The context for this is that I was trying to write a function to help me write LaTeX, specifically I'd like to list all the future references, i.e. when you use a \ref{<something>} before \label{<something>}. I managed to write a regex that searches for this pattern, and my attempt is:

(defun get-forward-refs ()
  "List in an occur buffer all the future references of the current file."
   (rx (regex "\\ref{") (group (+ not-newline)) "}"
       (+ anything)
       (regex "\\label{") (backref 1) "}")

It works, but occur annoyingly displays ALL the match, which in this case could span several lines, so that I cannot quickly navigate the list (which was the purpose of this). The docstring of occur explicitly says "If a match spreads across multiple lines, all those lines are shown.". My question is: can I tweak this behavior, so that occur shows only the first line of the match? Thanks.

2 Answers 2

(add-hook 'occur-mode-hook
          (lambda ()
            (setq-local outline-regexp "^[[:blank:]]*[[:digit:]]+:"
                        outline-level (lambda ()

            ;; I believe you know how n/p works.
            (keymap-local-set "p"
                              (lambda (n)
                                (interactive "p")
                                (dotimes (_ n)
                                  (execute-kbd-macro (kbd "C-a"))
            (keymap-local-set "n"
                              (lambda (n)
                                (interactive "p")
                                (dotimes (_ n)
                                  (execute-kbd-macro (kbd "C-e"))

            ;; To be honest, I don't know why 
            ;; `make-thread` is necessary here.
            (make-thread (lambda ()
                           (outline-hide-sublevels 1)))))
  • Thanks! So, IIUC, occur by itself doesn't feature this, but you can force this behavior by using outline-mode? Also, like this I need two presses of n/p to navigate the results: is this a feature of outline-mode? Is there a way to have only one key press needed? Aug 19, 2023 at 11:08
  • 1
    @AlessandroBertulli: "is this a feature of outline-mode?" -- The first n moves the cursor to the end of the first line, and the second one moves over the .... The ... is a feature of outline so you should press n twice. ||| "Is there a way to have only one key press needed?" -- See my updated answer.
    – shynur
    Aug 19, 2023 at 14:19
  • 1
    @AlessandroBertulli: "occur by itself doesn't feature this" -- I tried my best to find whether occur provides such a feature, but found nothing.
    – shynur
    Aug 19, 2023 at 14:25
  • It works! Thanks you very much! Btw this is a bit over my Elisp knowledge, I'll have a look at outline-mode, local keymaps and threads Aug 20, 2023 at 15:45
  • @AlessandroBertulli: BTW, are you sure it is correct to use "\\ref{"? I think you want "\\\\ref{". You might want to take a look at the elisp manual ;-)
    – shynur
    Aug 20, 2023 at 16:37

Without really looking into your problem, maybe this helps.

This is your regexp in Lisp, after removing the rx noise ;-):


[^z-a] matches newline chars. I guess that corresponds to your use of anything. If you don't want to match stuff over multiple lines, then you likely don't really want to match newline chars.

  • Thanks, but I do need to match over newlines, because in my document the \ref and the \label can be several lines away Aug 18, 2023 at 16:26

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