Automatic word wrapping

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created 2005 · complexity basic · author mmj · version 6.0


You can set the text width using :set textwidth=n (or :set tw=n) where n is a positive integer, for example:

:set tw=79

Also make sure that you have the "t" formatoption set!

:set formatoptions+=t

That will automatically wrap text as close to 79 characters as white space allows without exceeding the 79 character limit. This option wraps at word boundaries.

The textwidth option can be unset using:

:set tw=0

If you want to apply this to specific areas; bring the cursor at the beginning of the text you want to format and type gq. Now specify the range, say $ to format a large line.

:set wm=2

sets a wrap margin of 2 characters from the right window border. A system-dependent EOL character is inserted and the line wraps as you type. This option may be useful in some situations, but probably is not what you are looking for.

Use

gq

on a line or paragraph that is too long, and vim will wrap it automatically at your assigned textwidth.

The above methods will do a "hard" wrap of your text, by inserting newline characters. An alternative method is a "soft" wrap which does not change the text but simply displays it on multiple lines. This can be achieved with:

:set wrap linebreak nolist

Note that this may lead to a bunch of screen lines being taken up by only a single "real" line, so commands like j and k which move on real lines will skip over a lot of screen lines. You can use gj and gk to move by screen lines.

[edit] References

[edit] Comments

This doesn't work in vim7.3. I get no text wrapping with these options:

set

--- Options ---

 autoindent          hidden              scroll=42           tabstop=4
 background=dark     history=50          shiftwidth=4        textwidth=78
 comments=:#         hlsearch            showcmd             ttyfast
 commentstring=#%s   ignorecase          showmatch           ttymouse=xterm2
 define=[^A-Za-z_]   incsearch           smartcase           viminfo='20,"50
 expandtab           modified            smartindent         visualbell
 filetype=perl       pastetoggle=<F11>   softtabstop=4       t_Sb=^[[4%dm
 helplang=en         ruler               syntax=perl         t_Sf=^[[3%dm
 backspace=indent,eol,start
 errorformat=%f:%l:%m
 fileencoding=utf-8
 fileencodings=ucs-bom,utf-8,latin1
 formatoptions=bctloq
 guicursor=n-v-c:block,o:hor50,i-ci:hor15,r-cr:hor30,sm:block,a:blinkon0
 include=\<\(use\|require\)\>
 includeexpr=substitute(substitute(v:fname,'::','/','g'),'$','.pm',)
 indentexpr=GetPerlIndent()
 indentkeys=0{,0},:,0#,!^F,o,O,e,0=,0),0],0=or,0=and
 isfname=@,48-57,/,.,-,_,+,,,#,$,%,~,=,:
 keywordprg=perldoc -f

This feature has worked for many years in every version of Vim since it was introduced. What were you expecting to happen? What happened instead? With the settings above, you should see the text automatically reflow whenever you type text that goes beyond the 78th column. But just setting these options won't automatically wrap anything until you type. And when it does wrap, it will do so by inserting newlines. --Fritzophrenic (talk) 18:11, July 10, 2015 (UTC)


The problem turned out to be that I had to remove the 'l' (lowercase L) from formatoptions before word-wrapping would work. -- 14:51, July 13, 2015 (UTC)

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