When using plain text I write bullet lists like this (second and further lines indented with two spaces):

* blah blah blah
  blah blah

* yadda yadda yadda

Problem is, when I start out a new bullet item:

* blah blah blah

and then press Enter, the second line isn't automatically indented like I want it to be:

* blah blah blah

Since I have autoindent set, once I correct the indentation of the second line the third and subsequent lines indent correctly. Also, if I use gq to format the bullet list item it will format it the way I want. But I want vim to automatically handle it.

Also, I want the indentation mechanism to indent two spaces further if I hit Enter when the first non-whitespace character on the line is a *, to deal with nested bullet items. For instance, if I have:

* blah blah
  * yadda yadda

When I hit Enter at the end of the "yadda"s I want the indentation to be at 4 spaces instead of 2, so when I type more "yadda"s it comes out like this:

* blah blah
  * yadda yadda
    yadda yadda

formatexpr is unset and formatoptions is tcq


1 Answer 1


You can get it to do so by adding r to your 'formatoptions' and amending your 'comments' setting with the following commands:

set formatoptions+=r
set comments-=mb:*
set comments+=fb:*

(If you don't need to keep the rest of your 'comments' setting, you could of course just use the single command: set comments=fb:*)

Note that this alters the * entry in your comments to match the existing - entry, which already indents in the manner you describe.

Some excerpts from :help comments explain how this works:

Vim can automatically insert and format comments in a special way. Vim recognizes a comment by a specific string at the start of the line (ignoring white space). Three types of comments can be used:

  • A comment string that repeats at the start of each line. An example is the type of comment used in shell scripts, starting with "#".
  • A comment string that occurs only in the first line, not in the following lines. An example is this list with dashes.


The 'comments' option is a comma-separated list of parts. Each part defines a type of comment string. A part consists of: {flags}:{string}



b Blank (, or ) required after {string}.

f Only the first line has the comment string. Do not repeat comment on the next line, but preserve indentation (e.g., a bullet-list).

(emphasis mine)

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