Helphelp

Nvim :help pages, generated from source using the tree-sitter-vimdoc parser.


Help on help files

1. Help commands online-help

help <Help> :h :help <F1> i_<F1> i_<Help> <Help> or :h[elp] Open a window and display the help file in read-only mode. If there is a help window open already, use that one. Otherwise, if the current window uses the full width of the screen or is at least 80 characters wide, the help window will appear just above the current window. Otherwise the new window is put at the very top. The 'helplang' option is used to select a language, if the main help file is available in several languages.
{subject} E149 E661 :h[elp] {subject} Like ":help", additionally jump to the tag {subject}. For example:
:help options
{subject} can include wildcards such as "*", "?" and "[a-z]": :help z? jump to help for any "z" command :help z. jump to the help for "z." But when a tag exists it is taken literally: :help :? jump to help for ":?"
If there is no full match for the pattern, or there are several matches, the "best" match will be used. A sophisticated algorithm is used to decide which match is better than another one. These items are considered in the computation:
A match with same case is much better than a match with different case.
A match that starts after a non-alphanumeric character is better than a match in the middle of a word.
A match at or near the beginning of the tag is better than a match further on.
The more alphanumeric characters match, the better.
The shorter the length of the match, the better.
The 'helplang' option is used to select a language, if the {subject} is available in several languages. To find a tag in a specific language, append "@ab", where "ab" is the two-letter language code. See help-translated.
Note that the longer the {subject} you give, the less matches will be found. You can get an idea how this all works by using commandline completion (type CTRL-D after ":help subject" c_CTRL-D). If there are several matches, you can have them listed by hitting CTRL-D. Example:
:help cont<Ctrl-D>
Instead of typing ":help CTRL-V" to search for help for CTRL-V you can type:
:help ^V
This also works together with other characters, for example to find help for CTRL-V in Insert mode:
:help i^V
It is also possible to first do ":help" and then use ":tag {pattern}" in the help window. The ":tnext" command can then be used to jump to other matches, "tselect" to list matches and choose one.
:help index
:tselect /.*mode
When there is no argument you will see matches for "help", to avoid listing all possible matches (that would be very slow). The number of matches displayed is limited to 300.
The :help command can be followed by '|' and another command, but you don't need to escape the '|' inside a help command. So these both work:
:help |
:help k| only
Note that a space before the '|' is seen as part of the ":help" argument. You can also use <NL> or <CR> to separate the help command from a following command. You need to type CTRL-V first to insert the <NL> or <CR>. Example:
:help so<C-V><CR>only
:h[elp]! [subject] Like ":help", but in non-English help files prefer to find a tag in a file with the same language as the current file. See help-translated.
:helpc :helpclose :helpc[lose] Close one help window, if there is one. Vim will try to restore the window layout (including cursor position) to the same layout it was before opening the help window initially. This might cause triggering several autocommands.
:helpg :helpgrep :helpg[rep] {pattern}[@xx] Search all help text files and make a list of lines in which {pattern} matches. Jumps to the first match. The optional [@xx] specifies that only matches in the "xx" language are to be found. You can navigate through the matches with the quickfix commands, e.g., :cnext to jump to the next one. Or use :cwindow to get the list of matches in the quickfix window. {pattern} is used as a Vim regexp pattern. 'ignorecase' is not used, add "\c" to ignore case. Example for case sensitive search:
:helpgrep Uganda
Example for case ignoring search:
:helpgrep uganda\c
Example for searching in French help:
:helpgrep [email protected]
The pattern does not support line breaks, it must match within one line. You can use :grep instead, but then you need to get the list of help files in a complicated way. Cannot be followed by another command, everything is used as part of the pattern. But you can use :execute when needed. Compressed help files will not be searched (Fedora compresses the help files).
:lh :lhelpgrep :lh[elpgrep] {pattern}[@xx] Same as ":helpgrep", except the location list is used instead of the quickfix list. If the help window is already opened, then the location list for that window is used. Otherwise, a new help window is opened and the location list for that window is set. The location list for the current window is not changed then.
:exu :exusage :exu[sage] Show help on Ex commands. Added to simulate the Nvi command.
:viu :viusage :viu[sage] Show help on Normal mode commands. Added to simulate the Nvi command.
When no argument is given to :help the file given with the 'helpfile' option will be opened. Otherwise the specified tag is searched for in all "doc/tags" files in the directories specified in the 'runtimepath' option.
If you would like to open the help in the current window, see this tip: help-curwin.
The initial height of the help window can be set with the 'helpheight' option (default 20). help-buffer-options When the help buffer is created, several local options are set to make sure the help text is displayed as it was intended: 'iskeyword' nearly all ASCII chars except ' ', '', '"' and '|' 'foldmethod' "manual" 'tabstop' 8 'arabic' off 'binary' off 'buflisted' off 'cursorbind' off 'diff' off 'foldenable' off 'list' off 'modifiable' off 'number' off 'relativenumber' off 'rightleft' off 'scrollbind' off 'spell' off
Jump to specific subjects by using tags. This can be done in two ways:
Use the "CTRL-]" command while standing on the name of a command or option. This only works when the tag is a keyword. "<C-Leftmouse>" and "g<LeftMouse>" work just like "CTRL-]".
use the ":ta {subject}" command. This also works with non-keyword characters.
Use CTRL-T or CTRL-O to jump back. Use ":q" to close the help window.
If there are several matches for an item you are looking for, this is how you can jump to each one of them: 1. Open a help window 2. Use the ":tag" command with a slash prepended to the tag. E.g.:
:tag /min
3. Use ":tnext" to jump to the next matching tag.
It is possible to add help files for plugins and other items. You don't need to change the distributed help files for that. See add-local-help.
To write a local help file, see write-local-help.
Note that the title lines from the local help files are automagically added to This is done when viewing the file in Vim, the file itself is not changed. It is done by going through all help files and obtaining the first line of each file. The files in $VIMRUNTIME/doc are skipped.
:helpt :helptags E150 E151 E152 E153 E154 E670 E856 :helpt[ags] [++t] {dir} Generate the help tags file(s) for directory {dir}. When {dir} is ALL then all "doc" directories in 'runtimepath' will be used.
All "*.txt" and "*.??x" files in the directory and sub-directories are scanned for a help tag definition in between stars. The "*.??x" files are for translated docs, they generate the "tags-??" file, see help-translated. The generated tags files are sorted. When there are duplicates an error message is given. An existing tags file is silently overwritten.
The optional "++t" argument forces adding the "help-tags" tag. This is also done when the {dir} is equal to $VIMRUNTIME/doc.
To rebuild the help tags in the runtime directory (requires write permission there):
:helptags $VIMRUNTIME/doc

2. Translated help files help-translated

It is possible to add translated help files, next to the original English help files. Vim will search for all help in "doc" directories in 'runtimepath'.
At this moment translations are available for: Chinese - multiple authors French - translated by David Blanchet Italian - translated by Antonio Colombo Japanese - multiple authors Polish - translated by Mikolaj Machowski Russian - translated by Vassily Ragosin See the Vim website to find them: https://www.vim.org/translations.php
A set of translated help files consists of these files:
help.abx howto.abx ... tags-ab
"ab" is the two-letter language code. Thus for Italian the names are:
help.itx howto.itx ... tags-it
The 'helplang' option can be set to the preferred language(s). The default is set according to the environment. Vim will first try to find a matching tag in the preferred language(s). English is used when it cannot be found.
To find a tag in a specific language, append "@ab" to a tag, where "ab" is the two-letter language code. Example:
:he [email protected]
:he [email protected]
The first one finds the Italian user manual, even when 'helplang' is empty. The second one finds the English user manual, even when 'helplang' is set to "it".
When using command-line completion for the ":help" command, the "@en" extension is only shown when a tag exists for multiple languages. When the tag only exists for English "@en" is omitted. When the first candidate has an "@ab" extension and it matches the first language in 'helplang' "@ab" is also omitted.
When using CTRL-] or ":help!" in a non-English help file Vim will try to find the tag in the same language. If not found then 'helplang' will be used to select a language.
Help files must use latin1 or utf-8 encoding. Vim assumes the encoding is utf-8 when finding non-ASCII characters in the first line. Thus you must translate the header with "For Vim version".
The same encoding must be used for the help files of one language in one directory. You can use a different encoding for different languages and use a different encoding for help files of the same language but in a different directory.
Hints for translators:
Do not translate the tags. This makes it possible to use 'helplang' to specify the preferred language. You may add new tags in your language.
When you do not translate a part of a file, add tags to the English version, using the "[email protected]" notation.
Make a package with all the files and the tags file available for download. Users can drop it in one of the "doc" directories and start use it. Report this to Bram, so that he can add a link on www.vim.org.
Use the :helptags command to generate the tags files. It will find all languages in the specified directory.

3. Writing help files help-writing

For ease of use, a Vim help file for a plugin should follow the format of the standard Vim help files, except for the first line. If you are writing a new help file it's best to copy one of the existing files and use it as a template.
The first line in a help file should have the following format:
plugin_name.txt {short description of the plugin}
The first field is a help tag where ":help plugin_name" will jump to. The remainder of the line, after a Tab, describes the plugin purpose in a short way. This will show up in the "LOCAL ADDITIONS" section of the main help
If you want to add a version number or last modification date, put it in the second line, right aligned.
At the bottom of the help file, place a Vim modeline to set the 'textwidth' and 'tabstop' options and the 'filetype' to "help". Never set a global option in such a modeline, that can have undesired consequences.

TAGS

To define a help tag, place the name between asterisks (tag-name). The tag-name should be different from all the Vim help tag names and ideally should begin with the name of the Vim plugin. The tag name is usually right aligned on a line.
When referring to an existing help tag and to create a hot-link, place the name between two bars (|) eg. help-writing.
When referring to a Vim command and to create a hot-link, place the name between two backticks, eg. inside :filetype. You will see this is highlighted as a command, like a code block (see below).
When referring to a Vim option in the help file, place the option name between two single quotes, eg. 'statusline'
When referring to any other technical term, such as a filename or function parameter, surround it in backticks, eg. ~/.path/to/init.vim.

HIGHLIGHTING

To define a column heading, use a tilde character at the end of the line. This will highlight the column heading in a different color. E.g.
Column heading~
To separate sections in a help file, place a series of '=' characters in a line starting from the first column. The section separator line is highlighted differently.
help-codeblock To quote a block of ex-commands verbatim, place a greater than (>) character at the end of the line before the block and a less than (<) character as the first non-blank on a line following the block. Any line starting in column 1 also implicitly stops the block of ex-commands before it. E.g.
function Example_Func()
    echo "Example"
endfunction
The following are highlighted differently in a Vim help file:
a special key name expressed either in <> notation as in <PageDown>, or as a Ctrl character as in CTRL-X
anything between {braces}, e.g. {lhs} and {rhs}
The word "Note", "Notes" and similar automagically receive distinctive highlighting. So do these: Todo something to do Error something wrong
You can find the details in $VIMRUNTIME/syntax/help.vim
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