In Vim, the J key joins two lines together. Is there a similar, built-in, key combination to split lines with a newline (at the cursor position, or similar)?

Alternatively, what would be the most robust way to define a key combination to do that (in normal mode, not insert mode)?


No, there's no built-in command for that.

When I want to split on a <Space>, I do r<CR>.

--- EDIT ---

@keith-nicholas' comment reminded me about this question. FWIW I came up with an hopefully "universal" method in the mean time:

function! BreakHere()
    call histdel("/", -1)

nnoremap <key> :<C-u>call BreakHere()<CR>
  • 4
    Using r<CR> is simply clever! Thanks! – Marcelo Apr 8 '17 at 13:33
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    that's great! super annoying going into insert to insert lines – Keith Nicholas Jul 13 '17 at 4:06
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    I found s<CR> keeps indentation whereas r<CR> does not. – toxefa Mar 1 '19 at 11:41

a Enter Esc to split to the right of the cursor, or i Enter Esc to split to the left.

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    That is it. Just insert a single newline. Alternatively: use r+<return> to replace the character under the cursor with a newline. Would be nice to have a single letter command for it, but as far as I know there isn't one. – Tonny Jun 24 '13 at 15:23

The easiest way I've found to split lines in Vim is the normal mode command gq (type both letters in quick succession in normal or visual mode):

  • In visual mode, it will split whatever is selected.
  • In normal mode, you follow gq with a motion.

For example, gql will split one line to the currently set width. To set the width of the split lines to be different from your current setting, you can use

:set textwidth=<n>

Where n=number of characters you want in a line, e.g., 10, and change back to your normal width when you're done.

Got this information from a Youtube video by Kholidfu that shows how to join and split lines in normal mode using a motion: Vim Tutorial - Join and Split Lines.


You could define your own using map. To define z as the command for example:

:map z i<CTRL+m>

You can record a macro:

in normal mode type "q+" to start the record. press "i", the macro you want to record. then press "q" again to stop recording.

to use the macro go to normal mode and type "@+letter".

in my case I used the "b" to use this macro: to record type in normal mode "qbiq" to use type in normal mode "@b"


Here are a few tips and starting points, with some overlap on existing answers:

  • wrap current line after 70+ characters (on a word boundary): :s/.\{-70,\} */&^M/g
    • note: {-70,} is the non-greedy quantifier
    • the ^M is ctrl+v ctrl+m (a "return")
    • prefix with % to operate on the whole file, e.g., :%s/.\{-70,\} */&^M/g
    • create mappings in .vimrc, eg, use MM to run: map MM :%s/.\{-70,\} */&<C-V><C-M>/g
    • instead of :%s for search/replace, one could also use the global command g (see below)
  • in practically the same way, the single command gql will break the current line into multiple lines, using the line width to determine where to break (eg :set tw=80), but this won't work on the whole file, as it also joins shorter lines into longer ones ( see here for details )
    • use :g/./ normal gqq to avoid the concatenation
  • if you install the paragraph formatter utility par (ie, sudo apt install par), you can use it to format lines of code by invoking it from within vim
    • :g/.\{80,\}/ .!par w70
    • translation: use the "global" command g, find lines 80+ characters, run them through par, w/ max width 70

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