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GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual

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8.4 Property Lists

A property list (plist for short) is a list of paired elements stored in the property list cell of a symbol. Each of the pairs associates a property name (usually a symbol) with a property or value. Property lists are generally used to record information about a symbol, such as its documentation as a variable, the name of the file where it was defined, or perhaps even the grammatical class of the symbol (representing a word) in a language-understanding system.

Character positions in a string or buffer can also have property lists. See section 32.19 Text Properties.

The property names and values in a property list can be any Lisp objects, but the names are usually symbols. Property list functions compare the property names using eq. Here is an example of a property list, found on the symbol progn when the compiler is loaded:

(lisp-indent-function 0 byte-compile byte-compile-progn)

Here lisp-indent-function and byte-compile are property names, and the other two elements are the corresponding values.

8.4.1 Property Lists and Association Lists  Comparison of the advantages of property lists and association lists.
8.4.2 Property List Functions for Symbols  Functions to access symbols' property lists.
8.4.3 Property Lists Outside Symbols  Accessing property lists stored elsewhere.

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