In emacs, are there any packages available for displaying vertical lines at every tab stop, or at pre-defined column positions. If possible, I'd like to have multiple thin vertical lines that are for display only without having any effect on the code being written in the buffer. I'd like something similar to what Sublime Text 2 offers out of the box.

Feature Request #17684 (crosshairs) [ https://debbugs.gnu.org/cgi/bugreport.cgi?bug=17684 ] and Feature Request 22873 (multiple fake cursors) [ https://debbugs.gnu.org/cgi/bugreport.cgi?bug=22873 ] are a work in progress. Although it is unknown whether these features will ever be incorporated into the official Emacs, there is a working draft proof concept that has been posted to both of the above-mentioned feature requests. The features require modifications to both the C and Lisp internals prior to building a GUI version of Emacs from the master branch -- X11, Windows or NS.

  • What OS? What editor/IDE? You really need to clarify your question.
    – Mxx
    Dec 20, 2013 at 7:17
  • @Mxx Emacs Lisp is the code (tag elisp), and the editor is Emacs (tag emacs). The elisp code (within Emacs) will work on a variety of operating systems, including Windows, Linux flavors, and OSX.
    – lawlist
    Dec 20, 2013 at 15:33
  • Just tangential to your question: How do you make emacs display the column and the row with the red markers ???
    – elviejo79
    Sep 17, 2018 at 14:51
  • 1
    @elviejo79 -- At the time I wrote and/or revised my answer, I was most likely using a custom version of crosshairs that has been in the works for a few years now. Feature requests #17684 (crosshairs) and #22873 (multiple fake cursors) on the Emacs bug tracker have working drafts, and I continue to make improvements as time goes on. The next draft patch is probably a few weeks away still. If you are interested in tinkering with experimental features, give it a whirl. If not, then your only viable options are the ones mentioned by Drew Adams in the accepted answer.
    – lawlist
    Sep 18, 2018 at 4:29

1 Answer 1


There are several approaches for this. They are referenced from this EmacsWiki page. In particular, have a look at column-marker.el, col-highlight.el, and vline.el.


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