There are tons of pretty graphical depictions in the emacs(or elisp) docs such as

  --------------       --------------       --------------
 | car   | cdr  |     | car   | cdr  |     | car   | cdr  |
 |   a   |   o------->|   b   |   o------->|   c   |  nil |
 |       |      |  -->|       |      |     |       |      |
  --------------  |    --------------       --------------
 x2:              |
  --------------  |
 | car   | cdr  | |
 |   z   |   o----
 |       |      |

Are they portrayed in labor manner, dash by dash

or with some helpful tools? I want one.

1 Answer 1


Included with emacs is a basic tool called picture-mode:

To edit a picture made out of text characters (for example, a picture of the division of a register into fields, as a comment in a program), use the command ‘M-x picture-mode’ to enter Picture mode.

In Picture mode, editing is based on the “quarter-plane” model of text, according to which the text characters lie studded on an area that stretches infinitely far to the right and downward. The concept of the end of a line does not exist in this model; the most you can say is where the last nonblank character on the line is found.

See the manual for more information.

The manual also mentions the existence of file artist.el that provides more sophisticated operations through artist-mode. Here's an extract of the docstring:

Artist lets you draw lines, squares, rectangles and poly-lines, ellipses and circles with your mouse and/or keyboard.


Drawing with the mouse:

mouse-2 shift mouse-2
Pops up a menu where you can select what to draw with mouse-1, and where you can do some settings (described below).

mouse-1 shift mouse-1
Draws lines, rectangles or poly-lines, erases, cuts, copies or pastes:


  • artist.el is mentioned in the manual. It's not documented in the manual, but that's a different issue.
    – rpluim
    Nov 5, 2019 at 8:32
  • @rpluim Indeed, corrected, thanx!
    – JeanPierre
    Nov 5, 2019 at 10:05

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