I am using Vim + LaTeX-Suite plugin to write LaTeX source file. I noticed that LaTeX-Suite would automatically italicize characters in \textit.

Text inside <code>\textit</code> get visually italicized

Is there a way to enable this behavior for \emph as well?

1 Answer 1


Note that, unlike \textit, \emph acts as a switch to indicate emphasis. So when used in regular text \emph is by default defined as italics, but within already emphasized text \emph switches back to upright. Therefore it is not fully semantically correct to highlight \emph as italics in the editor.

However, it can be done without too much trouble. The highlighting comes from Vim itself, not from Latex-Suite. The syntax highlighting definitions are stored in a directory similar to /usr/share/vim/vim80/syntax (the exact location can be different depending on your installation method and version). In the file tex.vim the highlighting for LaTeX is defined. Vim can read additional highlighting definitions from files placed in ~/.vim/after/syntax. So you can copy the relevant definitions for \textit from the original tex.vim files, substitute \emph and save this as an additional file in the /after/syntax directory.

In the following file the first two blocks are copied from the original tex.vim to define the variables tex_fast and tex_conceal, the third block contains the actual definitions for \emph. Note that I did not implement bold+emphasized combinations.


" by default, enable all region-based highlighting
let s:tex_fast= "bcmMprsSvV"
if exists("g:tex_fast")
 if type(g:tex_fast) != 1
  " g:tex_fast exists and is not a string, so
  " turn off all optional region-based highighting
  let s:tex_fast= ""
  let s:tex_fast= g:tex_fast

" let user determine which classes of concealment will be supported
"   a=accents/ligatures d=delimiters m=math symbols  g=Greek  s=superscripts/subscripts
if !exists("g:tex_conceal")
 let s:tex_conceal= 'abdmgsS'
 let s:tex_conceal= g:tex_conceal

" particular support for emph {{{1
if s:tex_fast =~# 'b'
  if s:tex_conceal =~# 'b'
   if !exists("g:tex_nospell") || !g:tex_nospell
    syn region texItalStyle matchgroup=texTypeStyle start="\\emph\s*{" matchgroup=texTypeStyle  end="}" concealends contains=@texItalGroup,@Spell
    syn region texItalStyle matchgroup=texTypeStyle start="\\emph\s*{" matchgroup=texTypeStyle  end="}" concealends contains=@texItalGroup

Screenshot from Vim:

enter image description here

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