Is it possible to change how a character is displayed?

I explain better, I want to replace the character '*' with math unicode '∗' [U+2217]. This should affect only the way the character is displayed not the file content.

Note: I have already tried to use the conceal feature, however I am not really satisfied by the result.

I would like to have a behaviour similar to listchars and list for example listchars=space:.

  • what did you try? Nov 20, 2017 at 13:13
  • ops I didn't check the 'concealcursor' option! I solved and got exactly the behaviour. Solution syntax match Normal /\*/ conceal cchar=∗ and set conceallevel=1 and set concealcursor=ni
    – nicmus
    Nov 20, 2017 at 13:23
  • @nicmus You should post that as an answer if it solves the issue for you. Answering your own question is allowed!
    – Rich
    Nov 20, 2017 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


So as suggested I will give the solution I found.

After having

set conceallevel=1
set concealcursor=ni

there are two ways to achieve the result:

1) using :syntax match

:syntax match Conceal /\*/ conceal cchar=∗

2) using matchadd

:call matchadd('Conceal','\*',10,-1,{'conceal': '∗'})


  • 10 is the priority (default is 10)
  • -1 is the match ID (see help matchadd)

You might also consider

:hi! link Conceal Normal

to link the syntax highlighting of Conceal group to Normal group.

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