At the moment I use prettier for formatting with vim (via Coc). The issue I have is that prettier is opinionated and, at the same time, inconsistent.

With javascript, functions look like this:

function cheese() {
  // stuff here

In PHP they look like this:

function cheese() 
  // stuff here

I want to be able to have full control over how conditionals, loops and functions look.

Is there a "vim way" of customising this?

I searched online but most solutions mention prettier!

  • Read the docs :h =.
    – 3N4N
    Oct 26, 2022 at 15:14

2 Answers 2


There are no builtin way to format code with Vim.

However Vim has two formatting commands:

  1. =
  2. gq

The first re-indent the content based on the file type.

The second reformat the content using either a VimScript or an external command.

How to associate an external command to a filetype is explained in the following answer: How to format code in vim using external commands

  • See in particular how you can customise Vim's internal 'cindent' indenting at :help cinoptions-values and the details of Vim's default PHP indenting at :help php-indent
    – Rich
    Oct 27, 2022 at 11:24
  • Also gw, and (as Rich points out) a massive number of options to control formatting and indenting behavior.
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Oct 28, 2022 at 13:55

As an alternative, use filters in your own command to call external tools. For example, for C and C++ you can run something like this:

" .vim/after/ftplugin/cpp.vim
command! -buffer Fmt let winsaved = winsaveview() | execute '%! clang-format --style WebKit' | if v:shell_error > 0 | silent undo | endif | call winrestview(winsaved)

The same idea is useful for pretty much any other language:

latex: %! latexindent

python: %! black - -q

go: %! gofmt

  • This is very similar to :setlocal formatprg=clang-format (latexindent/etc.), although you could reasonably choose indentprg, too.
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Oct 28, 2022 at 13:56
  • I don't think it is so reasonable to use indentprg for things that require more than indenting. You could use formatprg, but it becomes a big mess with complex logic and not so flexible as it cannot be used in autocommands, which is a common request for this sort of feature.
    – r_31415
    Oct 28, 2022 at 16:02
  • I don't follow "complex logic" or "cannot be used in autocommands," since formatprg only affects how the builtin gq works, which can be incorporated anywhere with :normal!
    – D. Ben Knoble
    Oct 28, 2022 at 17:56
  • Notice the additional commands to restore the view when malformed code triggers an error. For the record, I also use formatprg as you described for formatting visual selections.
    – r_31415
    Oct 28, 2022 at 18:10

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