I want to do the following:

When I insert an HTML tag (which is a sequence of text that starts with <tagname tag_attributes and ends with >), as soon as I press > to insert the > character, I want:

  1. A text </tagname> to be inserted two lines under the current line.
  2. Put the cursor on the line which is between the opening and closing tags.
  3. Insert a tab.

So, when I insert a text such as <div possibly_attributes and insert >, I want the following:

<div possibly_attributes>
    [cursor here]

How can I do this?

  • 1
    As others pointed emmet-vim is a tool you should definitely try. You write div#main and you get the full html - <div id="main"></div>.
    – Al.G.
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 17:18

5 Answers 5


Here is a simple ad-hoc solution to put in ~/.vim/after/ftplugin/html.vim:

inoremap <buffer> > ></<C-x><C-o><C-y><C-o>%<CR><C-o>O


></                insert '></'
<C-x><C-o><C-y>    use the built-in omni-completion to finish the closing tag
<C-o>%             move the cursor to the beginning of your closing tag
<CR>               insert a newline to push the closing tag on its own line
<C-o>O             open a new line above the current line

And here is how it looks like in practice:


But you should definitely take a look at plugins like Sparkup/Emmet, that let you use a concise CSS-like notation to produce proper HTML, or Snipmate/Ultisnips that let you create and expand very powerful snippets for any language.

--- edit ---

Using Vim productively will be very hard without the following lines in your vimrc:

set backspace=indent,eol,start
set hidden
filetype plugin indent on
syntax on

The solution above is guaranteed to work with that minimal setup.

--- endedit ---

  • I couldn't get this working. Do I need to press another thing as well after I press >?
    – Utku
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 18:43
  • No. The right hand side is executed when you press >. It should work with a very minimal vimrc.
    – romainl
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 19:04
  • So do I need to put something in .vimrc as well? I have put the plugin in ~/.vim/after/ftplugin/ but couldn't get it working.
    – Utku
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 19:05
  • Maybe a config issue… see my edit.
    – romainl
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 19:23
  • Still not working. Is ~/.vim/after/ftplugin/ the correct place? Also, I have tried putting inoremap <buffer> > ></<C-x><C-o><C-y><C-o>%<CR><C-o>O to my .vimrc. This time it did something but it stopped after inserting </ and said E764: Option 'omnifunc' is not set.
    – Utku
    Commented Sep 25, 2016 at 19:29

See vim-closetag

It's exactly what you're looking for. From it's README:

If this is the current content:


Now you press >, the content will be:


And now if you press > again, the content will be:


Note: | is the cursor here


Disclaimer This is not directly what you want but I think it can be worth it to mention it here.

If you are ready to use an additional plugin, you could try to use a snippet engine.

For example, Utlisnips comes with a lot of html snippets. For example, you can simply write div, press the key configured to trigger a snippet extension and you'll get the structure you're looking for.

Here are some (not all) of the snippets available. Note that you can easily add the ones you want:

- DocType XHTML 1.1
- HTML - 5.0 (doctype)
- IE Conditional Comment: Internet Explorer
- IE Conditional Comment: NOT Internet Explorer
- Input with Label
- Select Box
- XHTML   <textarea>
- XHTML <a mailto: >
- XHTML <base>
- <body>
- <div>
- <div> with class
- <div> with ID & class
- XHTML <form>
- XHTML <h1>
- XHTML <link>
- XHTML <meta>
- XHTML <script src...>
- XHTML <script>
- <span>
- <span> with class
- <span> with ID & class
- XHTML <style>
- XHTML <table>
- Link
- paragraph
- list item
- unordered list
- table cell
- table header
- table row

If a snippet plugin is overkill but you are still okay to use a plugin you can also try the emmet plugin which provides a syntax to shortcut your HTML/CSS and expand it easily.

You can see how it works here


The old and venerable closetag plugin automatically determines the current HTML / XML tag, and inserts a proper closing tag. It is triggered by Ctrl + _ by default.

I would not recommend automatic insertion; that's probably causing more problems than it solves. But this insert-mode mapping might help:

:imap > ><C-_><C-o>F<lt>

This plugin html.vim helps me a lot when editing html/xml files. The only thing you should do is save your currently edited file with .html extension.

  • Not necessarry to use the html extention. What if I'm using the twig template engine and want my files to end in .twig? It's set filetype that's important here.
    – Al.G.
    Commented Sep 27, 2016 at 17:15

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