I recently upgraded to emacs 28, and did some fiddling with my configuration (because configuring emacs is, after all, a lifestyle...) and now I have fringe indicators and I don't know what they mean.

In my current theme (modus vivendi, FWIW), I'm seeing...white dots with a blue background. Arrows. Red dots.

What can I do to figure out what those mean? For example, the white dot. Who put that there? What is it supposed to tell me?

  • In the buffer that contains the fringe indicators at issue, type C-h v (aka M-x describe-variable) and then fringe-indicator-alist. This variable can be customized by the user to whatever suits his/her needs. It does not appear that the question contains sufficient information to write up an answer for your particular setup, but evaluating the variable should answer your own question as to fringe indicators. What is displayed within the window-body, which is not the fringe, is different. The question appears to confuse the window-body of the buffer with the fringe ...?
    – lawlist
    Jun 28, 2022 at 14:26
  • @lawlist: Please consider posting (part of) your comment as an answer. Thx.
    – Drew
    Jun 28, 2022 at 15:03
  • 1
    Even after looking at fringe-indicator-alist, I still didn't know what was going on with some fringe characters (little circles) in Org Mode. It turned out that bookmarks were to blame. See my question here.
    – jrasband
    Jun 28, 2022 at 16:47

1 Answer 1


This answer relates to the portion of the question dealing with fringe indicators. When the fringe(s) are visible, they appear to the immediate left/right of the window body. The manual contains a diagram explaining the terminology:


The fringe-indicator-alist is a buffer-local variable which may be customized to include various fringe indicators. To inspect the value of this variable, visit the buffer at issue and type C-h v aka M-x describe-variable. The default value in Emacs 29 is as follows:

((truncation left-arrow right-arrow)
 (continuation left-curly-arrow right-curly-arrow)
 (overlay-arrow . right-triangle)
 (up . up-arrow)
 (down . down-arrow)
 (top top-left-angle top-right-angle)
 (bottom bottom-left-angle bottom-right-angle top-right-angle top-left-angle)
 (top-bottom left-bracket right-bracket top-right-angle top-left-angle)
 (empty-line . empty-line)
 (unknown . question-mark))
  • 1
    Thanks for the links, and the info about fringe-indicator-alist. But that just moves the goalposts, so to speak: now, the question is: who is setting those indicators? For example, if I see the overlay arrow, who set that, and why? @jmrasband's question is closer, since it addresses fringe bitmaps but I still wish for a way to ask "who set this indicator, and what is it supposed to tell me?"
    – Dan Drake
    Jun 29, 2022 at 12:47
  • 2
    Apparently your issue was specific to using the bookmark library emacs.stackexchange.com/q/72156/2287 , so the answer to your question as to who set that indicator, "you" set that indicator when you used the org-capture library which uses the bookmark library. The bookmark library does not rely upon using the fringe-indicator-alist. Instead, the bookmark library uses overlays to place fringe bitmaps. The question in this particular thread was general, so the answer here is general.
    – lawlist
    Jun 29, 2022 at 13:31

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