The usecase is LaTeX, which I write using VimTeX.

To make double quoted words one would write ``words''.

However, I'm much more used, from many other contexts (both prose and code), to type " for both opening and closing double quotes, and I often forget I have to press `` and ''.

So I'd like a way to change " to `` or '' depending on whether it's preceded by a space (or tab) or not.

So far I've come up with the solution I propose in the self answer, but I'd like to know whether there's something better.

  • 1
    As far as I recall, using TeX ligatures is discouraged in modern (Unicode-aware) implementations of LaTeX. So the solution is to either use the proper Unicode quotes or a package like csquotes that handles them for you. Just my two cents and definitely offtopic here.
    – Friedrich
    Sep 4 at 11:09
  • @Friedrich, I didn't know of this "discouragement", so it's good to know, thanks!
    – Enlico
    Sep 4 at 11:35
  • It's something I picked up, you might want to do a little digging. Next thing, you will ask a question how to turn a quote into the appropriate csquote macro depending on context :-)
    – Friedrich
    Sep 4 at 11:42

1 Answer 1


This is the solution I've come up with,

inoremap <buffer> <expr> " <sid>expand_double_quote()
fun! s:expand_double_quote()
  if col('.') < 2 || getline('.')[col('.') - 2 ] == ' '
    return "``"
    return "''"

which I've put in $HOME/.vim/after/ftplugin/tex.vim.

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