I am using gVim 8.2 from Cygwin. The synax highlighting recognizes code lines starting with "%%" at columns 1 and 2 show the text black characters on orange background. It is not compatible with my color scheme, and my use of cursorline. I wanted to disable this one part of syntax highlighting.

I tried to find the responsible file anyway to see if I could hack it. I found /usr/share/vim/vim82/syntax/matlab.vim. I searched for the possibly responsible line by searching for %% and found:

syn match matlabCellComment     "^%%.*$"
hi def link matlabCellComment          Todo

I then browsed the :syn-* help pages and found that it is an entire language. The following seems to turn off the "reverse video" without losing most of the synatx highlighting for Matlab:

" ~/.vim/syntax/matlab.vim
hi! def link matlabCellComment NONE

However, any lines matching starting with %% at columns 1 and 2 now have no syntax highlighting.

How can I get lines matching ^%% to show up the same way that all comments do?

I suspect that undoing the syn match matlabCellComment "^%%.*$" command might do the trick, but having perused the syn-match page, it's not clear to me how to do this.

  • Re: update—from a meta perspective, asking more than one question in a post is not how we do things (unless the case can be made for such tight coupling, which i font see here), and generally adding more questions after an answer is accepted is also not too good. You can always ask a new question. From a vim perspective, this is exactly the purpose of the after directory.
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Feb 7, 2021 at 15:03
  • Hmm, I thought it seemed tightly coupled, since I was asking specifically about syntax highlighting rather than in the context of general commands like one might find in vimrc. From your answer, however, I can see in retrospect that it is the same thing. I've erased the update. I appreciate the clarification on the after folder. Feb 7, 2021 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


Try this:

" ~/.vim/after/syntax/matlab.vim
highlight link matlabCellComment SpecialComment

You can also use plain Comment

  • Thanks, that worked. Out of curiosity, however, do you know if there is a way to undo a syn match command? Feb 6, 2021 at 17:56
  • @user2153235 outside of something nuclear like syntax clear? Not sure
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Feb 6, 2021 at 18:03
  • Hmm, I don't want syn clear by itself, since that turns off all colouring. From the help, I tried syn clear matlabCellComment, but that didn't have any effect. Feb 6, 2021 at 18:33
  • :syn clear matlabCellComment should work @user2153235 Feb 7, 2021 at 0:18
  • @Martin Tournoij: Thanks for checking! I said that it didn't, but I neglected to say that I tried it in the ~/.vim/syntax/matlab.vim. I updated my question with the details, but am still hoping there is a way to make it work in the user-specific matlab.vim file. Feb 7, 2021 at 1:54

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