enter image description here

This is part of my general el config. As shown in the image, when I divide long line (that has lamda, interative) into multiple lines :which-key ...... changes color.`

  1. Why is this happening?
  2. Am I doing something wrong?
  3. What is your preferred way to execute functions that has arguments such as (org-latex-export-to-pdf nil t) in general el config.
(use-package general
  (general-evil-setup t)

  (general-create-definer rune/leader-keys
    :keymaps '(normal insert visual emacs)
    :prefix "SPC"
    :global-prefix "C-SPC")


  "oxp"  '(org-latex-export-to-pdf                                      :which-key "(o)-(x)port-(p)df")
  "oxP"   '((lambda () (interactive) (org-latex-export-to-pdf nil t))   :which-key "(o)-(x)port-subtree-(P)df")
  "oxsp"  '((lambda () (interactive)
              (org-latex-export-to-pdf nil t))  :which-key "(o)-(x)port-subtree-(P)df")


Running bare emacs -Q shows same syntax color break as image below: enter image description here

Update (2) Apparently, if nothing before :which-key then syntax color is OK. I guess.

enter image description here

  • (I'm assuming the highlighting is from font-lock.) Track down the font-lock rules for the major mode. If you feel the rules aren't up to the job: M-x report-emacs-bug if you see the same thing without your init file, or report it to whatever library your init file is using that might be imposing inadequate font-lock rules.
    – Drew
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 18:14
  • Apparently, if newline is just before the :which-key. (i.e. only spaces before :which-key) then syntax coloring won't break.
    – Garid
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 18:52

1 Answer 1


If you move to the red text and type C-h. (display-local-help), or alternatively hover the mouse pointer over the text, you will see the following message:

Easy to misread; consider moving the element to the next line

(Which comes from the help-echo text property on that text.)

You can also see that information by asking Emacs to tell you about the text at point with C-uC-x= (what-cursor-position; see also describe-char). This will additionally show you that the faces you expected to see are still present -- the initial syntax highlighting recognised everything correctly, but those faces are masked by the warning.

Essentially Emacs is pointing out that you have a sequence of expressions which are formatted over multiple lines and you haven't broken a line in a structurally-significant place between forms. If the forms are all one line that's ok; but if you have a form which is formatted over multiple lines (the lambda in this case) and you then append an additional form on the same line as the final line of that multi-line form, it points it out as potentially being visually confusing (as, depending on circumstances, the trailing form may well look like a part of the multi-line form).

You can see the same with just the following:

   bar) baz)

The test which triggers this is named lisp--match-hidden-arg which gives you an idea of the thinking behind it.

  • Ah, I see thanks !
    – Garid
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 4:13

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