To format text in LaTeX you need to surround it with curly brackets, e.g. \emph{} to render it emphasized. I often need to add commands like that to selected text fragments, nothing that could be covered with a simple :%s/foo/bar/g substitution. I already figured out how to do the substitution for one selection with the help of Replace in Visual Selection, e.g.:


To do this for multiple words, I repeat:

  • select
  • type :
  • press followed by Enter

Take this as an example, let’s say I want to replace “bayc’” in the first, “minč’der̊” in the second and “oč’ t’e” and “ayl” in the third sentence – and can’t type those special characters easily:

Irenk’ miayn bołok’ kar-oł en nerkaya-c’n-el bayc’ da hayec’akarg č’-i kar-oł {hamar-v-el. (Ar̊avot 06.04.2006)} \\
Agah mecaharust-n ayr-v-um ēr džoxk’-i krak-ner-i meǰ minč’der̊ Ałk’at Łazaros-ě bazm-el ēr hayr Abraham-i {kołk’-i-n. (Nazaryan 2006: 170)} \\
Na naew ěndgc-el ē or hakamartut’yun-ě kar-oł en luc-el oč’ t’e mijnord-ner-ě ayl {kołm-er-ě. (Armenpress 25.03.2006)} \\

Is there an easier way to either do a substitution for multiple selections at once or repeat the command faster (something like . for ex-mode commands)?

  • I'm not sure I get your problem. Why can't you search with /, use cgn to replace the text and then use . to repeat or n to skip?
    – ChatterOne
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 12:35
  • @ChatterOne Because that’s not efficient, I need to replace this word in that sentence and then another one (and not the first!) in the next, see the example.
    – dessert
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 12:41

1 Answer 1


Vim offers at least a couple of different solutions to this problem.

Repeating an Ex Command

When you issue an ex command, Vim stores that command in the ": register. You can then repeat this command in the same way you play back a macro: by typing @:.

Subsequently, just like when playing back macros, you can repeat the command even faster @ by typing @@.

Using a Macro

An alternative is not to use a :substitute command at all, and instead to make the edits with a recorded macro. When you are in visual mode, type:


Then, make another visual selection and press @q to playback the macro. Like in the above, subsequent playbacks can be initiated with @@.

  • Thanks, that helps a lot! A different approach might be possible with the vim-multiple-cursors plugin, but I don’t want to install a plugin and couldn’t test it.
    – dessert
    Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 16:04

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