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Simple text alignment

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created August 23, 2002 · complexity basic · author Jahagirdar Vijayvithal S · version 5.7

Some times one would like to reformat text like:



a          =1;
foo        =2;
longstring =1;
c          =2;

This is how we achieve it


This is what it does

0 goes to first column
f= finds next occurrence of = on current line
20i<Space><Esc> inserts 20 spaces before =
0 goes back to first column
20l forward 20 column
vf=hx deletes everything up to the = sign


Any lining up, alignment, etc - just leave it to Dr. Chip Campbell's Align.vim (search for it here)

I see a BIG drawback! What will it do in the following case?

int my_very_informative_variable_name = 0;

the result will be:

int my_very_informat= 0;

The correct way to solve this problem is to find the longest var in the list (selected lines) and align accordingly.

Some mappings and a python script for alignment.


  • humans can understand python


  • you need to have a python interpreter on your box
  • it's not as sophisticated as dr. chips script

You can save a couple keystrokes without visual mode.


And a couple more by using the goto-column movement :help bar:


And finally, you can fire off something like

:11,32norm 0f=20i<Space><ctrl-v><Esc>d20|

to do this for a bunch of lines.


works well of you have softtabs set to use spaces. (Or using :retab)

This will align based on next tab columns. Neat enough for me.

Personally I'd shell out and use column for this, but obviously requires having column installed!!

:'<'>! column -ts=

Allow me to make a small but important modification to the last command:

:'<'>! column -ts= -o=

Otherwise, the "=" sign would be removed from the output. It's a very good replacement for the Tabularize plugin! At least for simple stuff like that.

If you don't mind using up a bookmark, you can align the equals sign on the current line at the current cursor position using the following magic:

:nnoremap ,= mc0f=80i<Space><Esc>`cdt=j

Here's how it works.

mc Stores the cursor position in bookmark "c" (you can choose a different slot)
0  Goes to start of line
f= finds next (first) occurrence of = on current line
80i<Space><Esc> inserts 80 spaces before =
`c Returns to bookmark (` positions by both line and column)
dt= Deletes up to the character before the =
j Goes down 1 line (optional)

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