Prettify headings and plain lists in Org mode. This package is a direct descendant of ‘org-bullets’, with most of the code base completely rewritten. Currently, this package supports:
- Prettifying Org heading lines by:
- replacing trailing bullets by UTF-8 bulletsa)
- hiding leading starsb), customizing their look(new!) or removing them from vision(new!)
- applying a custom face to the header bulletd)
- applying a custom face to the leading bullets(new!)
- making inline tasks (see
org-inlinetask.el) more fancy by:
- using double-bullets for inline tasks
- applying a custom face to the marker star of inline tasks(new!)
- using a special bullet for the marker star(new!)
- introducing an independent face for marker stars(new!)
- (optional) using special bullets for
- Prettifying Org plain list bullets(new!) by:
- replacing each bullet type (
-) with UTF-8 bulletsc)
- applying a custom face to item bullets
- replacing each bullet type (
- Gracefully degrading features when viewed from terminal
a) These features are mostly the same as in
b) Plain hiding is now left to Org mode and the associated
org-hide-leading-stars as well as
org-hide, as suggested
org-superstar-mode tries to prettify in a context-sensitive
fashion: It strives to only recognize item bullets which are really
meant to be item bullets. Your
SRC blocks are safe!
d) Instead of providing the symbol of an existing face in a variable to replace Org’s usual title face(s) for the UTF-8 character, superstar merges a custom face with the face that would have been used, allowing the user to inherit the level-dependent default look.
There are currently no new features planned. For the time being only one historically planned feature remains listed, which is supposed to develop into a sister project. See below.
hiding leading commas of quoted stars
unhiding commas whilst editing
I have realized that this feature exceeds the scope of the
package, being too interactive. This would require a lot of
font-lock related boilerplate which I am currently in the
process of dedicating its own package to.
- The package in question has matured, but suffers from intricate timing errors which will require looking into. Especially since they are so far impossible to test reliably due to their nature.
You can find a small demo reel with a variety of configurations here.
The package is available on MELPA!
If you prefer a manual installation, just plug
your load path and add the following to your
(require 'org-superstar) (add-hook 'org-mode-hook (lambda () (org-superstar-mode 1)))
A variety of customization features has been added to allow further tweaking. Suggestions are always welcome!
NOTE: Many of the variables listed below require you to restart
org-superstar-mode to take effect. See the corresponding variable’s
“Can you make it more like
Naturally! In fact, I made the answer to this its own function:
This function configures
superstar-mode to be as similar to
org-bullets as possible. Since this function automatically sets
various custom variables, it should only be called once per
session, before any other (manual) customization of this package.
org-superstar-configure-like-org-bullets is only meant as a small
convenience for people who just want minor departures from
org-bullets-mode. For a more fine-grained customization, it’s
better to just set the variables you want.
“Where do I find UTF8-bullets to use?”
While it strongly depends on the font(s) you are using which characters are going to be supported, here are some nifty Unicode blocks to consider. I sorted them by the respective Unicode plane.
- Basic Multilingual Plane (U+0000-U+FFFF)
- As the name suggests,
the Unicode plane containing most languages, and hence the
most commonly encoded. I recommend the following blocks:
- General Punctuation (U+2000-U+206F)
- Bullets, leaders, asterisms.
- Dingbats (U+2700-U+27BF)
- Common typesetting ornaments.
- Geometric Shapes (U+25A0-U+25FF)
- Circles, shapes within shapes, etc.
- Miscellaneous Symbols (U+2600–U+26FF)
- Smileys and card suits.
- Miscellaneous Symbols and Arrows (U+2B00-U+2BFF)
- Further stars and arrowheads, polygons, etc.
- Supplementary Multilingual Plane (U+10000-U+1FFFF)
- This one contains (among other things) Emoji and plenty of symbols.
Custom UTF8-bullets for heading lines
Here’s how you change which bullets are used for which level.
Those of you familiar with
org-bullets will recognize this list:
It’s a list of single-character strings where the Nth entry is
used to determine the bullet used for heading level N. By
default, this list is cycled through for N greater than the length
of the list. Strings are not the only valid way to provide
headline bullets, however. Since version 1.3.0, this variable
also recognizes characters as well as specific lists, with
characters being the new default way of providing bullets. Lists
on the other hand provide the user with the means to access
advanced composition features and fallback options for terminal
This variable gives you more control over how
headline bullets. The default,
t, cycles through the list as
explained above. Other values are:
- Go through the list, then repeat the last entry indefinitely.
- any integer k
- Cycle through the first k elements of the list.
Maybe you actually like that Org’s heading lines are connected to
the left margin, but you find a line of stars too visually busy?
org-superstar-leading-bullet. Provide a character of your
choice to be displayed instead. Strings are superimposed
according to the rules of
with a subtle leader as the default.
Note for terminal users: You can apply a simplified composition to
leading stars for terminal sessions. See
org-superstar-leading-fallback for details.
This bullet replaces the red star inline tasks use when
org-inlinetask-show-first-star is non-nil. Strings are
superimposed according to the rules of
render as expected.
Note for terminal users: You can apply a simplified composition
for terminal sessions. See
org-superstar-first-inlinetask-fallback for details.
Hide leading stars
org-mode already takes care of hiding leading stars by
providing the dedicated variable
org-hide-leading-stars and its
org-hide, there is no extra option for hiding
leading stars like that. Instead,
implicitly disables further fontification.
While there is no explicit feature for hiding leading stars, you
can also use
org-superstar-leading-bullet to hide leading stars
org-hide: Simply choose a space character as your
;; This is usually the default, but keep in mind it must be nil (setq org-hide-leading-stars nil) ;; This line is necessary. (setq org-superstar-leading-bullet ?\s) ;; If you use Org Indent you also need to add this, otherwise the ;; above has no effect while Indent is enabled. (setq org-indent-mode-turns-on-hiding-stars nil)
If you want to get rid of the indentation caused by leading stars
You can substitute standard headline bullets with specialized ones
fitting the current
TODO keyword! To enable this feature, set
t. To set which
you want to have displayed differently, see
If you prefer a more minimal look for
TODO items, try setting
org-superstar-special-todo-items to the symbol
hide. This causes
the heading bullet to disappear entirely for
Custom UTF8-Bullets for plain lists
Why stop at heading lines? Customize the look of your list bullets to make plain lists a little less so.
Since the concept of “levels” does not really apply to lists, this association list simply assigns a UTF-8 character to each of the three possible bullet characters for plain Org lists.
Exactly as it says on the tin. Set this variable to
nil to stop
org-superstar-mode from prettifying lists.
Fast Plain List Items
The default syntax-checking done to ensure only actual plain list
items are prettified is rather expensive, but usually not
expensive enough to cause significant slowdown. This can change
when dealing with Org files containing hundreds or even thousands
of plain list items. The command
org-superstar-toggle-lightweight-lists allows the user to disable
syntax checking for plain lists both interactively and in code.
For example, if you experience issues for files with more than 100
list items, you could simply add the following to
instead of a direct call to
(defun my-auto-lightweight-mode () "Start Org Superstar differently depending on the number of lists items." (let ((list-items (count-matches "^[ \t]*?\\([+-]\\|[ \t]\\*\\)" (point-min) (point-max)))) (unless (< list-items 100) (org-superstar-toggle-lightweight-lists))) (org-superstar)) (add-hook 'org-mode-hook #'my-auto-lightweight-mode)
These faces allow you to further manipulate the look and feel of prettified bullets.
A face containing essentially the difference between the default
heading face for the given level (like
org-level-1) and the
bullet. This face is completely unspecified by default. Any
property set will override the corresponding face property of
A face used to display leading stars if
org-superstar-prettify-leading-stars is enabled.
A face used to display prettified plain list bullets if
org-superstar-prettify-item-bullets is enabled.
A face used for the marker star of inline tasks (see the package
org-inlinetask, in particular
instead of the default
org-warning, which it inherits from by
FAQ / Troubleshooting
“Question marks everywhere! Help!”
Did you enable this mode for example in a terminal session and have
been greeted by wonky replacement characters like ‘�’ or plain
question marks in headlines or items? Try turning
org-superstar-mode off to see what its supposed to be if it is too
visually broken to recognize. The fix depends on whether you are
experiencing this on a graphical or terminal display.
Question mark salad on terminal
This usually happens because the font of your terminal does not have a glyph for a bullet character you are using. There are two plausible fixes:
- Change your terminal font: Emacs has no control over the font of your terminal display. As a consequence, if you want to keep these particular bullets, your best bet is to change the font. For example, the default settings should work out of the box for the excellent DejaVu Sans Mono.
- Utilize terminal fallback options: Org Superstar is written
with terminal users in mind. Hence you can roll an entirely
different set of bullets for terminal sessions without much
effort. Leading stars have
org-superstar-leading-fallback. Headline bullets themselves can be declared independently for graphical and terminal displays in
org-superstar-headline-bullets-list. For example, replacing an entry
?◉with the entry
("◉" ?*)will make the headline bullet that would normally display as ‘◉’ a plain asterisk on terminal displays.
- Replace the bullet character altogether: A valid option, but likely not the most desirable. Check out the documentation for more info on how to customize this package.
Borked even in graphical sessions
In this case it is all up to your Emacs configuration. The problem remains the fonts available, this time to Emacs. You can either change your Emacs font or specify specific fonts for specific Unicode character ranges, which is part of Emacs’ intricate face system.
“This mode causes significant slowdown!”
I have looked into the matter in the past, and from what I
understand the usual cause of this is relates to a deeper rooted
issue involving fonts and font-lock reliant packages. I recommend
adding the following to your
(setq inhibit-compacting-font-caches t)
or any more fancy variation thereof. This variable also holds further information regarding what I believe is the cause of the problem. If this should not fix the problem, please consider opening an issue or sending me a mail!
“I experience lag when working with long plain lists!”
By default, Org Superstar does expensive syntax checking to ensure
plain lists are actual plain lists. This is usually not an issue
for small files. However, this may pose a problem when your file
contains hundreds or thousands of items! You can deal with this
interactively using the command
org-superstar-toggle-lightweight-lists. See also the subsection
”Fast Plain List Items” above.
“I get an error when trying to use it.”
This of course should not happen. If your problem is not listed below, please file a bug report!
This is one of the functions my package relies on missing in older
versions of Org. The following hack should circumvent the issue,
at the cost of the package treating some comments in code blocks
as lists. Just put it in your
.emacs before loading up the
package. If I messed up and this does not fix the problem, be
sure to open an Issue!
(setq-default org-superstar-lightweight-lists t) (defun org-element-lineage (x) "Mock function for future Org feature." nil)
“What are these weird points in front of heading bullets?”
While Org Bullet mode ships only with a feature to hide leading
stars, Org Superstar allows you to customize leading stars to still
provide some visual guidance without causing too much visual noise.
For more information on this topic, see the Section Customization
above, in particular the subsections
and Hide leading stars.
1.5.0 has been released, adding support for hiding TODO item bullets as well as specifying a default bullet. As for the plans for 2.0.0: after lots of deliberation I have come to the conclusion that there is no currently scheduled change that would justify a major version number change.
Since I have been asked whether there is a way to extend Superstar to other minor modes. The bad news is: no, not feasibly. The good news is: I have created a comparably simple template for this exact purpose for other people to bring a Superstar-like mode to your favorite Outline-type of mode: Superstar Kit!
Also: Earlier this month, Superstar has reached over 65536 (216) downloads! Again, thank you!
Good news! The project is reaching an acceptable first draft state. This means I am now preparing getting this package properly wrapped up and published on MELPA, with a side goal of trying to also be available on ELPA. My conservative estimate for at least being available on MELPA is roughly by the end of this month.
Everything went better than expected! The tests seem to cover most use cases now, and it seems I have added proper terminal support.
I set up a pull request, we will see how this goes.
Version 0.3.0 is out and tagged for your convenience. I am now content enough with the package to “freeze” elements of the API for good and move to version 1.0.0 once the pull request is closed. I will keep the “under construction” tags around for the time being, however.
Version 0.4.0 has been released! You can now associate
keywords with special headline bullets.
Version 0.5.0 now supports a new kind of way to hide leading
bullets: Instead of using
org-superstar-remove-leading-stars allows you hide them akin to
emphasis markers (see
Version 1.0.0 has been released! With this I consider the package as ready for use as it gets. The change primarily means that:
- I will try my best not to break backwards compatibility.
- If I conclude that I have to, I will not do it silently. Instead, you can rely on appropriate warnings.
- Even then, a backwards incompatible change will result it a major version number change.
The package is now available on MELPA! My sincerest thanks to all the people on GitHub and the Org mailing list that helped me along! I would not have managed without you! :)
A minor status update. We cracked the 500 downloads mark on MELPA! Unbelievable! Thank you all for your support! Should we reach the 1-2000 downloads mark by the end of the year, I will consider contacting major Emacs releases shipping with org-bullets, such as Spacemacs or Doom.
In other news, version 1.1.0 is now available, providing a few minor fixes, as well as a new feature to disable expensive syntax checks for plain list items. See the FAQ for more info.
Version 1.2.0 is now available. This version adds support for
using advanced features of
compose-region for TODO item bullets.
Also, the package’s downloads doubled in less than two weeks, meaning Org Superstar now has over 1000 downloads on MELPA! I have given the whole situation some more thought, and decided that I will contact the Spacemacs team should we reach 2000 downloads this year, which I would consider enough proof of the package’s popularity.
Version 1.3.0 is here! This version adds support for using
advanced features of
compose-region for headline bullets, thus
continuing efforts to make the package more visually coherent for
general setups while remaining terminal friendly.
In other news, Org Superstar reached over 16000 downloads on MELPA!
This is absolutely insane, and already surpasses my hopes for this
year by more than a factor of 8! I am speechless. And, as
I will contact the Spacemacs team sometimes this year.
Turns out, Org Superstar replaced Org Bullets as of the 7th of June
develop branch! And it also ships with Doom Emacs!
With that, I have essentially reached every goal I had for this
package. However, I will naturally continue maintenance and remain
open towards feature suggestions.
org-superstar has reached over 32768 (215) downloads this week! This is absolutely amazing. If there is any room for improvement, I’m very open to suggestions from the community!
We have reached version 1.4.0, which concludes the series of feature updates I have planned out. In other words, this package has reached a point of maturity where I would consider it complete. This does not mean that no new features will be added/accepted, but it does mean that I will from now on rely on feature suggestions from the community, and focus on maintenance rather than innovation. The next scheduled update (2.0.0) will likely involve a subtle revamp of the default values. I will keep you posted.