8.8 Continuation Lines
If you add too many characters to one line without breaking it with
<RET>, the line grows to occupy two (or more) lines on the screen.
On graphical displays, Emacs indicates line wrapping with small bent
arrows in the fringes to the left and right of the window. On
text-only terminals, Emacs displays a ‘\’ character at the right
margin of a screen line if it is not the last in its text line. This
‘\’ character says that the following screen line is not really a
distinct line in the text, just a continuation of a line too
long to fit the screen. Continuation is also called line
When line wrapping occurs before a character that is wider than one
column, some columns at the end of the previous screen line may be
“empty.” In this case, Emacs displays additional ‘\’
characters in the “empty” columns, just before the ‘\’
character that indicates continuation.
Sometimes it is nice to have Emacs insert newlines automatically when
a line gets too long. Continuation on the screen does not do that. Use
Auto Fill mode (see Filling) if that's what you want.
As an alternative to continuation, Emacs can display long lines by
truncation. This means that all the characters that do not fit
in the width of the screen or window do not appear at all. ‘$’
in the last column or a small straight arrow in the fringe to the
right of the window indicates a truncated line.
See Display Custom, for more information about line truncation,
and other variables that affect how text is displayed.