Vim: Do Repeat Yourself

Do yourself a favour: learn how and what you can repeat in Vim. I'm tired of people looking at me like I'm a wizard when I make an edit and repeat it a bunch of times with .. This happens a lot with document types that are naturally repetitive -- HTML for example.

It's easy to get the hang of. Let's say you've got this:

<p>This is a story all about how,</p>
<p>My life got flipped, turned upside down,
<p>And I'd like to take a minute just sit right there,</p>
<p>I'll tell you all about why my Vim skills are rare

If I typed </p> and then pressed . at the end of the second line, it would add a paragraph tag. You can keep pressing . wherever needed.

The essence of the . command is it repeats the last change. What's a change? Typing text in Insert mode is a change. Once you press escape to go back to Normal mode, you can repeat what you just typed with . -- but other Normal mode changes can be repeated as well.

These so-called "simple changes" are documented in :help simple-change. Some examples that you probably already use are r for replacing a character, ~ for switching case, and >> for indenting text.

You can even repeat indentation with =. In the following example, I could move the cursor to the first curly brace, then press =% to indent up to the matching brace. Then I could move the cursor to the next { and repeat the change with ..

function a() {

function b() {


With the standard Vim distribution = knows how to indent that entire example, but if you're using non-standard indentation rules in some sections or have code that won't behave, it can be useful to repeat chunks of auto-indent where needed.

Remember: you can combine changes with motions and repeat the whole thing!

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