From Vim documentation:
Additionally the command CTRL-\ CTRL-N or <C-\><C-N> can be used to go to
Normal mode from any other mode.
So what is the difference between CTRL-\ and <C-\>?
Absolutely nothing. <C- > is vim's notation for holding Ctrl.
Both CTRL-\ and '<C-\>` refer to the same key combination, the only difference is notation. Since that documentation came from the introduction, the author probably want to make sure the reader understood what key combination was meant. See also:
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4 years ago