In a fortran code, I have lines like

c    write(6,*) "something"
     write(6,*) "something_else"

I would like to insert the first character of the previous line when I open a new line with o in normal mode or enter in insert mode.
In the example given, if I open a new line under the 1st line, the line should open with a c and when I open new line under the 2nd, the new line should start with a whitespace. How would I do that in vim?

P.S. Kindly add appropriate tags if you find any. I could only find vimscript and vimrc which might even be not so appropriate.

  • 2
    something like this perhaps: nnoremap o o<c-y> Feb 3, 2017 at 10:56
  • 1
    Also, it might be worth saying that in this context, c is the character for commenting.
    – nobe4
    Feb 3, 2017 at 11:04
  • 1
    @ChristianBrabandt That doesn't work for lines beginning with whitespace since it also prints the first non-whitespace character along with the whitespace
    – user41805
    Feb 3, 2017 at 11:26
  • @KritixiLithos That's why it is only a comment and no real solution. However I think this one does really what the OP wants: nnoremap o o<c-u><c-y> Feb 3, 2017 at 15:36

2 Answers 2


One possible approach is to use custom function:

function! MyFunction()
  let curline = getline(line('.'))
  let char = " "
  if len(curline)
    let char = curline[0]
  let l:r = append(line('.'), char)
  let l:r = setpos('.', [0, line('.')+1, 3, 1])

nnoremap o :call MyFunction()<CR>A
inoremap <CR> <Esc>:call MyFunction()<CR>A

Using above mapping will make it work both in normal and insert mode.

  • Works perfectly! Mecri!
    – Sathyam
    Feb 3, 2017 at 11:54

Try adding this to your vimrc:

nnoremap o 0ylo^OP

where ^O is the character literal for <C-o>

The first thing that happens in the mapping is that you go to the beginning of the line 0 and yank the first character yl. Then you go ahead and create a newline below the current line o. All that's left now is to paste that character, so we execute <C-o> (which allows us to execute one normal mode command while in insert mode) and we paste that register to the left of our cursor P.

  • When I do 'o', A new line starts with the character ^OP.
    – Sathyam
    Feb 3, 2017 at 11:58
  • @Sathyam You have to type <C-v><C-o> in insert mode to print the literal ^O
    – user41805
    Feb 3, 2017 at 14:22

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