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Emacs support for the Clojure language

Clojure Mode

Provides Emacs font-lock, indentation, and navigation for the Clojure programming language.

A more thorough walkthrough is available at


Available on both Marmalade and MELPA repos.

Marmalade is recommended as it has the latest stable version, but MELPA has a development snapshot for users who don't mind breakage but don't want to run from a git checkout.

If you're not already using Marmalade, add this to your ~/.emacs.d/init.el and load it with M-x eval-buffer.

(require 'package)
(add-to-list 'package-archives
             '("marmalade" . ""))

If you're feeling adventurous and you'd like to use MELPA add this bit of code instead:

(require 'package)
(add-to-list 'package-archives
             '("melpa" . "") t)

And then you can install:

M-x package-refresh-contents

M-x package-install [RET] clojure-mode [RET]

or if you'd rather keep it in your dotfiles:

(unless (package-installed-p 'clojure-mode)
  (package-install 'clojure-mode))

On Emacs 23 you will need to get package.el yourself or install manually by placing clojure-mode.el on your load-path and requireing it.

Clojure Test Mode

This source repository also includes clojure-test-mode.el, which provides support for running Clojure tests (using the clojure.test framework) via CIDER and seeing feedback in the test buffer about which tests failed or errored. The installation instructions above should work for clojure-test-mode as well.

Once you have a repl session active, you can run the tests in the current buffer with C-c C-,. Failing tests and errors will be highlighted using overlays. To clear the overlays, use C-c k.


Using clojure-mode with Paredit is highly recommended. It helps ensure the structure of your forms is not compromised and offers a number of operations that work on code structure at a higher level than just characters and words.

It is also available using package.el from the above archives.

Use Paredit as you normally would any other minor mode; for instance:

;; (require 'paredit) if you didn't install it via package.el
(add-hook 'clojure-mode-hook 'paredit-mode)

See the cheat sheet for Paredit usage hints.

REPL Interaction

A number of options exist for connecting to a running Clojure process and evaluating code interactively.

Basic REPL

Use M-x run-lisp to open a simple REPL subprocess using Leiningen. Once that has opened, you can use C-c C-r to evaluate the region or C-c C-l to load the whole file.

If you don't use Leiningen, you can set inferior-lisp-program to a different REPL command.


You can also use Leiningen to start an enhanced REPL via CIDER.


Another option is Ritz, which is a bit more complicated but offers advanced debugging functionality using SLIME.

Swank Clojure

SLIME is available via swank-clojure in clojure-mode 1.x. SLIME support was removed in version 2.x in favor of CIDER.

Indentation options

Characterizing the default indentation rules of clojure-mode is difficult to do in summary; this is one attempt:

  1. Bodies of parenthesized forms are indented such that arguments are aligned to the start column of the first argument, except for a class of forms identified by the symbol in function position, the bodies of which are indented two spaces, regardless of the position of their first argument (this is called "defun" indentation, for historical reasons):
    1. Known special forms (e.g. case, try, etc)
    2. Nearly all "core" macros that ship as part of Clojure itself
    3. Userland macros (and any other form?) that are locally registered via put-clojure-indent, define-clojure-indent (helpers for adding mappings to clojure-indent-function).
  2. The bodies of certain more complicated macros and special forms (e.g. letfn, deftype, extend-protocol, etc) are indented using a contextual backtracking indentation method, controlled by clojure-backtracking-indent.
  3. The bodies of other forms (e.g. vector, map, and set literals) are indented such that each new line within the form is set just inside of the opening delimiter of the form.

Please see the docstrings of the elisp functions/vars noted above for information about customizing this indentation behaviour.


Copyright © 2007-2013 Jeffrey Chu, Lennart Staflin, Phil Hagelberg, and contributors.

Distributed under the GNU General Public License; type C-h C-c to view it.

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