How do I insert text at beginning of a multi-line selection in vi/Vim?

0 votes
asked Oct 31, 2008 by jordan-parmer

In Vim, how would I go about inserting characters at the beginning of each line in a selection?

For instance, let's say I want to comment out a block of code by prepending '//' at the beginning of each line (assuming my language's comment system doesn't allow block commenting like /* */). How would I do this?

11 Answers

0 votes
answered Jan 2, 2008 by brian-carper

Yet another way:

:'<,'>g/^/norm I//

/^/ is just a dummy pattern to match every line. norm lets you run the normal-mode commands that follow. I// says to enter insert-mode while jumping the cursor to the beginning of the line, then insert the following text (two slashes).

:g is often handy for doing something complex on multiple lines, where you may want to jump between multiple modes, delete or add lines, move the cursor around, run a bunch of macros, etc. And you can tell it to operate only on lines that match a pattern.

0 votes
answered Jan 2, 2008 by benedikt-waldvogel

I can recommend the EnhCommentify plugin.

eg. put this to your vimrc:

let maplocalleader=','
vmap <silent> <LocalLeader>c <Plug>VisualTraditional
nmap <silent> <LocalLeader>c <Plug>Traditional
let g:EnhCommentifyBindInInsert = 'No'
let g:EnhCommentifyMultiPartBlocks = 'Yes'
let g:EnhCommentifyPretty = 'Yes'
let g:EnhCommentifyRespectIndent = 'Yes'
let g:EnhCommentifyUseBlockIndent = 'Yes'

you can then comment/uncomment the (selected) lines with ',c'

0 votes
answered Jan 20, 2008 by steve-k

And yet another way:

  • Move to the beginning of a line
  • enter Visual Block mode (CTRL-v)
  • select the lines you want (moving up/down with j/k, or jumping to a line with [line]G)
  • press I (that's capital i)
  • type the comment character(s)
  • press ESC
0 votes
answered Jan 31, 2008 by lucas-oman

If you want to get super fancy about it, put this in your .vimrc:

vmap \c :s!^!//!<CR>
vmap \u :s!^//!!<CR>

Then, whenever in visual mode, you can hit \c to comment the block and \u to uncomment it. Of course, you can change those shortcut keystrokes to whatever.

0 votes
answered Oct 31, 2008 by tomalak

This replaces the beginning of each line with "//":


This replaces the beginning of each selected line (use visual mode to select) with "//":


Note that gv (in normal mode) restores the last visual selection, this comes in handy from time to time.

0 votes
answered Oct 31, 2008 by pixelbeat
  • Press Esc to enter 'command mode'
  • Use Ctrl+V to enter visual block mode
  • Move Up/Downto select the columns of text in the lines you want to comment.
  • Then hit Shift+i and type the text you want to insert.
  • Then hit Esc, wait 1 second and the inserted text will appear on every line.
0 votes
answered Jan 8, 2009 by ninegrid

Another way that might be easier for newcomers:


Place the cursor on the first line, e.g. by

: 1 Enter

and type the following to get into insert mode and add your text:

I / / Space

 // █some

Press Esc to get back to command mode and use the digraph:

j . j .

 // some
 // code

j is a motion command to go down one line and . repeats the last editing command you made.

0 votes
answered Jan 29, 2009 by kevin

For commenting blocks of code, I like the NERD Commenter plugin.

Select some text:

Shift-V the lines of text you want to comment....





Or just toggle the comment state of a line or block:

0 votes
answered Jan 8, 2010 by jar-jarhead

This adds # at the beginning of every line:


And people will stop complaining about your lack of properly commenting scripts.

0 votes
answered Oct 6, 2010 by cyber-monk

The general pattern for search and replace is:


Replaces the first occurrence of 'search' with 'replace' for current line


Replaces all occurrences of 'search' with 'replace' for current line, 'g' is short for 'global'

This command will replace each occurrence of 'search' with 'replace' for the current line only. The % is used to search over the whole file. To confirm each replacement interactively append a 'c' for confirm:


Interactive confirm replacing 'search' with 'replace' for the entire file

Instead of the % character you can use a line number range (note that the '^' character is a special search character for the start of line):


Inserts a '#' character at the start of lines 14-20

If you want to use another comment character (like //) then change your command delimiter:


Inserts a '//' character sequence at the start of lines 14-20

Or you can always just escape the // characters like:


Inserts a '//' character sequence at the start of lines 14-20

If you are not seeing line numbers in your editor, simply type the following

:set nu
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