I am a newbie at emacs lisp and was looking for some assistance.

I am trying to use a capture template from a file. Here is relevant code:

(setq base-capture-template (concat (file-name-as-directory capture-template-directory) "base_tpl.txt"))
(setq org-capture-templates
  (quote (("w" "work" entry (file+headline org-tasks-file "WORK") (file base-capture-template) :kill-buffer t)))

When I try the template, I get an error: Wrong type argument: stringp, base-capture-template.

Is there a way to convert the symbol base-capture-template such that it corresponds to the expected type?



  • As you have written it, there is a missing closing paren for the second setq: either add it or use the '(...) shorthand instead of (quote (...)). Some other relevant code is missing: what is capture-template-directory? What is org-tasks-file?
    – NickD
    Nov 12, 2018 at 18:55
  • Also, I'm not sure but I don't think you can have two different target specifications for the same entry: either file+headline or file but not both.
    – NickD
    Nov 13, 2018 at 0:23

1 Answer 1


Welcome to SX (emacs).

Try this:

(setq org-capture-templates
  `(("w" "work" entry (file+headline org-tasks-file "WORK") 
    (file ,base-capture-template) :kill-buffer t)))

Explanation: the back-quote allows you to mostly quote but evaluate the bits that have a comma in front.

  • Excellent! Thank you for the help, Fran. I would upvote your response, but I don't have the reputation.
    – user86993
    Nov 13, 2018 at 13:33
  • I think you can accept the answer though! (And glad this helped.) Nov 14, 2018 at 0:06

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