If I'm editing certain filetypes then sometimes when I hit return at the end of a line the cursor will move to the next line and the previous line will suddenly be heavily indented.

This behavior seems to happen in a few different filetypes under various conditions but I can reliably reproduce this in an .el file on a comment line.

For example, with the cursor indicated by _, if I'm on a line that reads

; word_

and then I press return I get the following.

                            ; word

What's going on? I commented out all tabbing related settings from my configuration files and I still get this behavior.

  • 3
    a single semicolon conventionally indicates a margin comment or an annotation. For full line comments a double-semicolon is used instead.
    – user2005
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 10:16

1 Answer 1


This is caused by electric-indent-mode. If you disable it, the behavior you describe will go away.

A similar question has been asked on here before. The accepted answer describes how to disable electric indentation for specific characters. Adapting the code to your specific situation, we get:

(defun electric-indent-mode-configure ()
  "Delete newline (?\n) from `electric-indent-chars'."
  (setq electric-indent-chars (delq 10 electric-indent-chars)))

(add-hook 'emacs-lisp-mode-hook #'electric-indent-mode-configure)

With this in place, you can have electric-indent-mode turned on without getting the behavior you describe.

  • Is there a way to get electric indentation only for a new line and only immediately after hitting return? Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 11:49
  • @Praxeolitic I'm not sure what you mean, can you give a concrete example of the behavior you are looking for?
    – itsjeyd
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 11:54
  • Found it! I was looking for the behavior of electric-indent-just-newline. emacs.stackexchange.com/a/3217/2139 Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 11:56

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