So I'm trying to figure out why the following produces unexpected output:

(setq var 1)
(pp var)
(princ var)

Put the cursor just after the closing ) in the expression (setq var 1) and then press C-xC-e to evaluate it. I see the following in the echo area: 1 (#o1 #x1 ?\C-a). I think this makes sense - it's just listing the number 1 several different ways.

I go on to evaluate (C-xC-e again) (pp var) and then see the following: 1"1"

Why do I see the 1 twice?

Why is it listed inside the double-quotes the second time

Likewise, when I go on to evaluate (C-xC-e) (princ var) and then see the following: 11 (#o1 #x1 ?\C-a)

Why is there an 11 at the start? I'm guessing that it's printing the value 1 twice, right next to each other (instead of printing the number 11), but why is it printing 1 twice?

  • 1
    Please always state clearly how you are "evaluating" something. As @xuchunyang's answer says, you are no doubt not just evaluating the sexp. You are also printing its value, and the result of your command is being echoed.
    – Drew
    Jun 28, 2018 at 16:01
  • Whoops - sorry, I didn't know that would be an important detail. Is specifying C-xC-e (like I did above) clear? Jun 29, 2018 at 0:40
  • Yes, as the accepted answer indicates. What you see is not due to just evaluation.
    – Drew
    Jun 29, 2018 at 3:19

1 Answer 1


Evaluating(princ 1) with C-x C-e (eval-last-sexp) displays the following in the echo area

11 (#o1 #x1 ?\C-a)

because (princ 1) prints 1 and returns the integer 1. And (pp 1) is the same as (princ "1"), it prints 1 and returns the string "1".

Try executing them in M-x ielm, it produces cleaner output.

*** Welcome to IELM ***  Type (describe-mode) for help.
ELISP> (setq var 1)
1 (#b1, #o1, #x1, ?\C-a)
ELISP> (pp var)
ELISP> (princ var)
1 (#b1, #o1, #x1, ?\C-a)

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