Tip 1166 Printable Monobook Previous Next

created 2006 · complexity basic · author Robert Stovall · version 7.0

Vim has a very powerful built-in sort utility, or it can interface with an external one. In order to keep only unique lines in Vim, you would:

:{range}sort u

Yes, it's that simple.

You could create a range in advance, such as 'a,. (from mark 'a' to the current line) or you could create one on-the-fly using visual selection by pressing ':' in visual mode, after selecting the text you wish to sort, to get a range of '<,'> on the command line.

If you like using an external sort utility instead, you can do it just as easily. For example, Unix sort, removing duplicate lines:

:{range}!sort -u

Many other systems also have an external sort utility, but the options and capabilities will differ. It is probably better to use the built-in Vim sort unless you are looking for a specific feature of the external sort (or using an old Vim without the :sort command).


Sort in reverseEdit


Sort, removing duplicate linesEdit

:%sort u

Sort using the external Unix sort utility, respecting month-name orderEdit

:%!sort -M

("respecting month-name order" means January < February < ... < December)

Numeric sortEdit

:sort n

(this way, 100 doesn't precede 20 in the sort)

Sort subsections independently, in this example sort numbers between "start" and "end" markersEdit

:g/start/+1,/end/-1 sort n

Sort only specific lines using ranges Edit

sort lines 296 to 349, inclusive


See alsoEdit




  • Probably need some general :sort command info.
  • Give examples of numeric sort and using regex sort.
  • Clean up my "see also" list. It's useful now for a comprehensive list of related tips, some of which need work. At least should add a note on point of tip.
  • If we're going to mention an external sort tool, we may as well include the following with a brief explanation. Vim could do this, but only with a complex regex. Or perhaps better, mention it in VimTip374 or VimTip923 in "see also". -k2 sorts on the second field (word by default).
:!sort -k2

This misguided snippet was added recently:

delimit the column using some char here I have | symbol as delimiter, once did with that you can use below command to sort specific column use -n if u want to sort numeric and its working on some version of vi and not on ubuntu vi :(
/|.*|/ | sort
used to match a patern |.*| used to match words delimited between || and | as piping commend and sort to sort

This is wrong and should never work. Here's what it is actually doing:

/|.*|/: jump to the next line that has two '|' characters in it, anywhere

|: command separator, this lets you start a new command on the current line

sort: do a default sort of the entire buffer

Basically this is the equivalent of typing :%sort.

Now, what you CAN do, is provide a pattern that the :sort command will skip over and ignore at the start of every line while sorting. For example, to sort based only on text after the last '|' character on the line (what I think was intended by the example), you'd do this:

:sort /^.*|/

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