Suppose I have the following two lines in a function:

execute "normal! o"
execute "normal! S"

Is there a way to combine these so it is simpler, for example:

execute "normal! o<c-o>S"

It seems I need to 'escape' the <c-o> somehow.

  • 1
    Yes, escape <c-o> with execute "normal! o\<C-o>S". See :help expr-quote which explains how double quoted strings work...
    – filbranden
    Jun 15, 2020 at 3:53

1 Answer 1


In execute parameters, you need to escape special characters sequences with \:

execute "normal o\<c-o>S"

But this will not let you in insert mode. You could add


to force insert mode, but it will not respect autoindent. I don't know how to get around that.

You might as well go for a list of instructions:

normal! o
normal! S

execute is no more needed, making the code quite clear.

  • sure, but wouldn't you need execute "..." if you're using any control sequence, such as in your first code line?
    – David542
    Jun 15, 2020 at 5:23
  • @David542 Yes, indeed. I edited my post to make it clearer what I meant.
    – Biggybi
    Jun 15, 2020 at 5:40
  • You still want a bang on normal
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Jun 15, 2020 at 11:13
  • @D.BenKnoble I'm not sure I understand the doc but I believe in you.
    – Biggybi
    Jun 15, 2020 at 12:32
  • Well, typically it’s unlikely you want to use someone’s mapping for S when you do :normal S in a plugin—but without the bang, if I have nnoremap S anything it will take effect! Its like noremap for normal; it’s become something of a best-practice, and it’s good defensive programming. The idea is to use it unless you know you want to invoke a mapping via normal
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Jun 15, 2020 at 12:36

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