For instance, why does (insert #("abc" 0 3 (face (:foreground "red")))) not insert red text?

  • I'll let another forum participant explain the "why" ... But, how about using?: (insert (propertize "abc" 'face '(:foreground "red"))) See also add-text-properties and put-text-property as alternative methods to colorize text ...; and, this can also be done with overlays if so desired ...
    – lawlist
    Mar 18, 2020 at 19:05

1 Answer 1


You probably try that in the *scratch* buffer or any other buffer with active font-lock-mode.

In such a buffer the faces are immediately adapted to the rules prescribed by the variable font-lock-keywords.

Use the property font-lock-face instead of face in those buffers.

The modified version of your example would be:

(insert #("abc" 0 3 (font-lock-face (:foreground "red"))))

font-lock-face properties are directly translated into face properties by font-lock-mode. No fontification rules are applied to those stretches of text.

Side-note: lisp-interaction-mode is derived from emacs-lisp-mode that activates font-lock-mode.

  • 1
    It's really easy to forget this.
    – Drew
    Mar 18, 2020 at 23:11
  • Indeed, I tried it in the *scratch* buffer. Mar 21, 2020 at 22:05

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