I'm trying to set up normal mode mappings to make it easy to add white space around the cursor:

<C-h> will add one space to the right of the cursor;
<C-j> will add a newline below;
<C-k> will add a newline above;
<C-l> will add one space to the right of the cursor; and
<C-Enter> will add a newline at the current cursor position.

I also want the cursor position not to move during the command. For left, right, and newline, this is simple:

nnoremap <C-h> i <Esc>l
nnoremap <C-l> a <Esc>h
nnoremap <C-^M> i<CR><Esc><Backspace>

but for above and below, the corresponding commands

nnoremap <C-j> o <Esc>k
nnoremap <C-k> O <Esc>j

will get me back on the right line, but not back to the same column that I was on before.

Is there any way to return to the cursor position I was at just before entering insert mode? My best Google-fu only brought up references to '' & double-backtick (can't figure out how to format the markdown there) and :jumps / <C-O> & <C-I>, neither of which seem to work quite the way I'd like.

Can this be solved without Vimscript? Can it even be solved with Vimscript?

2 Answers 2


You can set a local mark to where you're before opening a new line, and go back to this mark afterwards.

You can choose any letter for the mark, let's say for example x:

nnoremap <C-k> mxO<esc>`x
nnoremap <C-j> mxo<esc>`x
  • mx sets the mark x where the cursor is
  • `x moves the cursor back to the position of mark x

You could also look at what tpope wrote in his unimpaired plugin and put the following code inside your vimrc:

set nostartofline

function! s:BlankUp(count) abort
  put!=repeat(nr2char(10), a:count)

function! s:BlankDown(count) abort
  put =repeat(nr2char(10), a:count)

nnoremap <c-k> :<c-u>call <SID>BlankUp(v:count1)<cr>
nnoremap <c-j> :<c-u>call <SID>BlankDown(v:count1)<cr>

The advantage of this solution over the previous one is that it accepts a count and doesn't change any of your marks.
For example to insert 2 lines above the current one, hit 2<C-k>, 3 lines below 3<C-j>.

PS: to write a double backtick in your post, use triple backticks before and after (and put spaces before and after the double backtick): ``

I just noticed that in the case of the 2nd solution, if you want the cursor to come back to the same column where it was before pasting a new line, you have to disable the option 'startofline': set nostartofline

When this option is disabled, the column number of your cursor stays the same after using various commands such as <C-d>, gg, dd, >>, :bnext, :25.
See :help 'startofline' for more info.


No need for vimscript here, the mappings below do exactly what you ask:

nnoremap <C-j> m`o<Esc>``
nnoremap <C-k> m`O<Esc>``
  • m` is used to set the "previous context mark",
  • o<Esc> does what you expect,
  • `` jumps back to the previous context mark.
  • Also note that you can also use m' and '' instead of m` and `` Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 11:20
  • 2
    @EvergreenTree, '' won't jump to the right column, only to the right line.
    – romainl
    Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 11:26
  • Ah, I didn't realize that. Commented Dec 25, 2015 at 11:42

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