I’ve installed psgml 1.4.0-9 and psgml-html-mode for DTD-aware editing of HTML.* But the built-in sgml-mode/html-mode seems to be causing some problems: some tags are highlighted in font-lock-function-name-face (as the built-in sgml-mode does), some in font-lock-type-face (as PSGML does), and they get recoloured depending on what I do (scrolling generally causes font-lock-type-face to take over, but the initial screen full of code is in font-lock-function-name-face). Most annoyingly, aiui PSGML is supposed to offer SGML-correct indenting taking account of omitted close tags, but afaict sgml-mode is taking control of indentation, meaning when I indent-region etc, what happens is not DTD-aware. I also have two SGML entries in my menu bar: the first (the one on the left) is from PSGML, the second from sgml-mode.

Given that sgml-mode.elc and sgml-mode.el.gz are inside my system Emacs installation (which I am reluctant to go hacking around inside by deleting or changing files), how can I completely disable all their behaviour and everything that they’re loading?

* Yes, I’m aware that HTML is not technically an SGML application any more, but the syntax is close enough, and no other HTML editing mode I’m aware of (including html-mode, html-helper-mode, and the HTML server for lsp-mode) is properly aware of implicit close tags in HTML — they think <p>hello <p>world creates two nested p elements, rather than two consecutive ones. PSGML gets it right.

Edit: My setup for PSGML etc, if it helps, is here. Everything else needed should also be in the same repo.

  • Your links claim that psgml provides a major mode, so unless that mode derives from sgml-mode, the latter won't be having any unintended effects. If it does derive, then the effects are intentional.
    – phils
    Mar 6, 2021 at 12:27
  • Oh, crazy... psgml.el defines a sgml-mode -- indeed everything is in the sgml- name space, not a psgml- name space. So I think you're just being misled by that.
    – phils
    Mar 6, 2021 at 12:30
  • No, describe-function sgml-indent-line explicitly tells me that it’s picking up the version in sgml-mode.el in my Emacs system installation, and not the version defined in psgml-edit.el. Mar 6, 2021 at 12:36
  • As you are using (require 'psgml) the standard sgml-mode won't be getting a look in at all, unless something calls html-mode (which would autoload sgml-mode.el, clobbering sgml-mode in the process), or sgml-mode is otherwise directly loaded.
    – phils
    Mar 6, 2021 at 12:37
  • I can't advise the best thing to do, because I have no idea whether psgml's sgml-mode is compatible with the standard mode. It's very unusual to see a library stepping on top of another's name like this. Perhaps they were under development at the same time, though.
    – phils
    Mar 6, 2021 at 12:41

1 Answer 1


nxml-mode, which implicitly loads the built-in sgml-mode for a small number of things, is loaded before PSGML. This means a number of names get clobbered before PSGML loads and it can’t properly claim them.

Loading PSGML before nxml-mode fixes the problem since Emacs will think sgml-mode is already there when nxml-mode loads, but nxml-mode will no longer work since the definitions it needs from the built-in sgml-mode are no longer there.

Solution: Load sgml-mode-fix, which defines the features and variables from sgml-mode which nxml-mode depends on, but no others. Since none of these names clash with PSGML, there should be no problem with using PSGML for HTML/other non-XML SGML files and nXML for XML files.

(require 'sgml-mode-fix)
(require 'nxml-mode)
;; configure nxml-mode here …

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