I know how to display line numbers (and columns) in the mode-line, but I'd like emacs to display the line numbers for all the lines on the left-hand side. I've seen this done in vim and other text editors. How do I do this for emacs?

3 Answers 3


M-x linum-mode (or global-linum-mode), and put (global-linum-mode t) in your ~/.emacs (or ~/.emacs.d/init.el) to enable it at startup.

  • Is there a way to do this with column numbers?
    – Topo
    Nov 24, 2012 at 20:09
  • For any late readers: M-x column-number-mode is one way to display the current column your pointer is at.
    – monotux
    Mar 13, 2014 at 11:42
  • There is neither an init.el file in my .emacs.d directory nor a .emacs file in my ~. Where can I find them? Jul 4, 2016 at 18:48
  • 2
    You can create one if you don't already have a config. Sep 10, 2016 at 18:56
  • This worked for me. Heads up for Windows users - this file is located in C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming directory, and is called ".emacs". Just add (global-linum-mode t) at the end of the file. Oct 1, 2017 at 16:25

This page:

lists a few different options.

monotux's answer is currently the first option listed there. An alternative (also listed) is NLinum:

You should be able to install from ELPA:

M-x package-install RET nlinum RET

and then use it e.g. like this:

(use-package nlinum
  • 10
    Just a link is not ideal for the SX format. Nov 15, 2012 at 10:03
  • @Prof.Falken Especially when the link leads to a 404 Not Found. Please fix your answer.
    – byxor
    Jun 13, 2017 at 12:58
  • 1
    Thanks both - agreed, though monotux's answer already has all the needed information. I edited to correct the link and provide an alternative one. Jun 14, 2017 at 3:37
  • linum-mode → old, hack, slow. Emacs 23 (released in 2009).
  • global-display-line-numbers-mode → Emacs 26 (beta as of 2018-03-30)

Put this in your emacs init file:

(when (version<= "26.0.50" emacs-version )


  • This worked for me Aug 20, 2018 at 18:22
  • Adding (global-display-line-numbers-mode) to .emacs file works in Emacs 26!
    – joseluisq
    Apr 1, 2019 at 21:07

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