I am using literate programming in org mode. It adds a new syntactic construction to the language: <<macro name>>. Unfortunately, it breaks all the colouring and tabulation after it. For example, this code in cperl-mode:

my $redis = $c->app->storage('redis');

<<get session id from cookie>>

# checking login, password
my $login = $c->param('login');

is rendered as this:

enter image description here

I tried to colourize the new keyword for cperl mode:

(font-lock-add-keywords 'cperl-mode '(("<<.+?>>" . 'font-lock-variable-name-face)))

But it only changes the colour of the first word: as you can see the word "get" is red.

How to set the specific colour for constructions like <<...>> and setup correct tabs after it?

  • The problem is that Org mode colorizes the code block according the declared language (perl in this case I presume), but the noweb syntax is not perl. It is a stretch already for Org mode to keep the rest of the file colorized according to Org syntax while allowing code blocks to be colorized according to a different mode; mixing yet another mode in there just complicates things further. In short, I don't know how to do it, and I think it is going to be complicated. If you don't get an answer here, you might want to ask on the Org ML.
    – NickD
    Commented May 10, 2023 at 15:29

1 Answer 1


The challenge here is that in cperl-mode some Perl syntax is treated beyond font-lock-mode. In Perl, "<<" starts a here-document, in your example taking "get" as the delimiter of the here-document. cperl-mode acts accordingly and fontifies "get" as the here-doc delimiter. It also takes the rest of your document as the content of the here-doc and fontifies it as string. This happens outside of font-lock. The rest of the <<...>> line is fontified according to your added rule.

You can, sort of, get what you want by fiddling with the syntax of your noweb blocks:

#+NAME: [say hello]
#+BEGIN_SRC perl
say "Hello, world";

#+BEGIN_SRC perl :noweb yes :results output
  use 5.024;

      <<[say hello]>>

  say "Hello again!";

In this example, I started the code block id with a square bracket. This works for org-mode. But square brackets are illegal as here-doc delimiters, and cperl-mode respects that. So, the last line of the source block will be fontified as Perl code.

The extra braces { } around the macro are needed if you want the indentation after your macro to be correct in cperl-mode: The noweb line is an "incomplete statement", so the next line would be interpreted as a continuation line.

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