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Convert elisp file header comments to markdown text, suitable for a github file
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Convert emacs lisp documentation to markdown all day every day

This tool will let you easily convert elisp file headers to markdown text so long as the file comments and documentation follow standard conventions (like this file). This is because when you're writing an elisp module, the module itself should be the canonical source of documentation. But it's not very user-friendly or good marketing for your project to have an empty that refers people to your source code, and it's even worse if you have to maintain two separate files that say the same thing.




The recommended way to use this tool is by putting the following code in your Makefile and running make (You don't even have to clone the repository!): make-readme-markdown.el YOUR-MODULE.el
    emacs --script $< <YOUR-MODULE.el >$@ 2>/dev/null

    wget -q -O $@

.INTERMEDIATE: make-readme-markdown.el

You can also invoke it directly with emacs --script:

$ emacs --script make-readme-markdown.el <elisp-file-to-parse.el 2>/dev/null

All functions and macros in your module with docstrings will be documented in the output unless they've been marked as private. Convention dictates that private elisp functions have two hypens, like cup--noodle.


In order for this module to do you any good, you should write your file header comments in a way that make-readme-markdown.el understands. An attempt has been made to support the most common file header comment style, so hopefully you shouldn't have to do anything... The following patterns at the beginning of a line are special:

  • ;;; My Header :: Creates a header
  • ;; o My list item :: Creates a list item
  • ;; * My list item :: Creates a list item
  • ;; - My list item :: Creates a list item

Everything else is stripped of its leading semicolons and first space and is passed directly out. Note that you can embed markdown syntax directly in your comments. This means that you can embed blocks of code in your comments by leading the line with 4 spaces (in addition to the first space directly following the last semicolon). For example:

(defun strip-comments (line)
  "Stip elisp comments from line"
  (replace-regexp-in-string "^;+ ?" "" line))

Or you can use the triple-backtic+lang approach, like so:

(defun strip-comments (line)
  "Stip elisp comments from line"
  (replace-regexp-in-string "^;+ ?" "" line))

Remember, if you want to indent code within a list item you need to use a blank line and 8 spaces. For example:

  • I like bananas
  • I like pizza

    (eat (make-pizza "pepperoni"))
  • I like ice cream with pretty syntax highlighting

(eat (make-ice-cream "vanilla"))
  • I need to go for a run

We parse everything between ;;; Commentary: and ;;; Code. See make-readme-markdown.el for an example (you might already be looking at it... whoa, this is really getting meta...).

If there's some more syntax you would like to see supported, submit an issue at

Function Documentation

(strip-comments LINE)

Stip elisp comments from line

(trim-string LINE)

Trim spaces from beginning and end of string

(fix-symbol-references LINE)

Fix refs like this so they don't turn adjacent text into code.

(make-section LINE LEVEL)

Makes a markdown section using the # syntax.

(print-section LINE LEVEL)

Prints a section made with make-section.


Read all text from stdin as list of lines

(print-formatted-line LINE)

Prints a line formatted as markdown.


Searches for next defun/macro and print markdown documentation.

Markdown README file generated by make-readme-markdown.el
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