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Multiple line paragraphs in vim

Paragraphs in vim


Yesterday we moved around paragraphs of a single line.

Paragraphs are not always a single line.

Open this excerpt from War and Peace.

It's filled with multiple-line paragraphs.

We can move multiple-line paragraphs as they are.

A better solution is to make them single lines.

Before we do that, let's make sure we'll be able to see them!

Vim does not wrap text by default.

Type : to enter command mode.

Type set wrap <Enter> to make sure that long lines wrap.

Vim might break in the middle of words too.

Type : to enter command mode.

Type set linebreak <Enter> to make sure vim breaks at spaces.

To join lines, use J. (Just J, not the period!)

With your cursor on the first line of the first paragraph, type J to join the first and second lines. Type another J to join with the next line. When you reach the blank line, leave it. Always leave a space between paragraphs in vim. Move to the next paragraph with j, and join those lines with J. Continue until every paragraph in the document is a single line.

Now you can move the paragraphs with dj and p.


Moving multiple-line paragraphs


The commands { and } move to the beginning and end of paragraphs respectively.

Type u repeatedly to unjoin the paragraph lines we just joined.

Put the cursor on the first line of a multiple line paragraph.

Type d} to delete the paragraph.

Use j or k to move up or down in the document.

Use p to put the paragraph where you want.

Work with single line paragraphs in vim


Multiple line paragraphs result from typesetting.

The breaks are meaningless in terms of language.

They make the paragraphs tough to edit in vim.

Work with single line paragraphs in vim!

Format your document in a word processor after you write, not before.

Write -> Edit -> (Rewrite -> Reedit) [vim] -> Format [word processor]

If you have a work in progress you want to import to vim, use J to make single line paragraphs.

.vimrc file


You likely have a file called .vimrc on your computer.

If not, you can create it.

Where it is depends on your system.

On my system, Debian Linux, it's in my home directory.

Find .vimrc on your system.

Type vim .vimrc to open it.

If it's not there, find out where it should be.

Look at your system documentation.

If you can't figure out where it should be, create it in your home directory.

Type vim .vimrc to open an empty file called .vimrc.

.vimrc contains your personal settings for vim.

Hit i to enter insert mode.

Type three new lines:

set wrap
set linebreak
imap jj <Esc> 

Hit <Esc> to go to normal mode.

Hit : to go to command line mode, and type wq <Enter>.

:wq is the command for "write and quit."

The first two lines were the wrap and linebreak commands we used earlier today.

If they're in .vimrc, vim will wrap and break lines by default.

The third line sets jj as an alternative to <Esc>.

Many people prefer jj to <Esc> as jj is easier to reach.

If you type jj quickly, it works as <Esc>. Slowly, it is jj.

Unless your initials are jj, you probably don't use jj much!

If you do, change jj to any little used key sequence you like in .vimrc.

You can still use <Esc> even with jj mapped to it. 

People keep their .vimrc files for years and build up tons of personal customizations.

You can put macros in .vimrc, color preferences, and settings.


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