Suppose I have this (where my insertion point is designated "|"):

col1           col2

thing          oeueaoue|

What keystroke(s) would I use so the insertion point jumps to here:

col1           col2

thing          oeueaoue
another        |


Is return+A+tab… (normal mode) the only way?

  • 1
    How do you feel about using 'virtualedit'? You could use set virtualedit=all. Then you can just move to where you want to start editing. Mar 22 '18 at 19:08
  • @PeterRincker That wouldn't be a very automated way of doing it, would it?
    – Geremia
    Mar 22 '18 at 21:22

You can use :Tabularize to do this.

:Tabularize /\s\+\zs/l1

There are plenty of other alignment plugins. e.g. vim-easy-align and lion.vim. I would recommend installing an alignment tool if this becomes common.

If you want it automated then you can do something similar to Tim Pope's cucumbertables.vim. Example:

inoremap <silent> <space>   <space>.<Esc>:call <SID>align()<CR>"_s

function! s:align()
  let p = '^\%(\w\+\s\+\)\+\w\+$'
  if exists(':Tabularize') && getline('.') =~# '^\w\+\s' && (getline(line('.')-1) =~# p || getline(line('.')+1) =~# p)
    let column = strlen(substitute(substitute(getline('.')[0:col('.')],'\S\+','.','g'), '\s*', '', 'g'))
    normal! 0
    call search(repeat('\w\+\s\+',column-1) . '.', 'ce', line('.'))

Note: I have not fully tested this code. Use as is.

I would recommend this to be a buffer local mapping. See :h map-local.

Want a more native/simpler approach? Use <c-y> to copy a character right above the current location. You can simply spam <c-y> until you have your whitespace alignment. See :h i_CTRL-y for more information.


from here:

When there are many lines to edit, it can be useful to map the return key temporarily, something like that in your case:

inoremap <buffer> <cr> <esc>jA<tab>

When you're done, just cancel the map:

iunmap <buffer> <cr>

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