Some console editors distinguish between "inserting a newline" and "inserting a newline + matching the level of indentation of the current line".

For instance, the editor mg distinguishes between C-j (which matches the previous level of indentation) and C-m (which just inserts a \n) in C mode.

GNU Emacs (which mg is emulating) does more sophisticated stuff to determine the appropriate level of indentation, but I like the simple "just use the indentation level of the previous line" of mg.

If the buffer consists of (where . is space)


Then hitting C-j will do...


I was wondering if there's a way (particularly a built-in way) to get the same indentation-matching behavior in vim when I hit C-j.

I have a utility function for extracting whitespace characters from the beginning of a numbered line, but I can't figure out how to package it into a command that grabs the corresponding characters from the current line, inserts a newline, and then inserts the whitespace prefix from the original line.

function! GetIndentationPrefix(linum)
    let line = getline(a:linum)
    let index = 0
    let target = strlen(line)
    let whitespace_prefix = ''
    while index <# target
        if line[index] ==# ' '
            let whitespace_prefix = whitespace_prefix . ' '
        elseif line[index] ==# '\t'
            let whitespace_prefix = whitespace_prefix . '\t'
        let index = index + 1
    return whitespace_prefix

2 Answers 2


If you have set cindent or set autoindent, vim actually does match indent when you press <c-j>. But it also does when you press <cr>. To circumvent this you could make a mapping like:

inoremap <cr> <cr><c-o>i

So now <c-j> will match indent, but <cr> won't.


If you set ai, then <c-j> (in insert mode) will do what you want. If you want the Enter-Key to behave differently then you also can :inoremap <cr> <cr>0<c-d>

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