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The Diary File

Your diary file is a file that records events associated with particular dates. The name of the diary file is specified by the variable diary-file; `~/diary' is the default. The calendar utility program supports a subset of the format allowed by the Emacs diary facilities, so you can use that utility to view the diary file, with reasonable results aside from the entries it cannot understand.

Each entry in the diary file describes one event and consists of one or more lines. An entry always begins with a date specification at the left margin. The rest of the entry is simply text to describe the event. If the entry has more than one line, then the lines after the first must begin with whitespace to indicate they continue a previous entry. Lines that do not begin with valid dates and do not continue a preceding entry are ignored.

You can inhibit the marking of certain diary entries in the calendar window; to do this, insert an ampersand (`&') at the beginning of the entry, before the date. This has no effect on display of the entry in the diary window; it affects only marks on dates in the calendar window. Nonmarking entries are especially useful for generic entries that would otherwise mark many different dates.

If the first line of a diary entry consists only of the date or day name with no following blanks or punctuation, then the diary window display doesn't include that line; only the continuation lines appear. For example, this entry:

      Bill B. visits Princeton today
      2pm Cognitive Studies Committee meeting
      2:30-5:30 Liz at Lawrenceville
      4:00pm Dentist appt
      7:30pm Dinner at George's
      8:00-10:00pm concert

appears in the diary window without the date line at the beginning. This style of entry looks neater when you display just a single day's entries, but can cause confusion if you ask for more than one day's entries.

You can edit the diary entries as they appear in the window, but it is important to remember that the buffer displayed contains the entire diary file, with portions of it concealed from view. This means, for instance, that the C-f (forward-char) command can put point at what appears to be the end of the line, but what is in reality the middle of some concealed line.

Be careful when editing the diary entries! Inserting additional lines or adding/deleting characters in the middle of a visible line cannot cause problems, but editing at the end of a line may not do what you expect. Deleting a line may delete other invisible entries that follow it. Before editing the diary, it is best to display the entire file with s (show-all-diary-entries).

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