I commonly will have a long list of ids that I will need to convert into a tuple for a SQL query or perhaps to create a array in python/javascript. Here is the command I've written to format a list of ids into a tuple and paste it back into the system clipboard:

nnoremap & "*pV']J:s/ /,/g<cr>i(<c-o>$)<esc>V"*y

How could this be converted into a function? I tried starting but I couldn't even get past the first thing of "paste from clipboard", for example:

func FormatInput ()
    call execute("\"*p") " how to get this to execute properly with the leading `"` ?

While the above one-line might be sufficient for now, I'd like to add things like "quote strings" if the first item is not a digit and stuff like that.

  • 1
    execute() works in command-mode; p is a Normal mode command. See :h :normal
    – Matt
    Jun 13, 2020 at 10:01

1 Answer 1


Use :normal! for the parts that should be executed in Normal mode.

If they include special key codes such as <C-o> or <Esc>, then use :execute so you can use a double quoted string with \<...> sequences for the :normal! command.

Putting it all together:

function! FormatInput()
    normal! "*pV']J
    s/ /,/g
    execute "normal! i(\<c-o>$)\<esc>V\"*y"
nnoremap <silent> & :call FormatInput()<CR>
  • 1
    And for those that prefer ex when possible: put * (the visual join is unavoidable unfortunately), s/^/(/ | s/$/)/ | yank *
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Jun 13, 2020 at 12:52
  • @Filbranden -- thanks, why did you use normal! on the first line and then execute "normal..." on the third? Is that because of the <c-o>?
    – David542
    Jun 14, 2020 at 2:38
  • @David542 Yes. Like I mentioned a few lines above, if you need special key codes then you need to use :execute to be able to add them using escapes in a string. :map and friends expand those key codes themselves, that's why that's not needed there.
    – filbranden
    Jun 14, 2020 at 2:44

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