Modus Themes (Modus Operandi and Modus Vivendi)
Accessible themes for GNU Emacs, conforming with the highest standard for colour contrast between background and foreground values (WCAG AAA)
These are the out-of-the-box looks of
modus-vivendi respectively (click to enlarge the images for more accurate results):
And those are with some options enabled:
There are a lot of customization options, so please read the rest of this page.
This manual, written by Protesilaos Stavrou, describes the customization
options for the
modus-vivendi themes, and
provides every other piece of information pertinent to them.
The documentation furnished herein corresponds to stable version 1.1.1, released on 2021-01-25. Any reference to a newer feature which does not yet form part of the latest tagged commit, is explicitly marked as such.
Current development target is 1.2.0-dev. This manual was rebuilt on 2021-02-28 22:13 +0200.
Table of Contents
- 1. COPYING
- 2. Overview
- 3. Installation
- 4. Enable and load
- 5. Customization Options
- 5.1. Bold constructs
- 5.2. Slanted constructs
- 5.3. Syntax styles
- 5.4. No mixed fonts
- 5.5. Link styles
- 5.6. Command prompts
- 5.7. Mode line
- 5.8. Completion UIs
- 5.9. Fringes
- 5.10. Language checkers
- 5.11. Line highlighting
- 5.12. Line numbers
- 5.13. Matching parentheses
- 5.14. Active region
- 5.15. Diffs
- 5.16. Org mode blocks
- 5.17. Org agenda habits
- 5.18. Heading styles
- 5.19. Scaled headings
- 5.20. UI typeface
- 5.21. Headings' typeface
- 6. Advanced customization (do-it-yourself)
- 6.1. Per-theme customization settings (DIY)
- 6.2. Case-by-case face specs using the themes’ palette (DIY)
- 6.3. Face specs at scale using the themes’ palette (DIY)
- 6.4. Override colors (DIY)
- 6.5. Font configurations for Org and others (DIY)
- 6.6. Custom Org user faces (DIY)
- 6.7. Measure color contrast (DIY)
- 6.8. Load theme depending on time of day
- 6.9. A theme-agnostic hook for theme loading (DIY)
- 7. Face coverage
- 8. Notes for individual packages
- 8.1. Note for display-fill-column-indicator-mode
- 8.2. Note for mmm-mode.el background colors
- 8.3. Note for prism
- 8.4. Note on company-mode overlay pop-up
- 8.5. Note for ERC escaped color sequences
- 8.6. Note for powerline or spaceline
- 8.7. Note on SHR colors
- 8.8. Note for Helm grep
- 8.9. Note on vc-annotate-background-mode
- 8.10. Note on pdf-tools link hints
- 9. Contributing
- 10. Acknowledgements
- 11. Meta
- 12. GNU Free Documentation License
- 13. Indices
Copyright (C) 2020-2021 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
The Modus themes are designed for accessible readability. They conform with the highest standard for color contrast between any given combination of background and foreground values. This corresponds to the WCAG AAA standard, which specifies a minimum rate of distance in relative luminance of 7:1.
Modus Operandi (
modus-operandi) is a light theme, while Modus Vivendi
modus-vivendi) is dark. Each theme’s color palette is designed to
meet the needs of the numerous interfaces that are possible in the Emacs
The overarching objective of this project is to always offer accessible color combinations. There shall never be a compromise on this principle. If there arises an inescapable trade-off between readability and stylistic considerations, we will always opt for the former.
To ensure that users have a consistently accessible experience, the themes strive to achieve as close to full face coverage as possible (Face coverage).
Starting with version 0.12.0 and onwards, the themes are built into GNU Emacs.
2.1 How do the themes look like
2.2 Learn about the latest changes
Please refer to the web page with the change log. It is comprehensive and covers everything that goes into every tagged release of the themes.
The Modus themes are distributed with Emacs starting with version 28.1. On older versions of Emacs, they can be installed using Emacs’ package manager or manually from their code repository. There also exist packages for distributions of GNU/Linux.
3.1 Install manually from source
In the following example, we are assuming that your Emacs files are
~/.emacs.d and that you want to place the Modus themes in
- Get the source and store it in the desired path by running the following in the command line shell:
$ git clone https://gitlab.com/protesilaos/modus-themes.git ~/.emacs.d/modus-themes
- Add that path to your known Elisp libraries’ list, by placing this snippet of Emacs Lisp in your init file (e.g. init.el):
(add-to-list 'load-path "~/.emacs.d/modus-themes")
The themes are now ready to be used: Enable and load.
3.2 Install from the archives
modus-themes package is available from the GNU ELPA archive, which
is configured by default.
Prior to querying any package archive, make sure to have updated the
index, with M-x package-refresh-contents. Then all you need
to do is type M-x package-install and specify the
Note that older versions of the themes used to be distributed as standalone packages. This practice has been discontinued starting with version 1.0.0 of this project.
Once installed, the themes are ready to be used: Enable and load.
3.3 Install on GNU/Linux
The themes are also available from the archives of some distributions of GNU/Linux. These should correspond to a tagged release rather than building directly from the latest Git commit. It all depends on the distro’s packaging policies.
3.3.1 Debian 11 Bullseye
The themes are part of Debian 11 Bullseye. Get them with:
sudo apt install elpa-modus-themes
They are now ready to be used: Enable and load.
3.3.2 GNU Guix
Users of Guix can get the themes with this command:
guix package -i emacs-modus-themes
They are now ready to be used: Enable and load.
4 Enable and load
Before you load a theme, it is necessary to require the main library:
Then load the individual theme files with the helper function
;; Load the theme files before enabling a theme (else you get an error). (modus-themes-load-themes)
Once the libraries that define the themes are enabled, you can load a theme with either of the following expressions:
(modus-themes-load-operandi) ; Light theme ;; OR (modus-themes-load-vivendi) ; Dark theme
You may want to make some changes to the available customization options before loading a theme (Customization Options). So this is how a basic setup should look like:
(require 'modus-themes) ;; Your customisations here. For example: (setq modus-themes-bold-constructs t modus-themes-mode-line '3d) ;; Load the theme files before enabling a theme (else you get an error). (modus-themes-load-themes) ;; Enable the theme of your preference: (modus-themes-load-operandi) ;; Optionally add a key binding for the toggle between the themes: (define-key global-map (kbd "<f5>") #'modus-themes-toggle)
With those granted, bear in mind a couple of technical points on
modus-themes-load-vivendi, as well as
modus-themes-toggle which relies on them:
- Those functions call
load-theme. Some users prefer to opt for
enable-themeinstead (Differences between loading and enabling).
- The functions will run the
modus-themes-after-load-theme-hookas their final step. This can be employed for bespoke configurations (Advanced customization (do-it-yourself)). Experienced users may not wish to rely on such a hook and the functions that run it: they may prefer a custom solution (A theme-agnostic hook for theme loading).
4.1 Sample configuration for use-package
It is common for Emacs users to rely on
use-package for declaring
package configurations in their setup. We use this as an example:
(use-package modus-themes :ensure :init ;; Add all your customizations prior to loading the themes (setq modus-themes-slanted-constructs t modus-themes-bold-constructs nil) ;; Load the theme files before enabling a theme (else you get an error). (modus-themes-load-themes) :config ;; Load the theme of your choice: (modus-themes-load-operandi) ;; OR (modus-themes-load-vivendi) :bind ("<f5>" . modus-themes-toggle))
Note: make sure not to customize the variable
custom-theme-directory after the themes’ package declaration. That
will lead to failures in loading the files. If either or both of those
variables need to be changed, their values should be defined before the
package declaration of the themes.
4.2 Differences between loading and enabling
The reason we recommend
load-theme instead of the other option of
enable-theme is that the former does a kind of “reset” on the face
specs. It quite literally loads (or re-loads) the theme. Whereas the
latter simply puts an already loaded theme at the top of the list of
enabled items, re-using whatever state was last loaded.
load-theme reads all customizations that may happen during
any given Emacs session: even after the initial setup of a theme.
Examples are calls to
custom-set-faces, as well as new values assigned
to the options the Modus themes provide (Customization Options).
Our tests show that
enable-theme does not read such variables anew, so
it might appear to the unsuspecting user that the themes are somehow
broken whenever they try to assign a new value to a customization option
or some face.
This “reset” that
load-theme conducts does, however, come at the cost
of being somewhat slower than
enable-theme. Users who have a stable
setup and who seldom update their variables during a given Emacs
session, are better off using something like this:
(require 'modus-themes) (require 'modus-operandi-theme) (require 'modus-vivendi-theme) (enable-theme 'modus-operandi) ;; OR (enable-theme 'modus-vivendi)
With the above granted, other sections of the manual discuss how to
configure custom faces, where
load-theme is expected, though
enable-theme could still apply in stable setups:
5 Customization Options
The Modus themes are highly configurable, though they should work well without any further tweaks. By default, all customization options are set to nil.
Remember that all customization options must be evaluated before loading a theme (Enable and load).
5.1 Option for more bold constructs
The default is to use a bold typographic weight only when it is required.
With a non-nil value (
t) display several syntactic constructs in bold
weight. This concerns keywords and other important aspects of code
syntax. It also affects certain mode line indicators and command-line
5.2 Option for more slanted constructs
The default is to not use slanted text (italics) unless it is absolutely necessary.
With a non-nil value (
t) choose to render more faces in slanted text.
This typically affects documentation strings and code comments.
5.3 Option for syntax highlighting
faint-yellow-comments(Part of 1.2.0-dev)
The default style (nil) for code syntax highlighting is a balanced combination of colors on the cyan-blue-magenta side of the spectrum. There is little to no use of greens, yellows, or reds, except when it is necessary.
faint is like the default in terms of the choice of palette but
applies desaturated color values.
yellow-comments adds a yellow tint to comments. The rest of the
syntax is the same as the default.
green-strings replaces the blue/cyan/cold color variants in
strings with greener alternatives. The rest of the syntax remains the
yellow-comments-green-strings combines yellow comments with
green strings and the rest of the default syntax highlighting style.
alt-syntax expands the active spectrum by applying color
combinations with more contrasting hues between them. Expect to find
red and green variants in addition to cyan, blue, magenta.
faint-yellow-comments combines the
faint style with
5.4 Option for no font mixing
By default, the themes configure some spacing-sensitive faces like Org
tables and code blocks to always inherit from the
This is to ensure that those constructs remain monospaced even when
users opt for a mode that remaps typeface families, such as the built-in
M-x variable-pitch-mode. Otherwise the layout would appear
broken, due to how spacing is done. To disable this behaviour, set the
Users may prefer to use another package for handling mixed typeface
configurations, rather than letting the theme do it, perhaps because a
purpose-specific package has extra functionality. Two possible options
5.5 Option for links
neutral-underline-only(Part of 1.2.0-dev)
The default style (nil) for links is to apply an underline and a saturated color to the affected text. The color of the two is the same, which makes the link fairly prominent.
faint follows the same approach as the default, but uses less
neutral-underline changes the underline’s color to a subtle
gray, while retaining the default text color.
faint-neutral-underline combines a desaturated text color with
a subtle gray underline.
no-underline removes link underlines altogether, while
retaining their original fairly vivid color.
underline-only applies a prominent underline while making the
affected text colorless (it uses the same foreground as the theme’s
neutral-underline-only makes the text colorless while using a
subtle gray underline below it.
NOTE: The placement of the underline, i.e. its proximity to the affected
text, is controlled by the built-in
Please refer to their documentation strings.
5.6 Option for command prompt styles
subtleremains for backward compatibility)
intenseremains for backward compatibility)
The default does not use any background for minibuffer and command line prompts. It relies exclusively on an accented foreground color.
intense-accented will change both the
background and the foreground values to use accented color combinations
that follow the hue of the default styles’ foreground (e.g. the default
minibuffer prompt is cyan text, so these combinations will involved a
cyan background and an appropriate cyan foreground). The difference
between the two is that the latter has a more pronounced/noticeable
effect than the former.
intense-gray are like their accented
counterparts, except they use grayscale values.
5.7 Option for mode line presentation
The default produces a two-dimensional effect both for the active and inactive modelines. The differences between the two are limited to distinct shades of grayscale values, with the active being more intense than the inactive.
3d will make the active modeline look like a three-dimensional
rectangle. Inactive modelines remain 2D, though they are slightly toned
down relative to the default. This aesthetic is virtually the same as
what you get when you run Emacs without any customizations (
on the command line).
moody removes all box effects from the modelines and applies
underline and overline properties instead. It also tones down a bit the
inactive modelines. This is meant to optimize things for use with the
moody package (hereinafter referred to as “Moody”), though it can work
fine even without it.
borderless option uses the same colors as the default (nil value),
but removes the border effect. This is done by making the box property
use the same color as the background, effectively blending the two and
creating some padding.
borderless-moody approximate the
moody options respectively, while removing the borders. However, to
ensure that the inactive modelines remain visible, they apply a slightly
more prominent background to them than what their counterparts do (same
inactive background as with the default).
Note that Moody does not expose any faces that the themes could style
directly. Instead it re-purposes existing ones to render its tabs and
ribbons. As such, there may be cases where the contrast ratio falls
below the 7:1 target that the themes conform with (WCAG AAA). To hedge
against this, we configure a fallback foreground for the
which will come into effect when the background of the modeline changes
to something less accessible, such as Moody ribbons (read the doc string
fallback is activated when Emacs determines that the background and
foreground of the given construct are too close to each other in terms
of color distance. In effect, users would need to experiment with the
face-near-same-color-threshold to trigger the effect. We
find that a value of
45000 will suffice, contrary to the default
30000. Do not set the value too high, because that would have the
adverse effect of always overriding the default color (which has been
carefully designed to be highly accessible).
Furthermore, because Moody expects an underline and overline instead of a box style, it is advised you include this in your setup:
(setq x-underline-at-descent-line t)
5.8 Option for completion framework aesthetics
This is a special option that has different effects depending on the completion UI. The interfaces can be grouped in two categories, based on their default aesthetics: (i) those that only or mostly use foreground colors for their interaction model, and (ii) those that combine background and foreground values for some of their metaphors. The former category encompasses Icomplete, Ido, Selectrum as well as pattern matching styles like Orderless and Flx. The latter covers Helm, Ivy, and similar.
A value of
nil will respect the metaphors of each completion
moderate applies a combination of background and foreground
that is fairly subtle. For Icomplete and friends this constitutes a
departure from their default aesthetics, however the difference is
small. While Helm, Ivy et al appear slightly different than their
original looks, as they are toned down a bit.
opinionated uses color combinations that refashion the
completion UI. For the Icomplete camp this means that intense
background and foreground combinations are used: in effect their looks
emulate those of Helm, Ivy and co. in their original style. Whereas the
other group of packages will revert to an even more nuanced aesthetic
with some additional changes to the choice of hues.
To appreciate the scope of this customization option, you should spend
some time with every one of the
5.9 Option for fringe visibility
The default is to use the same color as that of the main background,
meaning that the fringes are not obvious though they still occupy the
space given to them by
intense apply a gray background, making the
fringes visible. The difference between the two is one of degree, as
their names imply.
5.10 Option for language checkers
Nil (the default) applies a color-coded underline to the affected text, while it leaves the original foreground in tact. If the display spec where Emacs runs in has support for it (e.g. Emacs GUI), the underline’s style is that of a wave, otherwise it is a straight line.
intense-foreground follow the same
color-coding pattern and wavy underline of the default, while extending
it with a corresponding foreground value for the affected text. The
difference between the two options is one of degree, as their names
straight-underline is like the default but always applies a
straight line under the affected text. Same principle for
subtle-foreground-straight-underline and its counterpart
colored-background uses a straight underline, a tinted
background, and a suitable foreground. All are color-coded. This is
the most intense combination of face properties.
The present variable affects packages and/or face groups such as those
NOTE: The placement of the straight underline, though not the wave
style, is controlled by the built-in
Please refer to their documentation strings.
5.11 Option for line highlighting (hl-line-mode)
The default is to use a subtle gray background for
its global equivalent.
With a non-nil value (
t) use a more prominent background color
This affects several packages that enable
hl-line-mode, such as
5.12 Option for line numbers (display-line-numbers-mode)
(Part of 1.2.0-dev)
The default style for
display-line-numbers-mode and its global variant
is to apply a subtle gray background to the line numbers. The current
line has a more pronounced background and foreground combination to
bring more attention to itself.
Similarly, the faces for
display-line-numbers-major-tick and its
display-line-numbers-minor-tick use appropriate styles
that involve a bespoke background and foreground combination.
With a non-nil value (
t), line numbers have no background of their
own. Instead they retain the primary background of the theme, blending
with the rest of the buffer. Foreground values for all relevant faces
are updated to accommodate this aesthetic.
5.13 Option for parenthesis matching (show-paren-mode)
Nil means to use a subtle tinted background color for the matching delimiters.
intense applies a saturated background color.
subtle-bold is the same as the default, but also makes use of
bold typographic weight (inherits the
intense-bold is the same as
intense, while it also uses a
This customization variable affects tools such as the built-in
show-paren-mode and the
5.14 Option for active region
Nil means to only use a prominent gray background with a neutral foreground. The foreground overrides all syntax highlighting. The region extends to the edge of the window.
no-extend preserves the default aesthetic but prevents the
region from extending to the edge of the window.
bg-only applies a faint tinted background that is distinct from
all others used in the theme, while it does not override any existing
colors. It extends to the edge of the window.
bg-only-no-extend is a combination of the
5.15 Option for diff buffer looks
deuteranopia(Part of 1.2.0-dev)
By default the themes apply rich coloration to the output of diffs, such
as those of
smerge-mode, and Magit. These are
color combinations of an accented background and foreground so that, for
example, added lines have a pronounced green background with an
appropriate shade of green for the affected text. Word-wise or
“refined” changes follow this pattern but use different shades of those
colors to remain distinct.
desaturated tones down all relevant color values. It still
combines an accented background with an appropriate foreground, yet its
overall impression is fairly subtle. Refined changes are a bit more
intense to fulfil their intended function, though still less saturated
fg-only will remove most accented backgrounds and instead rely
on color-coded text to denote changes. For instance, added lines use a
green foreground, while their background is the same as the rest of the
buffer. Word-wise highlights still use a background value which is,
nonetheless, more subtle than its default equivalent.
bg-only applies color-coded backgrounds but does not override
any syntax highlighting that may be present. This makes it suitable for
use with a non-nil value for
diff-font-lock-syntax (which is the
diff-mode buffers in Emacs 27 or higher).
deuteranopia optimizes for red-green color deficiency. It
replaces all instances of green with blue variants. This is to ensure
that indicators for “removed” and “added” states are not mistaken for
Concerning Magit, an extra set of tweaks are introduced for the effect
of highlighting the current diff hunk, so as to remain aligned with the
overall experience of that mode. Expect changes that are consistent
with the overall intent of the aforementioned. Note, however, that the
bg-only option will not deliver the intended results in Magit diffs
because no syntax highlighting is used there (last checked with Magit
version 20201116.1057, though upstream has a plan to eventually support
such a feature—this entry shall be updated accordingly).
5.16 Option for org-mode block styles
The default is to use the same background as the rest of the buffer for the contents of the block.
grayscale applies a subtle neutral gray background to the
block’s contents. It will also extend to the edge of the window the
background of the “begin” and “end” block delimiter lines (only relevant
for Emacs versions >= 27 where the ’extend’ keyword is part of the face
rainbow uses an accented background for the contents of the
block. The exact color will depend on the programming language and is
controlled by the
org-src-block-faces variable. This is most suitable
for users who work on literate programming documents that mix and match
Note that the “rainbow” blocks may require you to also reload the major-mode so that the colors are applied consistently throughout: use M-x org-mode or M-x org-mode-restart to refresh the buffer. Or start typing in each code block (inefficient at scale, but it still works).
5.17 Option for org-habit graph styles
The default is meant to conform with the original aesthetic of
org-habit. It employs all four color codes that correspond to the
org-habit states—clear, ready, alert, and overdue—while
distinguishing between their present and future variants. This results
in a total of eight colors in use: red, yellow, green, blue, in tinted
and shaded versions. They cover the full set of information provided by
org-habit consistency graph.
simplified is like the default except that it removes the
dichotomy between current and future variants by applying uniform
color-coded values. It applies a total of four colors: red, yellow,
green, blue. They produce a simplified consistency graph that is more
legible (or less “busy”) than the default. The intent is to shift focus
towards the distinction between the four states of a habit task, rather
than each state’s present/future outlook.
traffic-light further reduces the available colors to red,
yellow, and green. As in
simplified, present and future variants
appear uniformly, but differently from it, the ’clear’ state is rendered
in a green hue, instead of the original blue. This is meant to capture
the use-case where a habit task being “too early” is less important than
it being “too late”. The difference between ready and clear states is
attenuated by painting both of them using shades of green. This option
thus highlights the alert and overdue states.
5.18 Option for the headings' overall style
This is defined as an alist and, therefore, uses a different approach than other customization options documented in this manual.
Possible values, which can be specified for each heading level (examples further below):
- nil (default fallback option—covers all heading levels)
t(default style for a single heading, when the fallback differs)
To control faces per level from 1-8, use something like this:
(setq modus-themes-headings '((1 . section) (2 . section-no-bold) (3 . rainbow-line) (t . rainbow-line-no-bold)))
The above uses the
section value for heading levels 1,
section-no-bold for headings 2,
rainbow-line for 3. All other
levels fall back to
To set a uniform value for all heading levels, use this pattern:
;; A given style for every heading (setq modus-themes-headings '((t . section))) ;; Default aesthetic for every heading (setq modus-themes-headings '())
The default style for headings uses a fairly desaturated foreground
value in combination with bold typographic weight. To specify this
style for a given level N, assuming you wish to have another fallback
option, just specify the value
t like this:
(setq modus-themes-headings '((1 . t) (2 . line) (t . rainbow-line-no-bold)))
A description of all other possible styles beyond the default:
no-boldretains the default text color while removing the bold typographic weight.
lineis the same as the default plus an overline across the heading’s length.
line-no-boldis the same as
linewithout bold weight.
rainbowuses a more colorful foreground in combination with bold typographic weight.
rainbow-lineis the same as
rainbowplus an overline.
rainbow-line-no-boldis the same as
rainbow-linewithout the bold weight.
highlightretains the default style of a fairly desaturated foreground combined with a bold weight and adds to it a subtle accented background.
highlight-no-boldis the same as
highlightwithout a bold weight.
rainbow-highlightis the same as
highlightbut with a more colorful foreground.
rainbow-highlight-no-boldis the same as
rainbow-highlightwithout a bold weight.
sectionretains the default looks and adds to them both an overline and a slightly accented background. It is, in effect, a combination of the
section-no-boldis the same as
sectionwithout a bold weight.
rainbow-sectionis the same as
sectionbut with a more colorful foreground.
rainbow-section-no-boldis the same as
rainbow-sectionwithout a bold weight.
no-colordoes not apply any color to the heading, meaning that it uses the foreground of the
defaultface. It still renders the text with a bold typographic weight.
no-colorbut without the bold weight.
5.19 Option for scaled headings
The default is to use the same size for headings and paragraph text.
With a non-nil value (
t) make headings larger in height relative to
the main text. This is noticeable in modes like Org, Markdown, and
5.19.1 Control the scale of headings
In addition to the toggle for enabling scaled headings, users can also specify a number of their own.
- If it is a floating point, say,
1.5, it is interpreted as a multiple of the base font size. This is the recommended method, because it will always adapt to changes in the base font size, such as while using the
- If it is an integer, it is read as an absolute font height that is
1/10 of the typographic point size. Thus a value of
18ptmust be expressed as
180. Setting an absolute value is discouraged, as it will break the layout in cases where the base font size must change, such as with the
text-scale-adjustcommand (Font configurations). While we discourage using absolute values, we still provide for this option for users who do not need to perform text-scaling operations or who are content with whatever discrepancies in height.
Below are the variables in their default values, using the floating
point paradigm. The numbers are very conservative, but one is free to
change them to their liking, such as
2.0—or use a resource for finding a consistent scale:
(setq modus-themes-scale-1 1.05 modus-themes-scale-2 1.1 modus-themes-scale-3 1.15 modus-themes-scale-4 1.2 modus-themes-scale-5 1.3)
As for the application of that scale, the variables that range from
modus-themes-scale-1 up to
modus-themes-scale-4 apply to regular
headings within the context of the given major mode. The former is the
smallest, while the latter is the largest. “Regular headings” are those
that have a standard syntax for their scale, such as Org mode’s eight
levels of asterisks or Markdown’s six columns.
modus-themes-scale-5 is applied to special headings that do
not conform with the aforementioned syntax, yet which are expected to be
larger than the largest value on that implied scale. Put concretely,
#+title meta datum is not part of the eight levels of headings
in an Org file, yet is supposed to signify the primary header.
Similarly, the Org Agenda’s structure headings are not part of a
recognisable scale and so they also get
Users who wish to maintain scaled headings for the normal syntax while
preventing special headings from standing out, can assign a value of
modus-themes-scale-5 to make it the same as body text (or
whatever value would render it indistinguishable from the desired point
Note that in earlier versions of Org, scaling would only increase the size of the heading, but not of keywords that were added to it, like “TODO”. The issue has been fixed upstream: https://protesilaos.com/codelog/2020-09-24-org-headings-adapt/.
5.20 Option for variable-pitch font in UI elements
This option concerns User Interface elements that are under the direct control of Emacs. In particular: the mode line, header line, tab bar, and tab line.
The default is to use the same font as the rest of Emacs, which usually is a monospaced family.
With a non-nil value (
t) apply a proportionately spaced typeface.
This is done by assigning the
variable-pitch face to the relevant
5.21 Option for variable-pitch font in headings
The default is to use the main font family, which typically is monospaced.
With a non-nil value (
t) apply a proportionately spaced typeface, else
“variable-pitch”, to headings (such as in Org mode).
6 Advanced customization (do-it-yourself)
Unlike the predefined customization options which follow a clear pattern of allowing the user to quickly specify their preference, the themes also provide a more flexible, albeit difficult, mechanism to control things with precision (Customization Options).
This section is of interest only to users who are prepared to maintain their own local tweaks and who are willing to deal with any possible incompatibilities between versioned releases of the themes. As such, they are labelled as “do-it-yourself” or “DIY”.
6.1 Per-theme customization settings (DIY)
If you prefer to maintain different customization options between the two themes, it is best you write your own functions that first set those options and then load the relevant theme. The following code does exactly that by simply differentiating the two themes on the choice of bold constructs in code syntax (enabled for one, disabled for the other).
(defun my-demo-modus-operandi () (interactive) (setq modus-themes-bold-constructs t) ; ENABLE bold (modus-themes-load-operandi)) (defun my-demo-modus-vivendi () (interactive) (setq modus-themes-bold-constructs nil) ; DISABLE bold (modus-themes-load-vivendi)) (defun my-demo-modus-themes-toggle () (if (eq (car custom-enabled-themes) 'modus-operandi) (my-demo-modus-vivendi) (my-demo-modus-operandi)))
my-demo-modus-themes-toggle to a key instead of the
equivalent the themes provide.
For a more elaborate design, it is better to inspect the source code of
modus-themes-toggle and relevant functions.
6.2 Case-by-case face specs using the themes’ palette (DIY)
This section is about tweaking individual faces. If you plan to do things at scale, consult the next section: Set multiple faces.
We already covered in previous sections how to toggle between the themes and how to configure options prior to loading. We also explained that some of the functions made available to users will fire up a hook that can be used to pass tweaks in the post-theme-load phase.
Now assume you wish to change a single face, say, the
cursor. And you
would like to get the standard “blue” color value of the active Modus
theme, whether it is Modus Operandi or Modus Vivendi. To do that, you
can use the
modus-themes-color function. It accepts a symbol that is
associated with a color in
modus-themes-vivendi-colors. Like this:
The function always extracts the color value of the active Modus theme.
(progn (load-theme 'modus-operandi t) (modus-themes-color 'blue)) ; "#0031a9" for `modus-operandi' (progn (load-theme 'modus-vivendi t) (modus-themes-color 'blue)) ; "#2fafff" for `modus-vivendi'
Do C-h v on the aforementioned variables to check all the available symbols that can be passed to this function.
With that granted, let us expand the example to actually change the
cursor face’s background property. We employ the built-in function of
(set-face-attribute 'cursor nil :background (modus-themes-color 'blue))
If you evaluate this form, your cursor will become blue. But if you
change themes, such as with
modus-themes-toggle, your edits will be
lost, because the newly loaded theme will override the
attribute you had assigned to that face.
For such changes to persist, we need to make them after loading the
theme. So we rely on
modus-themes-after-load-theme-hook, which gets
as well as the command
modus-themes-toggle. Here is a sample function
that tweaks two faces and then gets added to the hook:
(defun my-modus-themes-custom-faces () (set-face-attribute 'cursor nil :background (modus-themes-color 'blue)) (set-face-attribute 'font-lock-type-face nil :foreground (modus-themes-color 'magenta-alt))) (add-hook 'modus-themes-after-load-theme-hook #'my-modus-themes-custom-faces)
Using this principle, it is possible to override the styles of faces without having to find color values for each case.
Another application is to control the precise weight for bold
constructs. This is particularly useful if your typeface has several
variants such as “heavy”, “extrabold”, “semibold”. All you have to do
is edit the
bold face. For example:
(set-face-attribute 'bold nil :weight 'semibold)
Remember to use the custom function and hook combo we demonstrated above. Because the themes do not hard-wire a specific weight, this simple form is enough to change the weight of all bold constructs throughout the interface.
Finally, there are cases where you want to tweak colors though wish to
apply different ones to each theme, say, a blue hue for Modus Operandi
and a shade of red for Modus Vivendi. To this end, we provide
modus-themes-color-alts as a convenience function to save you from the
trouble of writing separate wrappers for each theme. It still returns a
single value by querying either of
modus-themes-vivendi-colors, only here you pass the two keys you want,
Take the previous example with the
;; Blue for `modus-operandi' and red for `modus-vivendi' (set-face-attribute 'cursor nil :background (modus-themes-color-alts 'blue 'red))
6.3 Face specs at scale using the themes’ palette (DIY)
The examples here are for large scale operations. For simple, one-off tweaks, you may prefer the approach documented in the previous section (Case-by-case face specs using the themes’ palette).
modus-themes-with-colors macro lets you retrieve multiple color
values by employing the backquote/backtick and comma notation. The
values are stored in the alists
modus-themes-vivendi-colors, while the macro always queries that of
the active Modus theme.
Here is an abstract example that just returns a list of color values
modus-operandi is enabled:
(modus-themes-with-colors (list fg-main blue-faint magenta magenta-alt-other cyan-alt-other fg-special-cold blue-alt magenta-faint cyan fg-main green-faint red-alt-faint blue-alt-faint fg-special-warm cyan-alt blue)) ;; => ;; ("#000000" "#002f88" "#721045" "#5317ac" ;; "#005a5f" "#093060" "#2544bb" "#752f50" ;; "#00538b" "#000000" "#104410" "#702f00" ;; "#003f78" "#5d3026" "#30517f" "#0031a9")
Getting a list of colors may have its applications, though what you are
most likely interested in is how to use those variables to configure
several faces at once. To do so we can rely on the built-in
custom-set-faces function, which sets face specifications for the
user theme. That “theme” gets applied on top of regular
This is how it works:
(modus-themes-with-colors (custom-set-faces `(cursor ((,class :background ,blue))) `(mode-line ((,class :inherit variable-pitch :background ,yellow-nuanced-bg :foreground ,yellow-nuanced-fg))) `(mode-line-inactive ((,class :inherit variable-pitch :background ,blue-nuanced-bg :foreground ,blue-nuanced-fg))) `(line-number ((,class :background unspecified :foreground ,fg-unfocused))) `(line-number-current-line ((,class :background unspecified :foreground ,red-alt-other)))))
We are showing some uses of
:inherit and of the special
value so that you can appreciate how a theme can be written. Otherwise
you can identify the color variables by the comma prefixed to them.
The above snippet will immediately refashion the faces it names once it
is evaluated. However, if you switch themes, say, from
modus-vivendi, the colors will not get updated to match those of
the new theme. To make things work across themes, we need to employ the
same technique we discussed in the previous section, namely, to pass our
changes at the post-theme-load phase via a hook.
The themes provide the
modus-themes-after-load-theme-hook, which gets
as well as the command
modus-themes-toggle. With this knowledge, you
can wrap the macro in a function and then assign that function to the
(defun my-modus-themes-custom-faces () (modus-themes-with-colors (custom-set-faces `(cursor ((,class :background ,blue))) `(mode-line ((,class :inherit variable-pitch :background ,yellow-nuanced-bg :foreground ,yellow-nuanced-fg))) `(mode-line-inactive ((,class :inherit variable-pitch :background ,blue-nuanced-bg :foreground ,blue-nuanced-fg))) `(line-number ((,class :background unspecified :foreground ,fg-unfocused))) `(line-number-current-line ((,class :background unspecified :foreground ,red-alt-other)))))) (add-hook 'modus-themes-after-load-theme-hook #'my-modus-themes-custom-faces)
To discover the faces defined by all loaded libraries, you may invoke
M-x list-faces-display. Be warned that when you
face you are introducing an implicit dependency, so try to avoid doing
so for libraries other than the built-in faces.el (or at
least understand that things may break if you inherit from a
Also bear in mind that these examples are meant to work with the Modus themes. If you are cycling between multiple themes you may encounter unforeseen issues, such as the colors of the Modus themes being applied to a non-Modus item.
Finally, note that you can still use other functions where those make
sense. For example, the
modus-themes-color-alts that was discussed in
the previous section. Adapt the above example like this:
... (modus-themes-with-colors (custom-set-faces `(cursor ((,class :background ,(modus-themes-color-alts 'blue 'green)))) ...))
A complete example with some more opinionated stylistic choices:
(defun my-modus-themes-custom-faces () (modus-themes-with-colors (custom-set-faces `(cursor ((,class :background ,(modus-themes-color-alts 'blue 'green)))) `(header-line ((,class :inherit variable-pitch))) `(tab-bar ((,class :inherit variable-pitch))) `(mode-line ((,class :inherit variable-pitch :box ,(modus-themes-color-alts 'yellow-subtle-bg 'magenta-subtle-bg) :background ,(modus-themes-color-alts 'yellow-nuanced-bg 'magenta-nuanced-bg) :foreground ,(modus-themes-color-alts 'yellow-nuanced-fg 'magenta-nuanced-fg)))) `(mode-line-inactive ((,class :inherit variable-pitch))) `(line-number ((,class :background unspecified :foreground ,fg-unfocused))) `(line-number-current-line ((,class :background ,(modus-themes-color-alts 'yellow-nuanced-bg 'magenta-nuanced-bg) :foreground ,(modus-themes-color-alts 'red-alt 'magenta-alt-other))))))) (add-hook 'modus-themes-after-load-theme-hook #'my-modus-themes-custom-faces)
6.4 Override colors (DIY)
The themes provide a mechanism for overriding their color values. This
is controlled by the variables
modus-themes-vivendi-color-overrides, which are alists that should
mirror a subset of the associations in
modus-themes-vivendi-colors respectively. As with all
customisations, overriding must be done before loading the affected
Let us approach the present topic one step at a time. Here is a simplified excerpt of the default palette for Modus Operandi with some basic background values that apply to buffers and the mode line (remember to inspect the actual value to find out all the associations you can override):
(defconst modus-themes-colors-operandi '((bg-main . "#ffffff") (bg-dim . "#f8f8f8") (bg-alt . "#f0f0f0") (bg-active . "#d7d7d7") (bg-inactive . "#efefef")))
As you can see, we bind a key to a hexadecimal RGB color value. Now say you wish to override those specific values and have your changes propagate to all faces that use those keys. You could write something like this, which adds a subtle ochre tint:
(setq modus-themes-operandi-color-overrides '((bg-main . "#fefcf4") (bg-dim . "#faf6ef") (bg-alt . "#f7efe5") (bg-active . "#e8dfd1") (bg-inactive . "#f6ece5")))
Once this is evaluated, any subsequent loading of
use those values instead of the defaults. No further intervention is
To reset your changes, apply this and reload the theme:
(setq modus-themes-operandi-color-overrides nil)
Users who wish to leverage such a mechanism can opt to implement it on-demand by means of a minor mode. The following snippet covers both themes and expands to some more assosiations:
(define-minor-mode my-modus-themes-tinted "Tweak some Modus themes colors." :init-value nil :global t (if my-modus-themes-tinted (setq modus-themes-operandi-color-overrides '((bg-main . "#fefcf4") (bg-dim . "#faf6ef") (bg-alt . "#f7efe5") (bg-hl-line . "#f4f0e3") (bg-active . "#e8dfd1") (bg-inactive . "#f6ece5") (bg-region . "#c6bab1") (bg-header . "#ede3e0") (bg-tab-bar . "#dcd3d3") (bg-tab-active . "#fdf6eb") (bg-tab-inactive . "#c8bab8") (fg-unfocused . "#55556f")) modus-themes-vivendi-color-overrides '((bg-main . "#100b17") (bg-dim . "#161129") (bg-alt . "#181732") (bg-hl-line . "#191628") (bg-active . "#282e46") (bg-inactive . "#1a1e39") (bg-region . "#393a53") (bg-header . "#202037") (bg-tab-bar . "#262b41") (bg-tab-active . "#120f18") (bg-tab-inactive . "#3a3a5a") (fg-unfocused . "#9a9aab"))) (setq modus-themes-operandi-color-overrides nil modus-themes-vivendi-color-overrides nil)))
With this in place, one can invoke M-x my-modus-themes-tinted and then load the Modus theme of their choice. The new colors will come into effect. Switching between the themes will also use the overrides.
Given that this is a user-level customisation, one is free to implement
whatever color values they desire, even if the possible combinations
fall below the minimum 7:1 contrast ratio that governs the design of the
themes (the WCAG AAA legibility standard). Preferences aside, it is
advised to inspect the source code of
modus-themes-vivendi-colors to read the inline commentary: it explains
what the intended use of each subset is.
Furthermore, users may benefit from the
that we provide: test color combinations. It measures the contrast
ratio between two color values, so it can help in overriding the palette
(or a subset thereof) without making the end result inaccessible.
6.5 Font configurations for Org and others (DIY)
The themes are designed to cope well with mixed font configurations.
This mostly concerns
markdown-mode, though expect to
find it elsewhere like in
In practice it means that the user can safely opt for a more
prose-friendly proportionately spaced typeface as their default, while
letting spacing-sensitive elements like tables and inline code always
use a monospaced font, by inheriting from the
Users can try the built-in M-x variable-pitch-mode to see the effect in action.
To make everything use your desired font families, you need to configure
variable-pitch (proportional spacing) and
(monospaced) faces respectively. It may also be convenient to set your
main typeface by configuring the
default face the same way.
Put something like this in your initialization file (also consider
reading the doc string of
;; Main typeface (set-face-attribute 'default nil :family "DejaVu Sans Mono" :height 110) ;; Proportionately spaced typeface (set-face-attribute 'variable-pitch nil :family "DejaVu Serif" :height 1.0) ;; Monospaced typeface (set-face-attribute 'fixed-pitch nil :family "DejaVu Sans Mono" :height 1.0)
Note the differences in the
:height property. The
default face must
specify an absolute value, which is the point size × 10. So if you want
to use a font at point size
11, you set the height to
110.1 Whereas every other face must have a value
that is relative to the default, represented as a floating point (if you
use an integer, then that means an absolute height). This is of
paramount importance: it ensures that all fonts can scale gracefully
when using something like the
text-scale-adjust command which only
operates on the base font size (i.e. the
default face’s absolute
6.6 Custom Org user faces (DIY)
org-mode have the option to configure various keywords and
priority cookies to better match their workflow. User options are
As those are meant to be custom faces, it is futile to have the themes guess what each user wants to use, which keywords to target, and so on. Instead, we can provide guidelines on how to customize things to one’s liking with the intent of retaining the overall aesthetic of the themes.
Please bear in mind that the end result of those is not controlled by
the active Modus theme but by how Org maps faces to its constructs.
Editing those while
org-mode is active requires re-initialization of
the mode with M-x org-mode-restart for changes to take
Let us assume you wish to visually differentiate your keywords. You have something like this:
(setq org-todo-keywords '((sequence "TODO(t)" "|" "DONE(D)" "CANCEL(C)") (sequence "MEET(m)" "|" "MET(M)") (sequence "STUDY(s)" "|" "STUDIED(S)") (sequence "WRITE(w)" "|" "WROTE(W)")))
You could then use a variant of the following to inherit from a face
that uses the styles you want and also to preserve the properties
applied by the
(setq org-todo-keyword-faces '(("MEET" . '(font-lock-preprocessor-face org-todo)) ("STUDY" . '(font-lock-variable-name-face org-todo)) ("WRITE" . '(font-lock-type-face org-todo))))
This will refashion the keywords you specify, while letting the other
org-todo-keywords use their original styles (which are
defined in the
If you want back the defaults, try specifying just the
(setq org-todo-keyword-faces '(("MEET" . org-todo) ("STUDY" . org-todo) ("WRITE" . org-todo)))
When you inherit from multiple faces, you need to quote the list as
shown further above. The order is important: the last item is applied
over the previous ones. If you do not want to blend multiple faces, you
do not need a quoted list. A pattern of
keyword . face will suffice.
Both approaches can be used simultaneously, as illustrated in this configuration of the priority cookies:
(setq org-priority-faces '((?A . '(org-scheduled-today org-priority)) (?B . org-priority) (?C . '(shadow org-priority))))
To find all the faces that are loaded in your current Emacs session, use M-x list-faces-display. Try M-x describe-variable as well and then specify the name of each of those Org variables demonstrated above. Their documentation strings will offer you further guidance.
Recall that the themes let you retrieve a color from their palette. Do it if you plan to control face attributes.
6.7 Measure color contrast (DIY)
The themes provide the functions
modus-themes-contrast. The former is a direct implementation of the
WCAG formula: https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20-TECHS/G18.html. It
calculates the relative luminance of a color value that is expressed in
hexadecimal RGB notation. While the latter function is just a
convenient wrapper for comparing the relative luminance between two
In practice, one needs to work only with
accepts two color values and returns their contrast ratio. Values range
from 1 to 21 (lowest to highest). The themes are designed to always be
equal or higher than 7 for each combination of background and foreground
that they use (this is the WCAG AAA standard—the most demanding of its
A couple of examples (rounded numbers):
;; Pure white with pure green (modus-themes-contrast "#ffffff" "#00ff00") ;; => 1.37 ;; That is an outright inaccessible combo ;; Pure black with pure green (modus-themes-contrast "#000000" "#00ff00") ;; => 15.3 ;; That is is a highly accessible combo
It does not matter which color value comes first. The ratio is always the same.
If one does not wish to read all the decimal points, it is possible to try something like this:
(format "%0.2f" (modus-themes-contrast "#000000" "#00ff00"))
While it is fine to perform such calculations on a case-by-case basis,
it is preferable to implement formulas and tables for more demanding
tasks. Such instruments are provided by
both of which are built into Emacs. Below is such a table that derives
the contrast ratio of all colors in the first column (pure red, green,
blue) relative to the color specified in the first row of the second
column (pure white) and rounds the results:
| | #ffffff | |---------+---------| | #ff0000 | 4.00 | | #00ff00 | 1.37 | | #0000ff | 8.59 | #+TBLFM: $2='(modus-themes-contrast $1 @1$2);%0.2f
To measure color contrast one needs to start from a known value. This typically is the background. The Modus themes define an expanded palette in large part because certain colors are only meant to be used in combination with some others. Consult the source code for the minutia and relevant commentary.
Such knowledge may prove valuable while attempting to override some of the themes’ colors: Override colors.
6.8 Load theme depending on time of day
While we do provide
modus-themes-toggle to manually switch between the
themes, users may also set up their system to perform such a task
automatically at sunrise and sunset.
This can be accomplished by specifying the coordinates of one’s location
using the built-in solar.el and then configuring the
(use-package solar ; built-in :config (setq calendar-latitude 35.17 calendar-longitude 33.36)) (use-package circadian ; you need to install this :ensure :after solar (setq circadian-themes '((:sunrise . modus-operandi) (:sunset . modus-vivendi))) (circadian-setup))
6.9 A theme-agnostic hook for theme loading (DIY)
The themes are designed with the intent to be useful to Emacs users of varying skill levels, from beginners to experts. This means that we try to make things easier by not expecting anyone reading this document to be proficient in Emacs Lisp or programming in general.
Such a case is with the use of the
which runs after
modus-themes-load-vivendi is evaluated. We recommend using that hook
for advanced customizations, because (1) we know for sure that it is
available once the themes are loaded, and (2) anyone consulting this
manual, especially the sections on enabling and loading the themes, will
be in a good position to benefit from that hook.
Advanced users who have a need to switch between the Modus themes and other items will find that such a hook does not meet their requirements: it only works with the Modus themes and only with the aforementioned functions.
A theme-agnostic setup can be configured thus:
(defvar after-enable-theme-hook nil "Normal hook run after enabling a theme.") (defun run-after-enable-theme-hook (&rest _args) "Run `after-enable-theme-hook'." (run-hooks 'after-enable-theme-hook)) (advice-add 'enable-theme :after #'run-after-enable-theme-hook)
This creates the
after-enable-theme-hook and makes it run after each
enable-theme, which means that it will work for all themes and
also has the benefit that it does not depend on functions such as
modus-themes-toggle and the others mentioned above.
called internally by
load-theme, so the hook works everywhere.
Now this specific piece of Elisp may be simple for experienced users, but it is not easy to read for newcomers, including the author of the Modus themes for the first several months of their time as an Emacs user. Hence our hesitation to recommend it as part of the standard setup of the Modus themes (it is generally a good idea to understand what the implications are of advising a function).
7 Face coverage
The Modus themes try to provide as close to full face coverage as possible. This is necessary to ensure a consistently accessible reading experience across all available interfaces.
7.1 Full support for packages or face groups
This list will always be updated to reflect the current state of the
project. The idea is to offer an overview of the known status of all
affected face groups. The items with an appended asterisk
* tend to
have lots of extensions, so the “full support” may not be 100% true…
- auctex and TeX
- breakpoint (provided by the built-in gdb-mi.el library)
- calendar and diary
- change-log and log-view (such as
- custom (what you get with M-x customize)
- dashboard (emacs-dashboard)
- diredp (dired+)
- eshell-prompt-extras (epe)
- evil* (evil-mode)
- font-lock (generic syntax highlighting)
- fountain (fountain-mode)
- git-gutter (and variants)
- highlight-escape-sequences (
- isearch, occur, etc.
- isl (isearch-light)
- jira (org-jira)
- line numbers (
display-line-numbers-modeand global variant)
- markup-faces (
- mmm-mode (Part of 1.2.0-dev)
- package (what you get with M-x list-packages)
- prism (Note for prism.el)
- quick-peek (Part of 1.2.0-dev)
- regexp-builder (also known as
- rg (rg.el)
- selectrum-prescient (Part of 1.2.0-dev)
- shortdoc (Part of 1.2.0-dev)
- table (built-in table.el)
- transient (pop-up windows such as Magit’s)
- vc (built-in mode line status for version control)
- vc-annotate (the out put of C-x v g)
- xterm-color (and ansi-colors)
Plus many other miscellaneous faces that are provided by the upstream GNU Emacs distribution.
7.2 Indirectly covered packages
These do not require any extra styles because they are configured to inherit from some basic faces. Please confirm.
8 Notes for individual packages
This section covers information that may be of interest to users of individual packages.
8.1 Note for display-fill-column-indicator-mode
While designing the style for
stayed close to the mode’s defaults: to apply a subtle foreground color
fill-column-indicator face, which blends well with the rest of
theme and is consistent with the role of that mode. This is to not
upset the expectations of users.
display-fill-column-indicator-mode has some known
limitations pertaining to its choice of using typographic characters to
draw its indicator. What should be a continuous vertical line might
appear as a series of dashes in certain contexts or under specific
conditions: a non-default value for
line-spacing, scaled and/or
variable-pitch headings have been observed to cause this effect.
Given that we cannot control such factors, it may be better for affected
users to deviate from the default style of the
face. Instead of setting a foreground color, one could use a background
and have the foreground be indistinguishable from it. For example:
(modus-themes-with-colors (custom-set-faces `(fill-column-indicator ((,class :background ,bg-inactive :foreground ,bg-inactive)))))
8.2 Note for mmm-mode.el background colors
The faces used by mmm-mode.el are expected to have a colorful background, while they should not touch any foreground value. The idea is that they must not interfere with existing fontification. Those background colors need to be distinct from each other, such as an unambiguous red juxtaposed with a clear blue.
While this design may be internally consistent with the raison d’être of that library, it inevitably produces inaccessible color combinations.
There are two competing goals at play:
- Legibility of the text, understood as the contrast ratio between the background and the foreground.
- Semantic precision of each face which entails faithfulness to color-coding of the underlying background.
As the Modus themes are designed with the express purpose of conforming with the first point, we have to forgo the apparent color-coding of the background elements. Instead we use subtle colors that do not undermine the legibility of the affected text while they still offer a sense of added context.
Users who might prefer to fall below the minimum 7:1 contrast ratio in relative luminance (the accessibility target we conform with), can opt to configure the relevant faces on their own.
This example uses more vivid background colors, though it comes at the very high cost of degraded legibility.
(modus-themes-with-colors (custom-set-faces `(mmm-cleanup-submode-face ((,class :background ,yellow-refine-bg))) `(mmm-code-submode-face ((,class :background ,bg-active))) `(mmm-comment-submode-face ((,class :background ,blue-refine-bg))) `(mmm-declaration-submode-face ((,class :background ,cyan-refine-bg))) `(mmm-default-submode-face ((,class :background ,bg-alt))) `(mmm-init-submode-face ((,class :background ,magenta-refine-bg))) `(mmm-output-submode-face ((,class :background ,red-refine-bg))) `(mmm-special-submode-face ((,class :background ,green-refine-bg)))))
8.3 Note for prism.el
This package by Adam Porter, aka “alphapapa” or “github-alphapapa”, implements an alternative to the typical coloration of code. Instead of highlighting the syntactic constructs, it applies color to different levels of depth in the code structure.
As prism.el offers a broad range of customisations, we cannot style it directly at the theme level: that would run contrary to the spirit of the package. Instead, we may offer preset color schemes. Those should offer a starting point for users to adapt to their needs.
In the following code snippets, we employ the
macro: Face specs at scale using the themes’ palette.
These are the minimum recommended settings with 16 colors:
(setq prism-num-faces 16) (prism-set-colors :desaturations '(0) ; do not change---may lower the contrast ratio :lightens '(0) ; same :colors (modus-themes-with-colors (list fg-main magenta cyan-alt-other magenta-alt-other blue magenta-alt cyan-alt red-alt-other green fg-main cyan yellow blue-alt red-alt green-alt-other fg-special-warm)))
With 8 colors:
(setq prism-num-faces 8) (prism-set-colors :desaturations '(0) ; do not change---may lower the contrast ratio :lightens '(0) ; same :colors (modus-themes-with-colors (list fg-special-cold magenta magenta-alt-other cyan-alt-other fg-main blue-alt red-alt-other cyan)))
And this is with 4 colors, which produces results that are the closest to the themes’ default aesthetic:
(setq prism-num-faces 4) (prism-set-colors :desaturations '(0) ; do not change---may lower the contrast ratio :lightens '(0) ; same :colors (modus-themes-with-colors (list fg-main cyan-alt-other magenta-alt-other magenta)))
If you need to apply desaturation and lightening, you can use what the prism.el documentation recommends, like this (adapting to the examples with the 4, 8, 16 colors):
(prism-set-colors :desaturations (cl-loop for i from 0 below 16 collect (* i 2.5)) :lightens (cl-loop for i from 0 below 16 collect (* i 2.5)) :colors (modus-themes-with-colors (list fg-main cyan-alt-other magenta-alt-other magenta)))
8.4 Note on company-mode overlay pop-up
By default, the
company-mode pop-up that lists completion candidates
is drawn using an overlay. This creates alignment issues every time it
is placed above a piece of text that has a different height than the
8.5 Note for ERC escaped color sequences
The built-in IRC client
erc has the ability to colorise any text using
escape sequences that start with
^C (inserted with C-q C-c)
and are followed by a number for the foreground and background.4 Possible numbers are 0-15, with the
first entry being the foreground and the second the background,
separated by a comma. Like this
^C1,6. The minimum setup is this:
(add-to-list 'erc-modules 'irccontrols) (setq erc-interpret-controls-p t erc-interpret-mirc-color t)
As this allows users the chance to make arbitrary combinations, it is impossible to guarantee a consistently high contrast ratio. All we can we do is provide guidance on the combinations that satisfy the accessibility standard of the themes:
- Modus Operandi
- Use foreground color 1 for all backgrounds from
2-15. Like so: C-q C-c1 where
Nis the background.
- Modus Vivendi
- Use foreground color 0 for all backgrounds from
2-13. Use foreground
1for backgrounds 14, 15.
Colors 0 and 1 are white and black respectively. So combine them together, if you must.
8.6 Note for powerline or spaceline
Both Powerline and Spaceline package users will likely need to use the
powerline-reset whenever they make changes to their themes
and/or modeline setup.
8.7 Note on SHR colors
Emacs’ HTML rendering library (shr.el) may need explicit configuration to respect the theme’s colors instead of whatever specifications the webpage provides.
Consult C-h v shr-use-colors.
8.8 Note for Helm grep
There is one face from the Helm package that is meant to highlight the
matches of a grep or grep-like command (
ripgrep). It is
helm-grep-match. However, this face can only apply when the user does
--color=always as a command-line option for their command.
Here is the docstring for that face, which is defined in the helm-grep.el library (you can visit the source code with M-x find-library).
Face used to highlight grep matches. Have no effect when grep backend use “–color=”
The user must either remove
--color from the flags passed to the grep
function, or explicitly use
--color=never (or equivalent). Helm
provides user-facing customization options for controlling the grep
function’s parameters, such as
--color=always is in effect, the grep output will use red text in
bold letter forms to present the matching part in the list of
candidates. That style still meets the contrast ratio target of >= 7:1
(accessibility standard WCAG AAA), because it draws the reference to
ANSI color number 1 (red) from the already-supported array of
8.9 Note on vc-annotate-background-mode
Due to the unique way
vc-annotate (C-x v g) applies colors,
support for its background mode (
disabled at the theme level.
Normally, such a drastic measure should not belong in a theme: assuming the user’s preferences is bad practice. However, it has been deemed necessary in the interest of preserving color contrast accessibility while still supporting a useful built-in tool.
If there actually is a way to avoid such a course of action, without prejudice to the accessibility standard of this project, then please report as much or send patches (Contributing).
8.10 Note on pdf-tools link hints
Hints are drawn by ImageMagick, not Emacs, i.e., ImageMagick doesn’t
know about the hint face unless you tell ImageMagick about it. By
default, only the foreground and background color attributes are
passed. The below snippet adds to those the various font attributes.
As it queries various faces, specifically
pdf-links-read-link and the
faces it inherits, it needs to be added to your initialization file
after you’ve customized any faces.
(use-package pdf-links :config (let ((spec (apply #'append (mapcar (lambda (name) (list name (face-attribute 'pdf-links-read-link name nil 'default))) '(:family :width :weight :slant))))) (setq pdf-links-read-link-convert-commands `("-density" "96" "-family" ,(plist-get spec :family) "-stretch" ,(let* ((width (plist-get spec :width)) (name (symbol-name width))) (replace-regexp-in-string "-" "" (capitalize name))) "-weight" ,(pcase (plist-get spec :weight) ('ultra-light "Thin") ('extra-light "ExtraLight") ('light "Light") ('semi-bold "SemiBold") ('bold "Bold") ('extra-bold "ExtraBold") ('ultra-bold "Black") (_weight "Normal")) "-style" ,(pcase (plist-get spec :slant) ('italic "Italic") ('oblique "Oblique") (_slant "Normal")) "-pointsize" "%P" "-undercolor" "%f" "-fill" "%b" "-draw" "text %X,%Y '%c'"))))
This section documents the canonical sources of the themes and the ways in which you can contribute to their ongoing development.
9.1 Sources of the themes
modus-vivendi themes are built into Emacs.
Currently they are in Emacs’ git main branch (trunk), which is tracking
the next development release target.
An HTML version of this manual is provided as an extension of the author’s personal website (does not rely on any non-free code).
9.2 Issues you can help with
A few tasks you can help with:
- Suggest refinements to packages that are covered.
- Report packages not covered thus far.
- Report bugs, inconsistencies, shortcomings.
- Help expand the documentation of covered-but-not-styled packages.
- Suggest refinements to the color palette.
- Help expand this document or any other piece of documentation.
- Merge requests for code refinements.
It is preferable that your feedback includes some screenshots, GIFs, or short videos, as well as further instructions to reproduce a given setup. Though this is not a requirement.
Whatever you do, bear in mind the overarching objective of the Modus themes: to keep a contrast ratio that is greater or equal to 7:1 between background and foreground colors. If a compromise is ever necessary between aesthetics and accessibility, it shall always be made in the interest of the latter.
9.3 Patches require copyright assignment to the FSF
Code contributions are most welcome. For any major edit (more than 15 lines, or so, in aggregate per person), you need to make a copyright assignment to the Free Software Foundation. This is necessary because the themes are part of the upstream Emacs distribution: the FSF must at all times be in a position to enforce the GNU General Public License.
Copyright assignment is a simple process. Check the request form below (please adapt it accordingly). You must write an email to the address mentioned in the form and then wait for the FSF to send you a legal agreement. Sign the document and file it back to them. This could all happen via email and take about a week. You are encouraged to go through this process. You only need to do it once. It will allow you to make contributions to Emacs in general.
Please email the following information to email@example.com, and we will send you the assignment form for your past and future changes. Please use your full legal name (in ASCII characters) as the subject line of the message. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- REQUEST: SEND FORM FOR PAST AND FUTURE CHANGES [What is the name of the program or package you're contributing to?] GNU Emacs [Did you copy any files or text written by someone else in these changes? Even if that material is free software, we need to know about it.] Copied a few snippets from the same files I edited. Their author, Protesilaos Stavrou, has already assigned copyright to the Free Software Foundation. [Do you have an employer who might have a basis to claim to own your changes? Do you attend a school which might make such a claim?] [For the copyright registration, what country are you a citizen of?] [What year were you born?] [Please write your email address here.] [Please write your postal address here.] [Which files have you changed so far, and which new files have you written so far?]
The Modus themes are a collective effort. Every bit of work matters.
- Protesilaos Stavrou.
- Contributions to code or documentation
- Anders Johansson, Basil L. Contovounesios, Carlo Zancanaro, Eli Zaretskii, Kostadin Ninev, Madhavan Krishnan, Markus Beppler, Matthew Stevenson, Nicolas De Jaeghere, Shreyas Ragavan, Stefan Kangas, Vincent Murphy, Xinglu Chen.
- Ideas and user feedback
- Aaron Jensen, Adam Spiers, Adrian Manea, Alex Griffin, Alex Peitsinis, Alexey Shmalko, Alok Singh, Anders Johansson, André Alexandre Gomes, Arif Rezai, Basil L. Contovounesios, Burgess Chang, Christian Tietze, Christopher Dimech, Damien Cassou, Daniel Mendler, Dario Gjorgjevski, David Edmondson, Davor Rotim, Divan Santana, Gerry Agbobada, Gianluca Recchia, Gustavo Barros, Hörmetjan Yiltiz, Ilja Kocken, Iris Garcia, Jeremy Friesen, John Haman, Kevin Fleming, Kostadin Ninev, Len Trigg, Manuel Uberti, Mark Burton, Markus Beppler, Michael Goldenberg, Morgan Smith, Murilo Pereira, Nicolas De Jaeghere, Paul Poloskov, Pete Kazmier, Peter Wu, Philip K., Pierre Téchoueyres, Roman Rudakov, Ryan Phillips, Shreyas Ragavan, Simon Pugnet, Tassilo Horn, Thibaut Verron, Trey Merkley, Togan Muftuoglu, Toon Claes, Uri Sharf, Utkarsh Singh, Vincent Foley. As well as users: Ben, CsBigDataHub1, Emacs Contrib, Eugene, Fourchaux, Fredrik, Moesasji, Nick, TheBlob42, bepolymathe, doolio, fleimgruber, iSeeU, jixiuf, okamsn, tycho garen.
- André Alexandre Gomes, Dimakakos Dimos, Morgan Smith, Nicolas Goaziou (Guix), Dhavan Vaidya (Debian), Stefan Kangas (core Emacs), Stefan Monnier (GNU Elpa).
- Inspiration for certain features
- Bozhidar Batsov (zenburn-theme), Fabrice Niessen (leuven-theme).
Special thanks, in no particular order, to Manuel Uberti and Omar Antolín Camarena for their long time contributions and insightful commentary.
If you are curious about the principles that govern the development of this project read the essay On the design of the Modus themes (2020-03-17).
Here are some more publications for those interested in the kind of work that goes into this project (sometimes the commits also include details of this sort):
- Modus Operandi theme subtle palette review (2020-05-10)
- Modus Vivendi theme subtle palette review (2020-06-13)
- Modus themes: new “faint syntax” option (2020-07-04)
- Modus themes: major review of “nuanced” colours (2020-07-08)
- Modus themes: review of blue colours (2020-09-14)
- Modus themes: review rainbow-delimiters faces (2020-12-27)
- Modus themes: review of select “faint” colours (2021-01-11)
And here are the canonical sources of this project’s documentation:
12 GNU Free Documentation License
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:height values do not need to be rounded to multiples of ten: the
115 are perfectly valid—some typefaces will change to account
for those finer increments.