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Repeating an ex command on multiple blocks

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Tip 1118 Printable Monobook Previous Next

created 2006 · complexity intermediate · author hari_vim · version 6.0

You can use the g// global command to repeat an Ex command on each block of lines in a file. This technique is useful because you don't need a macro, and the command is retained in history for reuse, possibly after editing.

For example, suppose you want to sort each block of text in a file, and you have a blank line before and after each block (including one before the first block, and one after the last block).

You can sort a single block after the cursor position using the command:


This applies the :sort command to a block of lines defined by a range. The first line in the range is the blank line next after the cursor, and the last line is just before (-1) the blank line after that. You must use ; (not ,). See :help :;.

The following uses the global command to sort each block in the file:


The pattern /^\s*$/ is used to find blank lines, including those consisting of only whitespace (\s). The second pattern (//) is empty, so the first pattern is repeated (search for next blank line).


For the address part you can use '}. '{ and '} find paragraph boundaries.

It would be nice to have shortcuts for these patterns:

\(\%^\|^\n\)\@<=\(.\)\@= : paragraph start
\(.\)\@<=\(\%$\|\n$\)\@= : pragraph end

In normal mode, you can use "Vip:".

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