I have a folder with some files written in markdown format that I would like to convert in html using markdown-mode.

I want a local value for the variable markdown-css-paths, in order to have a custom file as style sheet of the resulting html files. So, I create a .dir-locals.el file in the same folder of the markdown files and inside it I put this:

 (markdown-css-paths ("test.css"))))

I reload all the buffers, then invoke C-h v markdown-css-paths [RET] to make sure the variable is set correctly, which it is:

markdown-css-paths is a variable defined in ‘markdown-mode.el’.
Its value is (("test.css"))
Original value was nil
Local in buffer nuovo-corso.md; global value is nil

The problem is: when I try to convert the files in html (with the command C-c C-c m), no test.css style sheet is included.

The same thing happend with at least another variable, markdown-xhtml-header-content: it seems as if, during conversion, markdown-mode doesn't rely on the .dir-locals.el variable values.

When, instead, I set those variables in .emacs, everything works as expected.

What am I doing wrong? I'm using emacs 26.1 and markdown-mode 20180904.1601.

1 Answer 1


I think you are using the wrong syntax in your .dir-locals.el. You should use association lists, rather than regular lists. i.e., :

((markdown-mode . ((markdown-css-paths  . "test.css"))))

When I do this, the value of markdown-css-paths is "test.css", which is a character string. That's what you need. In your example, the value of markdown-css-paths is actually set to (("test.css")), which isn't a string, it's a list containing a list that contains a string.

This is explained in the manual at (emacs) Directory Variables. You can find that by:

  • C-h r, which opening the manual (aka 'r'ead manual)
  • m, which then prompts you for an item from the menu
  • Directory Variables, which you can then enter, with the help of tab completion.
  • Thanks for your reply! I've read the manual entry you suggested and modified .dir-locals.el to use association lists. Sadly, it still doesn't work: markdown-mode outputs html without the correct css file associated. I've also tried to change "test.css" to ("test.css") (markdown-css-paths is not a string but a list of string, this was another mistake I made) but without success.
    – cvd-00
    Sep 28, 2018 at 21:45
  • Hmm. I think the problem is that dir-local variables are only in effect for buffers visiting a file in the directory in question. markdown-mode creates the markdown buffers without actually creating a file in the directory first, so the directory local settings don't get applied. I'm not sure how to fix this.
    – Tyler
    Oct 1, 2018 at 15:54

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