Mode reference


Types of attributes values in this reference:

identifier String suitable to be used as a Javascript variable and CSS class name (i.e. mostly /[A-Za-z0-9_]+/)
regexp String representing a Javascript regexp. Note that since it’s not a literal regexp all back-slashes should be repeated twice
boolean Javascript boolean: true or false
number Javascript number
object Javascript object: { ... }
array Javascript array: [ ... ]



type: boolean

Case insensitivity of language keywords and regexps. Used only on the top-level mode.


type: array

A list of additional names (besides the canonical one given by the filename) that can be used to identify a language in HTML classes and in a call to getLanguage.


type: identifier

The name of the mode. It is used as a class name in HTML markup.

Multiple modes can have the same name. This is useful when a language has multiple variants of syntax for one thing like string in single or double quotes.


type: regexp

Regular expression starting a mode. For example a single quote for strings or two forward slashes for C-style comments. If absent, begin defaults to a regexp that matches anything, so the mode starts immediately.


type: regexp

Regular expression ending a mode. For example a single quote for strings or “$” (end of line) for one-line comments.

It’s often the case that a beginning regular expression defines the entire mode and doesn’t need any special ending. For example a number can be defined with begin: "\\b\\d+" which spans all the digits.

If absent, end defaults to a regexp that matches anything, so the mode ends immediately.

Sometimes a mode can end not by itself but implicitly with its containing (parent) mode. This is achieved with endsWithParent attribute.


type: string

Used instead of begin for modes starting with keywords to avoid needless repetition:

  begin: '\\b(extends|implements) ',
  keywords: 'extends implements'

… becomes:

  beginKeywords: 'extends implements'

Unlike the keywords attribute, this one allows only a simple list of space separated keywords. If you do need additional features of keywords or you just need more keywords for this mode you may include keywords along with beginKeywords.


type: boolean

A flag showing that a mode ends when its parent ends.

This is best demonstrated by example. In CSS syntax a selector has a set of rules contained within symbols “{” and “}”. Individual rules separated by ”;” but the last one in a set can omit the terminating semicolon:

p {
  width: 100%; color: red

This is when endsWithParent comes into play:

  className: 'rules', begin: '{', end: '}',
  contains: [
    {className: 'rule', /* ... */ end: ';', endsWithParent: true}


type: boolean

Forces closing of the parent mode right after the current mode is closed.

This is used for modes that don’t have an easily expressible ending lexeme but instead could be closed after the last interesting sub-mode is found.

Here’s an example with two ways of defining functions in Elixir, one using a keyword do and another using a comma:

def foo :clear, list do

def foo, do: IO.puts "hello world"

Note that in the first case the parameter list after the function title may also include a comma. And iIf we’re only interested in highlighting a title we can tell it to end the function definition after itself:

  className: 'function',
  beginKeywords: 'def', end: /\B\b/,
  contains: [
      className: 'title',
      begin: hljs.IDENT_RE, endsParent: true

(The end: /\B\b/ regex tells function to never end by itself.)


type: regexp

A regular expression that extracts individual lexemes from language text to find keywords among them. Default value is hljs.IDENT_RE which works for most languages.


type: object

Keyword definition comes in two forms:

  • 'for while if else weird_voodoo|10 ... ' – a string of space-separated keywords with an optional relevance over a pipe
  • {'keyword': ' ... ', 'literal': ' ... '} – an object whose keys are names of different kinds of keywords and values are keyword definition strings in the first form

For detailed explanation see Language definition guide.


type: regexp

A regular expression that defines symbols illegal for the mode. When the parser finds a match for illegal expression it immediately drops parsing the whole language altogether.

excludeBegin, excludeEnd

type: boolean

Exclude beginning or ending lexemes out of mode’s generated markup. For example in CSS syntax a rule ends with a semicolon. However visually it’s better not to color it as the rule contents. Having excludeEnd: true forces a <span> element for the rule to close before the semicolon.


type: boolean

Returns just found beginning lexeme back into parser. This is used when beginning of a sub-mode is a complex expression that should not only be found within a parent mode but also parsed according to the rules of a sub-mode.

Since the parser is effectively goes back it’s quite possible to create a infinite loop here so use with caution!


type: boolean

Returns just found ending lexeme back into parser. This is used for example to parse Javascript embedded into HTML. A Javascript block ends with the HTML closing tag </script> that cannot be parsed with Javascript rules. So it is returned back into its parent HTML mode that knows what to do with it.

Since the parser is effectively goes back it’s quite possible to create a infinite loop here so use with caution!


type: array

The list of sub-modes that can be found inside the mode. For detailed explanation see Language definition guide.


type: identifier

The name of the mode that will start right after the current mode ends. The new mode won’t be contained within the current one.

Currently this attribute is used to highlight Javascript and CSS contained within HTML. Tags <script> and <style> start sub-modes that use another language definition to parse their contents (see subLanguage).


type: array

Modification to the main definitions of the mode, effectively expanding it into several similar modes each having all the attributes from the main definition augmented or overridden by the variants:

  className: 'string',
  contains: [hljs.BACKSLASH_ESCAPE],
  relevance: 0,
  variants: [
    {begin: /"/, end: /"/},
    {begin: /'/, end: /'/, relevance: 1}


type: string or array

Highlights the entire contents of the mode with another language.

When using this attribute there’s no point to define internal parsing rules like lexemes or keywords. Also it is recommended to skip className attribute since the sublanguage will wrap the text in its own <span class="language-name">.

The value of the attribute controls which language or languages will be used for highlighting:

  • language name: explicit highlighting with the specified language
  • empty array: auto detection with all the languages available
  • array of language names: auto detection constrained to the specified set