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The default syntax highlighting for bib files doesn't highlight comments inside entries, like this:

@book{test,
    % title = {This isn't highlighted as a comment},
}

That's because bibtex doesn't allow comments inside entries, but biblatex does and I never use bibtex, so I want to add the highlighting myself.

I tried adding this to ~/.vim/after/syntax/bib.vim:

syn match testComment "%.*$"
highlight link testComment Comment

But it doesn't work. Any ideas on how I can make stuff after a % count as a comment anywhere on the file?

PS: Ideally the % still wouldn't count as a comment if it's inside a field, like url = {http://whatever.com%20whatever}… but I think I can figure out a regex pattern to account for that if I can get the highlighting to work inside entries at all.

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The reason it does not work is that the match is inside an bibEntry. Thus you have to redefine the bibEntry region so as to include (with the contains= option a comment group. In this case, you should use a new comment group, not the existing bibComment and bibComment2, because these are reserved for standard bibtex comments.

I think the following should work if you put it in .../after/syntax/bib.vim:

syn region bibEntryData contained
  \ start=/[{(]/ms=e+1
  \ end=/[})]/me=e-1
  \ contains=bibKey,bibField,bibComment3
syn match bibComment3 "^\s*%.*"
highlight link bibComment3 Comment

Note: This assumes that all comments are "full line"-comments.

  • Thanks for your help! That works for a few random comments, but not for most. It doesn't work with my example, for instance (% title = {This isn't…). – dbmrq Sep 12 '16 at 7:20
  • Ah, I think the updated answer works. We needed to go one level deeper into the nested syntax definitions. – Karl Yngve Lervåg Sep 12 '16 at 19:29
  • 1
    Awesome, thank you! I don't know much about how the contains= thing works, but I just replaced the regex pattern with "%.*" and it seems to work perfectly even for end-of-line comments. I worried that would cause problems with url fields like I mentioned in the "PS", but the comments still aren't highlighted inside each field's brackets, so it works great! – dbmrq Sep 12 '16 at 20:41

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