A lot of vim commands can take a number referring to the number of lines that the command will act on.

Is it possible to show the line numbers relative to the current line? Something like the following:

3: some text here
2: more text
1: This is the line above where the cursor is
0: The cursor is on this line
1: This is the line after the cursor
2: More text here

4 Answers 4


I just replied to a similar question here: How can I add line numbers to Vim?

Beginning with version 7.3, you can use the following:

set relativenumber

I actually use both relativenumber and number in my vimrc which will use relative numbers for all lines except the current line.

set number                     " Show current line number
set relativenumber             " Show relative line numbers
  • Not sure exactly but the first changelog its mentioned in is 7.3. ftp.vim.org/pub/vim/patches/7.3/README Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 21:10
  • @aturegano your edits were quite substantial, and I felt they would be better as a new answer than as a part of this one. Others may disagree (your edit is still pending review), but please consider it!
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Commented Feb 21, 2020 at 15:42
  • 3
    you might enjoy the hybrid mode :set nu rnu Commented Apr 14, 2021 at 8:36
  • @user1068352 's comment could also be :set number relativenumber. It's useful those shorter versions of commands, but I like the full version to keep them in mind easier. Commented Mar 26, 2022 at 14:03

You can toggle relative numbering on and off using:

:set rnu    " toggle relative numbering on
:set rnu!   " toggle relative numbering off

If you want to use a hotkey for toggling relative line number, here is a snippet in my vimrc:

" Toggle relative line number
nmap <C-L><C-L> :set invrelativenumber<CR>

In this case, I use ctrl-L twice to toggle it.

function! NumberToggle()
  if(&relativenumber == 1)
    set norelativenumber
    set relativenumber

nnoremap <leader>nt :call NumberToggle()<cr>
  • 2
    Does the norelativenumber just turn off numbering altogether or does it switch to conventional numbering? Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 16:59
  • 2
    The numbers.vim plugin also adds some more advanced relative number functionality, e.g. having the line your cursor occupies printing the non-relative number, and switching to non-relative numbering throughout the whole file when the vim window loses focus. Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 17:22
  • 1
    @shawndumas so is there a precedence of which numbers are shown? If for instance I had set number in my vimrc and set relativenumber / norelativenumber was called could it toggle between relative and standard numbering? Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 17:29
  • 1
    that is most correct
    – shawndumas
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 20:43
  • 1
    simply set rnu! toggles relative and absolute numbers too Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 22:30

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