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I thought I knew how Vim handles indentation but apparently I was wrong. When I type at the beginning of a line, everything seems to work as expected. However when I type somewhere inside a line, strange things happen.

Suppose my options are set as follows:

set filetype=c
set cindent
set tabstop=8
set shiftwidth=8
set softtabstop=0
set listchars=tab:▸\ ,eol:¬,space:-

That being said I would expect every tab character to have equivalent length of tabstop=8. That is not the case. What happens is this: enter image description here

How can I configure Vim to show every tab character with equivalent length?

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Tab characters don't have fixed width; that's the purpose.

The original purpose of tabulation is to create neat columns. It's magic: you press one button, and the cursor is automatically at the beginning of the next column. What you define with tabstop is, in reality, the width of those columns; it isn't the width of the tab character.

If you really need equivalent spacing, just add the number of spaces you want. Vim's i, a, o etc. accept counts, so you can just do 8i <Esc> (in Normal mode) to add 8 spaces at current position.

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