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Using Vim as an outline processor

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created June 5, 2001 · complexity intermediate · author Steve Litt · version 6.0

With the addition of folding, Vim6 can function as a high performance outline processor. Simply :set ai and in insert mode use backspace to promote and tab to demote headlines.

In command mode, << promotes (n<< to promote multiple lines), and >> demotes. Also, highlight several headlines and < or > to promote or demote.

:set foldmethod=indent and then your z commands can expand or collapse headline trees, filewide or by the tree.


The VimOutliner GPL distro contains the scripts and configs to easily configure Vim6 as an outliner, including scripts to create tag files enabling interoutline hyperlinking.

The VimOutliner project is at


If you're interested in outlining in Vim, you should also check out my TVO (The Vim Outliner) plugin.

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