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Your Test 1 code has no iteration. It does one search and then terminates. Here is a modification with an iteration: (defun test () (interactive) (save-excursion (goto-char (point-min)) (while (re-search-forward (rx (group (or "\\GL" "\\SL" "\\SO"))) nil t nil) (setq gstring (match-string 1)) ;; this is group with backslash (setq ...

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