Vim: Advanced Cheat Sheet

Moving in a Document from Normal Mode

Full documentation at: :h motion.txt.

Word Movements

A word is a sequence of characters or digits plus the underscore character. A WORD is a sequence of characters separated with any kind of spaces.

Keystrokes Movement
w/W Forward to start of next word / WORD
b/B Backward to start of previous word / WORD
e/E Forward to end of next word / WORD
ge/gE Backward to end of next word / WORD

Character-Search Movements

Documentation at: :h f.

Keystrokes Movement
f{char} Forward to the next occurence of char
F{char} Backward to the previous occurence of char
t{char} Forward to the character before the next occurence of char
T{char} Backward to the character after the previous occurence of char
; Repeat the last Character-search movement
, Reverse the last Character-search movement

Text Objects

Not used to move the cursor, but useful as a motion within a command. Documentation at: :h text-objects

Keystrokes Movement
iw/iW Current word/WORD
aw/aW Current word/WORD plus one space
is Current sentence
as Current sentence plus one space
is Current paragraph
as Current paragraph plus one space

The following Text Objects interact with pair delimiters like ‘”’, ‘)’ or ‘}’.

Keystrokes Movement
a) or ab A pair of parentheses
i) or ib Inside a pair of parentheses
a} or aB A pair of braces
i} or iB Inside a pair of braces
a] A pair of square brackets
i] Inside a pair of square brackets
a> A pair of angle brackets
i> Inside a pair of angle brackets
a' A pair of single quotes
i' Inside a pair of single quotes
a" A pair of double quotes
i" Inside a pair of double quotes
a` A pair of backticks
i` Inside a pair of backticks
at A pair of xml tags
it Inside a pair of xml tags


All the motion described above can be used with operators to modify the file from the Normal Mode.

Keystrokes Ex command Action
c :change Change: delete + swith to Insert Mode
d :delete Delete
y :yank Yank into register
g~   Swap case
gu   To lower case
gU   To upper case
>   Shift right
<   Shift left
=   Auto-indent


  • daw : Delete A Word
  • ci] : Delete what is inside of square brackets and switch to Insert Mode
  • =i} : Auto indent the content of {…}

Compound commands

Compound command Equivalent Action
C c$ Change until the end of the line
s cl Change the letter under the cursor
S ^C Change the current line
I ^i Insert at the begining of the line
A $a Insert at the end of the line
o A<CR> Insert a new line after the current line
O ko Insert a new line before the current line


Documentation at :h jump.

Basic Jumps

Keystrokes Jump description
{number}G Jump to the line number
% Jump to the matching parentheses
( / ) Jump to previous/next sentence
{ / } Jump to previous/next paragraph
H / M / L Jump to the top / middle / bottom of the screen

Marked Jumps

A user has access to 52 markers corresponding to the alphabetic lower and upper case characters: [a-zA-Z]. There other marks described latter.

Documentation at: :h Mark.

Basic Marks

Keystrokes Jump description
m{a-zA-Z} Set mark at cursor position
`{mark} Move the cursor to the exact position of the mark mark
'{mark} Move the cursor to the begin of the line where the mark mark was defined

Automatic Marks

Mark Function
` Location before the last jump
. Location of the last change
[ Start of the last change or yank
] End of the last change or yank
< Start of the last visual selection
> End of the last visual selection

History of the jumps are accessible thanks to the Ex command :jump.

Keystrokes Description
<C-o> Backward through the history of jumps.
<C-i> Foreward through the history of jumps.

Visual Mode

Documentation at: :h visual-mode.

Enter Visual Mode

Keystrokes Description
v Enter visual mode characterwise
V Enter visual mode linewise
C-v Enter visual mode blockwise
gv Reselect the last visual selection

Exit Visual Mode

Keystrokes Description
<ESC> Exit visual mode
v Exit visual from visual mode characterwise
V Exit visual from visual mode linewise
C-v Exit visual from visual mode blockwise

Switch Visual Mode Type

Keystrokes Description
v Switch to visual characterwise from line/block wise
V Switch to visual linewise from character/block wise
C-v Switch to visual block from character/line wise

Operations in Visual Mode

Keystrokes Description
~/d/y Switch case/Delete/Yank… See :h visual-operators
o Go to other end of highlighted selection

Insert Mode

Keystrokes Description
<C-h> Like backspace
<C-w> Delete the previous word
<C-u> Remove the current line (like in shell)
<C-o> Switch to Insert Normal Mode
<C-v>{code} Insert special character by its code
<C-k>{char1}{char2} Insert special character by digraph


  • In french, to insert ‘œ’ simply type: <C-k>oe.
  • The ‘ù’ letter in french is only used in one word but has its own key. You can also use <C-k>`u.


Documentation at: :h reg.

User’s registers ([a-z]) are called Named Register. They are accessible:

  • from Normal Mode with " (e.g. "ay will yank into register a)
  • from Insert/CmdLine/Replace Modes with <C-r>{register}

Special Registers

Register Meaning
" Unnamed register is the default register.
_ Black Hole register: putting something in it is lost.
0 By default, yanking operation fills this register.
1..9 The history of the delete/yank is stored in these registers.
+ System Clipboard Register.
* System Clipboard Register.
= Expression Register.
% Name of the current file.
/ Last search command.
: Last Ex command.
. Last inserted text.


  • In Insert Mode, <C-=>5*6<CR> will display ‘30’.
  • To definitively delete something you can use "_d.
  • To paste something in Vim for your OS Clipboard, "*p.


Documentation at: :h complex-repeat.

Keystrokes Description
q{register} Start recording a macro in register
q{REGISTER} Amend the register (use uppercase named register)
@{register} Play the macro in register

Search and Substitute

Documentation at :h /.

Keystrokes Description
/{pattern}<CR> Search forward pattern.
?{pattern}<CR> Search backward pattern.
n Next matching element.
N Previous matching element.
/\v{pattern}<CR> Search forward pattern in very magic mode.
/\V{text}<CR> Search forward the exact text.
/<CR> Search forward last pattern.


Documentation at: :h substitute.


Keystrokes Description
:s/old/new Substitute the first matching old into new in the current line
:s/old/new/g Substitute all the matching old into new in the current line.
:%s/old/new/g Substitute all the matching old into new in the current file.
:%s/old/new/gc Substitute all the matching old into new in the current file with confirmation request.
:5,8s/old/new/g Substitute all the matching old into new between line 5 and 8.

Side note: When in Visual Mode, pressing : will automatically fill the range corresponding to the select block of text.


Substitute in several files
  1. Fill the args with the list of file to modify: :args **/*.cpp.
  2. Apply the substitution: :argdo %s/old/new/g.
Convert from CamelCase to underscore_case

The trick is to use:

  • the \l (lowercase ‘L’). Documentation at: :h \l.
  • the \1, \2… syntax. Documentation at: :h pattern.

This gives the following command: :%s/\v(\l)(\u)/\1_\l\2/gc.