I have been used to absolute line numbers (:set number norelativenumber). I'm unable to find a good reason and utility value for relative line numbers (:set nonumber relativenumber) line or hybrid line numbers (:set number relativenumber).

Can someone help me understand their value?

I am sure there is.

  • 1
    From the documentation: Relative line numbers help you use the |count| you can precede some vertical motion commands (e.g. j k + -) with, without having to calculate it yourself. Especially useful in combination with other commands (e.g. y d c < > gq gw =) :h 'relativenumber'
    – r_31415
    Sep 14, 2022 at 8:26
  • You may find the following link useful, especially because the gifs help bring relative numbers to life, so to speak. jeffkreeftmeijer.com/vim-number
    – Telemachus
    Sep 14, 2022 at 13:53

1 Answer 1


One reason for relative line number is that some Vim command use relative line number or relative range.

A trivial example is 4j that moves 4 line down relative to the current line number.

But there are other commands like :t or :m that copy or move lines that can be used with relative range and relative line numbers.

Move the current line and the next three to start below line 1.


If you want to use such relative ranges and line number it helps to have relative line number shown.

Personally I don't use them very often and I prefer absolute line number too.

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