I always have problems selecting visual areas with the normal! command in vim. Against all I expected, the following doesn't work:

function! s:foo()
    normal! v/\S\<cr>

nnoremap <silent> a :<c-u>call <sid>foo()<cr>

It just selects nothing. normal! doesn't seem to work with /. Have I reached the limit of vim's capabilities or am I just doing something wrong?

1 Answer 1


Rather than using vim key-descriptions (such as <CR> or <C-v>) you'll have to enter the literal key you want to press. \<CR> looks like it means "Press the enter key" it really means "Search for \< start of word, followed by the text CR>

To do a literal newline character instead of <cr>, try pressing <C-v><cr>. This will appear as ^M. That works for me.

  • I don't search for a backslash character, the ` \ ` was supposed to escape the < of <esc>. All these different kinds of newlines still trip me up...
    – hgiesel
    Commented Jun 18, 2016 at 23:59
  • @hgiesel oh. So what exactly are you searching for? You should describe that.
    – DJMcMayhem
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 0:01
  • Just what you wrote: Select from current position to first non-whitestace character (inclusive). But with ^M it still doesn't work for me, weird.
    – hgiesel
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 0:06
  • 1
    @hgiesel That's because you've got the extra backlash in there. Does it work with :normal! v/\S^M? (With ^M entered <C-v><cr>)
    – DJMcMayhem
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 0:10
  • @hgiesel Glad I could help! let me update my answer real quick so it more accurately represents the right solution.
    – DJMcMayhem
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 0:16

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