Syntax Definitions (Legacy)


In Sublime Text 3.0 (Build 3084), a new syntax definition format has been added, with the .sublime-syntax extension.

It is highly encouraged to be used in favor of the legacy format described in this document, unless compatibility with older versions or other editors using this format is desired.

See the official documentation (opens new window) for details.

This document describes the old .tmLanguage format inherited from TextMate.

# File Format

TextMate syntax definitions are Plist files with the .tmLanguage extension. However, for convenience in this reference document, YAML is shown instead.

Additionally, Sublime Text also understands the .hidden-tmLanguage extension, which can not be selected by the user but only by set by plugins. "Find in Files" makes use of this. The downsite is that these can not be included by import statements in other language definitions.

name: Sublime Snippet (Raw)
scopeName: source.ssraw
fileTypes: [ssraw]
uuid: 0da65be4-5aac-4b6f-8071-1aadb970b8d9

  - comment: Tab stops like $1, $2...
    name: keyword.other.ssraw
    match: \$\d+

  - comment: Variables like $PARAM1, $TM_SELECTION...
    name: keyword.other.ssraw
    match: \$([A-Za-z][A-Za-z0-9_]+)
      '1': {name: constant.numeric.ssraw}

  - name: variable.complex.ssraw
    begin: '(\$)(\{)([0-9]+):'
      '1': {name: keyword.other.ssraw}
      '3': {name: constant.numeric.ssraw}
    end: \}
      - include: $self
      - name: support.other.ssraw
        match: .

  - name: constant.character.escape.ssraw
    match: \\[$<>]

  - name: invalid.illegal.ssraw
    match: '[$<>]'

Descriptive name for the syntax definition. Shows up in the syntax definition dropdown menu located in the bottom right of the Sublime Text interface. It's usually the name of the programming language or equivalent.


Name of the topmost scope for this syntax definition. Either source.<lang> or text.<lang>. Use source for programming languages and text for markup and everything else.


This is a list of file extensions (without the leading dot). When opening files of these types, Sublime Text will automatically activate this syntax definition for them. Optional.


Unique indentifier for this syntax definition. Currently ignored.


Array of patterns to match against the buffer's text.


Array of patterns abstracted out from the patterns element. Useful to keep the syntax definition tidy as well as for specialized uses like recursive patterns or re-using the same pattern. Optional.

# Patterns Array

A pattern is a mapping in one of the following formats:


Contains the following elements:

Element Description
match Pattern to search for.
name Optional. Scope name to be assigned to matches of match.
comment Optional. For information only.
captures Optional. Refinement of match. See below.

In turn, captures can contain n of the following pairs of elements (note that 0 refers to the whole match):

Capture Description
0..n Name of the group referenced. Must be a string.
name Scope to be assigned to the group.


# Simple

- comment: Sequences like \$, \> and \<
  name: constant.character.escape.ssraw
  match: \\[$<>]

# With captures

- comment: Tab stops like $1, $2...
  name: keyword.other.ssraw
  match: \$(\d+)
    '1': {name: constant.numeric.ssraw}

Includes an item from the repository, another syntax definitions or the current one.


Include Description
$self The current syntax definition.
#itemName itemName in the repository.
source.js External syntax definitions.


# Requires presence of DoubleQuotedStrings element in the repository.
- include: '#DoubleQuotedStrings'

# Recursively includes the complete current syntax definition.
- include: $self

# Includes and external syntax definition.
- include: source.js

Defines a scope potentially spanning multiple lines. Contains the following elements (only begin and end are required):

Scope Description
name Scope name for the content including the markers.
contentName Scope name for the content excluding the markers.
begin The start marker pattern.
end The end marker pattern.
name Scope name for the whole region.
beginCaptures captures for begin. See captures.
endCaptures captures for end. See captures.
patterns Array of patterns to be matched against the content.


name: variable.complex.ssraw
begin: '(\$)(\{)([0-9]+):'
  '1': {name: keyword.other.ssraw}
  '3': {name: constant.numeric.ssraw}
end: \}
- include: $self
- name: support.other.ssraw
  match: .

# Repository

A repository defines items that can be referenced from a patterns array (global or within a begin..end pattern) via an include pattern.

A repository item may be a single pattern or an array of patterns.


      - name: constant.numeric.double.powershell
        match: \d*(?<!\.)(\.)\d+(d)?(mb|kb|gb)?
          '1': {name: support.constant.powershell}
          '2': {name: support.constant.powershell}
          '3': {name: keyword.other.powershell}
      - name: constant.numeric.powershell
        match: (?<!\w)\d+(d)?(mb|kb|gb)?(?!\w)
          '1': {name: support.constant.powershell}
          '2': {name: keyword.other.powershell}

    name: meta.scriptblock.powershell
    begin: \{
    end: \}
      - include: $self

# Escape Sequences

Be sure to escape JSON/XML sequences as needed.

For YAML, additionally make sure that you didn't unintentionally start a new scalar by not using quotes for your strings. Examples that won't work as expected:

match: [aeiou]

include: #this-is-actually-a-comment

match: "#"\w+"" # contains double quotation marks

Use single quotes in these situations:

match: '[aeiou]'

include: '#this-is-actually-a-comment'

match: '#"\w+'