I am trying to direct data from manpage to gvim file but it's not properly formatted.


  • In manpage it is shown as NAME (bold)
  • But in gvim its printed as N^HNA^HAM^HME^HE.
  • Similarly for SYNTAX it prints S^HSY^HYN^HNT^HTA^HAX^HX.
  • You can notice additional letter after(or before) ^H.

Please suggest how to correct this.
Also suggest if there is any other way of re-directing, so that it keeps the formatting intact.

  • 3
    Unix and gvim are not file formats: one is an OS standard and the other an editor. Can you clarify (1) the exact steps you take to see the differences; (2) where the file comes from; and (3) what you mean by direct data from unix to gvim? I’ve seen similar things in man pages before for bolding effects.
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Jun 10, 2019 at 14:07
  • Hello D.BenKnoble, sorry for not providing enough clarification. Your assumption is correct. This issue I am facing is of printing data of 'Manpage' to gvim editor, where it is creating formatting issue.
    – vikas
    Jun 11, 2019 at 6:33
  • 1
    Shouldn't need an extra command. If you're using GNU tools then why not just man --ascii? (Other implementations should have some another way of dumping plain text if they don't have that flag. ) And, btw, you can't "preserve formatting" in any native way. Vim is a (plain) text editor.
    – B Layer
    Jun 11, 2019 at 8:37
  • 1
    @vikas try my answer using vim’s native man page environment.
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Jun 11, 2019 at 12:09

4 Answers 4


I suppose you are trying to capture the output from a program and open it on gVim... If that's the case, I'm afraid you will need to open the file with the output and then remove those ^H and the repeated character that follows it.



%s/ substitute in all lines:

\v uses very magic mode (see :help /magic)

(.)^H\1 searchs for one character followed by ^H and then by itself again (a^Ha, for example); note that in order to enter ^H you need to press ^V (or ^Q if you were on a Windows machine) and then ^H

/\1/g replace all the occurrences with the first character

PS: A long time ago, in order to print bold characters you would need to print it, than send a backspace and print it again; well, ^H is that backspace character.

  • Indeed, the man and manpager plugin files that ship with vim do something similar
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Jun 10, 2019 at 18:02
  • Hello João A. Toledo. Thanks a lot for your input. Your assumption is on point. But command you provided is not working. Error reported is "Pattern not found \v(.)^H\1 ".
    – vikas
    Jun 11, 2019 at 6:40
  • Good to know that you solved your problem in another way. Regarding the fact that it didn't find the pattern: maybe you didn't entered ^H by pressing Ctrl+V and then Ctrl+H? Jun 11, 2019 at 13:22

Since the OP is dealing directly with manpages, I suggest

:runtime plugin/man.vim

(Which can be put in startup files), followed by

:Man command

Also see help MANPAGER


I got the solution.

man <command> | col -b > <file>

This command dumps the file without ^H and one extra character.
Drawback: bold letters are not bold, but at-least gvim file is now readable.


if you use vim in mac could do following in command enter mode:

Contrl + Q, Control + H

it will generate ^H in line.

  • 1
    Welcome to the forum! I think the OP is trying to prevent these characters to appear. How does this answer his question?
    – Biggybi
    Feb 6, 2021 at 9:22
  • If OP cannot type ^H in command how to remove it, this is why I post. Type ^h in command and then use %s/^h//g to remove it all, few people know how to type special symbol in vim, got it?
    – user613826
    Feb 6, 2021 at 10:48
  • 1
    Oh, I get it now. So this is about the same as this answer, isn't it?
    – Biggybi
    Feb 6, 2021 at 13:05
  • You might want to edit your answer to give the example of using it in a :s command to enter the ^H. See also :help c_CTRL-Q. Also note that it's equivalent to CTRL-V, which I'd say is more standard for this purpose (personally I'd recommend using CTRL-V instead of CTRL-Q).
    – filbranden
    Feb 6, 2021 at 15:30
  • @Biggybi why not try it in mac, %s/\v(.)^H\1/\1/g not work in mac. Instead, :%s/^H//g works fine.
    – user613826
    Feb 6, 2021 at 15:58

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