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The rectangle commands affect rectangular areas of text: all
characters between a certain pair of columns, in a certain range of
lines. Commands are provided to kill rectangles, yank killed
rectangles, clear them out, or delete them. Rectangle commands are
useful with text in multicolumnar formats, like code with comments at
the right, or for changing text into or out of such formats.
To specify the rectangle a command should work on, put the mark at
one corner and point at the opposite corner. The specified rectangle is
called the "region-rectangle" because it is controlled about the same
way the region is controlled. Remember that a given combination of
point and mark values can be interpreted either as specifying a region
or as specifying a rectangle; it is up to the command that uses them to
choose the interpretation.
Delete the text of the region-rectangle, moving any following text
on each line leftward to the left edge of the region-rectangle.
Similar, but also save the contents of the region-rectangle as the
"last killed rectangle".
Yank the last killed rectangle with its upper left corner at point.
Insert blank space to fill the space of the region-rectangle. The
previous contents of the region-rectangle are pushed rightward.
Clear the region-rectangle by replacing its contents with spaces.
The rectangle operations fall into two classes: commands deleting and
moving rectangles, and commands for blank rectangles.
There are two ways to get rid of the text in a rectangle: you can
discard the text (delete it) or save it as the "last killed" rectangle.
The commands for these two ways are `M-x delete-rectangle' and `M-x
kill-rectangle'. In either case, the portion of each line that falls
inside the rectangle's boundaries is deleted, causing following text
(if any) on the line to move left.
Note that "killing" a rectangle is not killing in the usual sense;
the rectangle is not stored in the kill ring, but in a special place
that only records the most recently killed rectangle (that is, does not
append to a killed rectangle). Different yank commands have to be used
and only one rectangle is stored, because yanking a rectangle is quite
different from yanking linear text and yank-popping commands are
difficult to make sense of.
Inserting a rectangle is the opposite of deleting one. You specify
where to put the upper left corner by putting point there. The
rectangle's first line is inserted at point, the rectangle's second line
is inserted at a point one line vertically down, and so on. The number
of lines affected is determined by the height of the saved rectangle.
To insert the last killed rectangle, type `M-x yank-rectangle'.
This can be used to convert single-column lists into double-column
lists; kill the second half of the list as a rectangle and then yank it
beside the first line of the list.
There are two commands for working with blank rectangles: `M-x
clear-rectangle' erases existing text, and `M-x open-rectangle' inserts
a blank rectangle. Clearing a rectangle is equivalent to deleting it
and then inserting a blank rectangle of the same size.
Rectangles can also be copied into and out of registers. *Note
Rectangle Registers: RegRect.
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