiki")))
          (format "#+TITLE: %s\n#+STAMP: %s\n" name time))

(setq org-capture-templates
  '((apply #'append (list (list "n" "note" 'plain) (call-interactively

The call to apply fails every time.

1 Answer 1


You can achieve this via some dedicated variables.

(defun my/generate-org-note-name ()
  (setq my-org-note--name (read-string "Name: "))
  (setq my-org-note--time (format-time-string "%Y%m%d%H%M%S"))
  (expand-file-name (format "%s-%s.org" my-org-note--time my-org-note--name) "~/org-wiki"))

(setq org-capture-templates
  '(("n" "note" plain 
     (function my/generate-org-note-name)
     "%(format \"#+TITLE: %s\n#+STAMP: %s\n\" my-org-note--name my-org-note--time)")))
  • Thanks a lot, this worked! Somehow I thought I should avoid setting a "global" variable, but it doesn't seem to matter!
    – xav
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 7:42
  • Would you know why the %(format... syntax is needed for the template? I tried to simply use (format... which seem to correctly return a string in the REPL but does not work when used directly in the org-capture-templates.
    – xav
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 8:15
  • the % syntax is used by the org-capture parser to eval sexps inside org-capture-templates. You can refer to the org-capture's source code.
    – Amos
    Commented Apr 11, 2018 at 8:32

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