I would like to start writing a few simple Domain Specific Languages in Common Lisp and would like the names of macros I define to be highlighted as if they were Common Lisp functions or macros in Emacs.

Below is a simple example which is not precisely the code I am hoping to write but it shows the kind of functionality I desire.

(defmacro class* (class-name superclasses slots)
  (let ((slot-declarations
     (loop for slot in slots collecting
          (list slot :accessor slot :initform nil))))
    `(defclass ,class-name ,superclasses ,slot-declarations)))

(class* graph () (nodes edges))

What I would like is for class* in the second form to show up in magenta (given the default colours in my Emacs installation) and graph should be highlighted in blue.

I have seen some examples of how to adjust syntax highlighting for LaTeX, but I could not extend those to work for me in Common Lisp.

1 Answer 1


I have been able to solve my issue above by looking through the Emacs source code, specifically font-lock.el. It is recommended that one use regex-opt to generate a suitable regular expression to be added to the font lock keywords for the mode.

In my case (regex-opt '("class*")) generates "\\(?:class\\*\\)".

This is then added (in my case) to lisp-mode as below.

(font-lock-add-keywords 'lisp-mode '("\\(?:class\\*\\)"))

However, this has revealed to me a deeper issue - I would actually like to have the class* in the macro definition highlit in blue since it is the name being declared/defined. Also, it would be nice if the word graph was in blue as well, but later on if used to create graph objects it would be in maroon.

I will work on this add anything I find later to this post in case it is of interest. Otherwise if it is felt this issue should be closed, please do so.

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