When I open Java files originally created and edited in Emacs, the indentation shows up correctly, as in the image below:

Java file made in emacs

However, when I open the same file in Sublime Text, or any other editor besides Emacs, the indentation is messed up, and I can see that it's because Emacs inconsistently mixes spaces and tabs:

The same file opened in sublime text

Has anyone else encountered this?

  • That's happening because your Emacs is using a tab width of 8, while sublime is using a tab width of 4. That's easy to fix, but if it's an option at all I would just follow Drew's answer and stop using tabs.
    – Malabarba
    Mar 7, 2015 at 7:44

1 Answer 1


Set option indent-tabs-mode to nil:

Put this in your init file, to make Emacs always indent using SPC characters, never TAB characters.

(setq-default indent-tabs-mode nil)
  • Also for reference: the manual page on tabs vs spaces, which discusses precisely this issue.
    – Dan
    Mar 7, 2015 at 4:50

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