According to this:

nnoremap Q @='n.'<CR>: The @ key tells Vim to execute a macro. Rather than using a named register we use the expression register, which lets us specify the contents in place. The characters inside of the quotes are interpreted as keystrokes, and the carriage return enters the string into the expression register.

But I tried this:

nnoremap K @='k<C-Y>'<CR> and it doesn't work. Edit: nevermind, this one works, but this one doesn't: noremap J @="j<C-E>"<CR>

Edit: I was also trying to make noremap J @="j<C-E>"<CR> work. But one of the comments below links to a question and explains why this one doesn't work: this

  • 3
    it works for me (although I'm not sure why you'd use this instead of nnoremap K k<c-y>
    – Mass
    May 11, 2020 at 2:57
  • 1
    '<C-Y>' is not ctrl-y.
    – Matt
    May 11, 2020 at 3:07
  • 1
    @Matt doesn't matter, since nnoremap replaces <c-y> for you. It works fine on my vim.
    – Mass
    May 11, 2020 at 3:09
  • 1
    I meant nnoremap K @="k\<lt>C-Y>"<CR> but, as it turns out, that one should also work. @Zaid You probably have some other mapping for <C-Y> or such.
    – Matt
    May 11, 2020 at 3:35
  • 2
    However, nnoremap K @='k<C-Y>'<CR> still doesn't work. It works for me. Try to reproduce without config vim -Nu NONE +"nnoremap K @='k<C-Y>'<CR>".
    – user938271
    May 14, 2020 at 3:16

1 Answer 1


There are two types of quotes in Vim, '...', and "...". These are treated differently.

The first '...' is a literal string. It is taken as-is. No characters have a special meaning, including <,>,\.

The second "..." is a quoted string. It accepts special characters, which are prepended with a backslash (\).

In your case, <C-Y> is denotes the special character CTRL-Y. Thus, to include this character in your expression, you should use the double quotes with a backslash ("\<C-Y>").

Putting it together, the mapping would be changed to

nnoremap K @="k\<C-Y>"<CR>

For more, see

  • :h expr-'

  • :h expr-"

Edit: For a similar mapping to J, nnoremap J @="j\<C-E>"<CR> would not work, as <C-E> gets 'used up' in the (expression register) command line. This is further explained here, and in the comments. A better way would be to escape it with \<lt>, as proposed in the comments.


nnoremap K @="k\<lt>C-Y>"<CR>
nnoremap J @="j\<lt>C-E>"<CR>
  • For some reason, nnoremap J @="j\<C-E>"<CR> doesn't work. nnoremap K @="k\<C-Y>"<CR> does. :S This is the error I get: ="j\" E114: Missing quote: "j\" Press ENTER or type command to continue
    – WalksB
    May 14, 2020 at 2:52
  • I think the latest comment added by user938271 to the question explains it: vi.stackexchange.com/a/7437/17449
    – WalksB
    May 14, 2020 at 3:06
  • Good find. TIL.
    – husB
    May 14, 2020 at 3:15
  • The :map commands are special in that they expand the <...> key sequences. So to get what you're proposing here, you actually need nnoremap K @="k\<lt>C-Y>"<CR>, more specifically use a <lt> to prevent :map from expanding the <C-Y> prematurely. But having said that, since :map expands the <C-Y>, it actually should work with the single quotes, having the :map expand the special characters...
    – filbranden
    May 14, 2020 at 3:44
  • 1
    Agreed, thank you :) Allow me to edit my answer
    – husB
    May 14, 2020 at 3:46

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