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Learning the vi Editor

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B. ex Commands

This appendix describes the syntax of ex commands and then presents an alphabetical list of ex commands.

B.1 Command Syntax

To enter an ex command from vi , use this form:





address is the line number or range of lines that are the object of command . If no address is given, the current line is (usually) the object of the command.

B.1.1 Address Symbols

In ex command syntax, address can be specified in any of the forms shown in Table B.1 .

Table B.1: ex Address Syntax
Address Includes
1,$ All lines in the file
x ,y Lines x through y
x ;y

Lines x through y , with current line reset to x

0 Top of file
. Current line
n Absolute line number n
$ Last line
% All lines; same as 1,$
x-n n lines before x
x+n n lines after x
-[ n ] One or n lines previous
+[ n ] One or n lines ahead
'x Line marked with x
'' Previous mark
/ pat / or ? pat ? Ahead or back to line where pat matches

B.1.2 Option Symbols

In ex command syntax, options might be any of the following:


Indicates a variant form of the command, overriding the normal behavior.


The number of times the command is to be repeated. count cannot precede the command, because a number preceding an ex command is treated as a line address. d3 deletes three lines beginning with the current line; 3d deletes line 3.


The name of a file that is affected by the command. %  stands for current file; # stands for previous file.

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