CLI inline markup

Command substitution

All text emitted by cli supports glue interpolation. Expressions enclosed by braces will be evaluated as R code. See glue::glue() for details.

In addition to regular glue interpolation, cli can also add classes to parts of the text, and these classes can be used in themes. For example

cli_text("This is {.emph important}.")

adds a class to the "important" word, class "emph". Note that in this case the string within the braces is usually not a valid R expression. If you want to mix classes with interpolation, add another pair of braces:

adjective <- "great"
cli_text("This is {.emph {adjective}}.")

An inline class will always create a span element internally. So in themes, you can use the span.emph CSS selector to change how inline text is emphasized:

cli_div(theme = list(span.emph = list(color = "red")))
adjective <- "nice and red"
cli_text("This is {.emph {adjective}}.")


The default theme defines the following inline classes:

  • emph for emphasized text.

  • strong for strong importance.

  • code for a piece of code.

  • pkg for a package name.

  • fun for a function name.

  • arg for a function argument.

  • key for a keyboard key.

  • file for a file name.

  • path for a path (essentially the same as file).

  • email for an email address.

  • url for a URL.

  • var for a variable name.

  • envvar for the name of an environment variable.

  • val for a "value".

See examples below.

You can simply add new classes by defining them in the theme, and then using them, see the example below.

Highlighting weird-looking values

Often it is useful to highlight a weird file or path name, e.g. one that starts or ends with space characters. The buildin theme does this for .file, .path and .email by default. You can highlight any string inline by adding the .q class to it.

The current highlighting algorithm

  • adds single quotes to the string if it does not start or end with an alphanumeric character, underscore, dot or forward slash.

  • Highlights the background colors of leading and trailing spaces on terminals that support ANSI colors.

Collapsing inline vectors

When cli performs inline text formatting, it automatically collapses glue substitutions, after formatting. This is handy to create lists of files, packages, etc. See examples below.

Formatting values

The val inline class formats values. By default (c.f. the builtin theme), it calls the cli_format() generic function, with the current style as the argument. See cli_format() for examples.

Escaping { and }

It might happen that you want to pass a string to cli_* functions, and you do not_ want command substitution in that string, because it might contain } and { characters. The simplest solution for this is referring to the string from a template:

msg <- "Error in if (ncol(dat$y)) {: argument is of length zero"

If you want to explicitly escape { and } characters, just double them:

cli_alert_warning("A warning with {{ braces }}")

See also examples below.


All cli commands that emit text support pluralization. Some examples:

cli_alert_info("Found {ndirs} diretor{?y/ies} and {nfiles} file{?s}.")
cli_text("Will install {length(pkgs)} package{?s}: {.pkg {pkgs}}")

See pluralization for details.


## Some inline markup examples cli_ul() cli_li("{.emph Emphasized} text")
#> Emphasized text
cli_li("{.strong Strong} importance")
#> Strong importance
cli_li("A piece of code: {.code sum(a) / length(a)}")
#> ─ A piece of code: `sum(a) / length(a)`
cli_li("A package name: {.pkg cli}")
#> ─ A package name: cli
cli_li("A function name: {.fn cli_text}")
#> ─ A function name: `cli_text()`
cli_li("A keyboard key: press {.kbd ENTER}")
#> ─ A keyboard key: press [ENTER]
cli_li("A file name: {.file /usr/bin/env}")
#> ─ A file name: /usr/bin/env
cli_li("An email address: {.email}")
#> ─ An email address:
cli_li("A URL: {.url}")
#> ─ A URL: <>
cli_li("An environment variable: {.envvar R_LIBS}")
#> ─ An environment variable: `R_LIBS`
cli_end() ## Adding a new class cli_div(theme = list( span.myclass = list(color = "lightgrey"), "span.myclass" = list(before = "["), "span.myclass" = list(after = "]"))) cli_text("This is {.myclass in brackets}.")
#> This is [in brackets].
cli_end() ## Collapsing pkgs <- c("pkg1", "pkg2", "pkg3") cli_text("Packages: {pkgs}.")
#> Packages: pkg1, pkg2, and pkg3.
cli_text("Packages: {.pkg {pkgs}}")
#> Packages: pkg1, pkg2, and pkg3
## Escaping msg <- "Error in if (ncol(dat$y)) {: argument is of length zero" cli_alert_warning("{msg}")
#> ! Error in if (ncol(dat$y)) {: argument is of length zero
cli_alert_warning("A warning with {{ braces }}")
#> ! A warning with { braces }