I provide web-mode-column-show in web-mode.el to display a column that "connects" the start tag and the end tag.

This column may cross empty lines. In that case I use (move-to-column COL t) (see the t arg) to put the overlay at the right column. The problem is that, doing so, I modify the buffer content (I add spaces).

Is there a way to display an overlay at a specific line/column where no "content" exists ?

  • You want to look at vline.el and fill-column-indicator.el. It is called an after-string overlay, and it is combined with a filler (spacer). fill-column-indicator is a better example (in my opinion): github.com/alpaker/Fill-Column-Indicator There is also an alignment with a particular column in the fill-column-indicator source code. I based my minor mode on that concept, which is a vertical line that tracks the cursor position.
    – lawlist
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 7:23
  • Here is a link to a quick simple example that does what you want -- it was written at the beginning of my quest: stackoverflow.com/q/23707953/2112489
    – lawlist
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 7:34

1 Answer 1


Here is a reprint of the example referred to in the comment above:

  (let ((eol-floating-column (+ (current-column) 10)))
    (overlay-put (make-overlay (point) (point))
                  (propertize (char-to-string ?\uE001)
                              `((space :align-to ,eol-floating-column)
                                (space :width 0)))
                  (propertize (char-to-string ?\u00B6)
                              'face '(:background "gray50" :foreground "black")
                              'cursor t) ))))
  • I've implemented my need this way: when the indicator is before eol I use a standard overlay and when the indicator should go beyond eol I put the overlay at the end of the line and attach the 'after-string property
    – fxbois
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 8:20
  • You are correct. There is even a before-string for something to the left of the margin, like linum-mode uses. I'm glad it worked out for your needs.
    – lawlist
    Commented Jan 16, 2015 at 8:24

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