Users of various languages have established many more-or-less standard coding systems for representing them. Emacs does not use these coding systems internally; instead, it converts from various coding systems to its own system when reading data, and converts the internal coding system to other coding systems when writing data. Conversion is possible in reading or writing files, in sending or receiving from the terminal, and in exchanging data with subprocesses.
Emacs assigns a name to each coding system. Most coding systems are
used for one language, and the name of the coding system starts with the
language name. Some coding systems are used for several languages;
their names usually start with `iso'. There are also special
emacs-mule which do not convert printing characters at all.
In addition to converting various representations of non-ASCII characters, a coding system can perform end-of-line conversion. Emacs handles three different conventions for how to separate lines in a file: newline, carriage-return linefeed, and just carriage-return.
The command C-h C (
information about particular coding systems. You can specify a coding
system name as argument; alternatively, with an empty argument, it
describes the coding systems currently selected for various purposes,
both in the current buffer and as the defaults, and the priority list
for recognizing coding systems (see section Recognizing Coding Systems).
To display a list of all the supported coding systems, type M-x list-coding-systems. The list gives information about each coding system, including the letter that stands for it in the mode line (see section The Mode Line).
Each of the coding systems that appear in this list--except for
no-conversion, which means no conversion of any kind--specifies
how and whether to convert printing characters, but leaves the choice of
end-of-line conversion to be decided based on the contents of each file.
For example, if the file appears to use carriage-return linefeed between
lines, that end-of-line conversion will be used.
Each of the listed coding systems has three variants which specify exactly what to do for end-of-line conversion:
These variant coding systems are omitted from the
list-coding-systems display for brevity, since they are entirely
predictable. For example, the coding system
The coding system
raw-text is good for a file which is mainly
ASCII text, but may contain byte values above 127 which are not meant to
encode non-ASCII characters. With
raw-text, Emacs copies those
byte values unchanged, and sets
nil in the current buffer so that they will be interpreted
raw-text handles end-of-line conversion in the usual
way, based on the data encountered, and has the usual three variants to
specify the kind of end-of-line conversion to use.
In contrast, the coding system
no-conversion specifies no
character code conversion at all--none for non-ASCII byte values and
none for end of line. This is useful for reading or writing binary
files, tar files, and other files that must be examined verbatim. It,
The easiest way to edit a file with no conversion of any kind is with
the M-x find-file-literally command. This uses
no-conversion, and also suppresses other Emacs features that
might convert the file contents before you see them. See section Visiting Files.
The coding system
emacs-mule means that the file contains
non-ASCII characters stored with the internal Emacs encoding. It
handles end-of-line conversion based on the data encountered, and has
the usual three variants to specify the kind of end-of-line conversion.
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