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Current HOWTO: C-editing-with-VIM-HOWTO

Formating automatically

5. Formating automatically

5.1. Restricting column width

One often has to restrict the column width to 80 or 75 or whatever. One can set this quite easily by using the command

	    :set textwidth=80

To do this automatically just put the command in your .vimrc.

In addition to textwidth you may want the text to wrap at a certain column. Often such choices are dictated by the terminal one is using or it could just be by choice. The command for such a case is

	    :set wrapwidth=60

The above command makes the text wrap at 60 columns.

5.2. Automatically indent code

While coding in C, one often indents inner-blocks of code. To do this automatically while coding, VIM has an option called cindent. To set this, just use the command

	    :set cindent

By setting cindent, code is automatically beautified. To set this command automatically, just add it to your .vimrc


VIM also allows you to auto-format comments. You can split comments into 3 stages: The first part, the middle part and the end part. For example your coding style requirements may require comments to be in the following style

	    * This is the comment

In such a case the following command can be used

	    :set comments=sl:/*,mb:*,elx:*/

Let me decipher the command for you. The commands has three parts. The first part is sl:/*. This tells VIM that three piece comments begin with /*. The next part tells VIM that the middle part of the comment is *. The last part of the command tells vim a couple of things. One that the command should end with */ and that it should automatically complete the comment when you hit just /.

Let me give another example. Lets say your coding guidelines are as follows

	    ** This is the comment

In such a situation you can use following command for comments

	    :set comments=sl:/*,mb:**,elx:*

to insert a comment just type /* and hit enter. The next line will automatically contain the **. After you've finished the comment just hit enter again and another ** will be inserted. However to end the comment you want a */ and not **/. VIM is quite clever here. You don't need to delete the last * and replace it with /. Instead, just hit / and VIM will recognise it as the end of the comment and will automatically change the line from ** to */.

For more info hit :h comments

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