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


1. Introduction print-intro

On MS-Windows Vim can print your text on any installed printer. On other systems a PostScript file is produced. This can be directly sent to a PostScript printer. For other printers a program like ghostscript needs to be used.
Note: If you have problems printing with :hardcopy, an alternative is to use :TOhtml and print the resulting html file from a browser.
:ha :hardcopy E237 E238 E324 :[range]ha[rdcopy][!] [arguments] Send [range] lines (default whole file) to the printer.
On MS-Windows a dialog is displayed to allow selection of printer, paper size etc. To skip the dialog, use the [!]. In this case the printer defined by 'printdevice' is used, or, if 'printdevice' is empty, the system default printer.
For systems other than MS-Windows, PostScript is written in a temp file and 'printexpr' is used to actually print it. Then [arguments] can be used by 'printexpr' through v:cmdarg. Otherwise [arguments] is ignored. 'printoptions' can be used to specify paper size, duplex, etc. Note: If you want PDF, there are tools such as "ps2pdf" that can convert the PostScript to PDF.
:[range]ha[rdcopy][!] >{filename} As above, but write the resulting PostScript in file {filename}. Things like "%" are expanded cmdline-special Careful: An existing file is silently overwritten. On MS-Windows use the "print to file" feature of the printer driver.
Progress is displayed during printing as a page number and a percentage. To abort printing use the interrupt key (CTRL-C or, on MS-systems, CTRL-Break).
Printer output is controlled by the 'printfont' and 'printoptions' options. 'printheader' specifies the format of a page header.
The printed file is always limited to the selected margins, irrespective of the current window's 'wrap' or 'linebreak' settings. The "wrap" item in 'printoptions' can be used to switch wrapping off. The current highlighting colors are used in the printout, with the following considerations: 1) The normal background is always rendered as white (i.e. blank paper). 2) White text or the default foreground is rendered as black, so that it shows up! 3) If 'background' is "dark", then the colours are darkened to compensate for the fact that otherwise they would be too bright to show up clearly on white paper.

2. Print options print-options

Here are the details for the options that change the way printing is done. For generic info about setting options see options.txt.
pdev-option 'printdevice' 'pdev' string (default empty) global This defines the name of the printer to be used when the :hardcopy command is issued with a bang (!) to skip the printer selection dialog. On Win32, it should be the printer name exactly as it appears in the standard printer dialog. If the option is empty, then vim will use the system default printer for ":hardcopy!"
penc-option E620 'printencoding' 'penc' String (default empty, except for: Windows: cp1252, Macintosh: mac-roman, HPUX: hp-roman8) global Sets the character encoding used when printing. This option tells Vim which print character encoding file from the "print" directory in 'runtimepath' to use.
This option will accept any value from encoding-names. Any recognized names are converted to Vim standard names - see 'encoding' for more details. Names not recognized by Vim will just be converted to lower case and underscores replaced with '-' signs.
If 'printencoding' is empty or Vim cannot find the file then it will use 'encoding' (if it is set an 8-bit encoding) to find the print character encoding file. If Vim is unable to find a character encoding file then it will use the "latin1" print character encoding file.
When 'encoding' is set to a multibyte encoding, Vim will try to convert characters to the printing encoding for printing (if 'printencoding' is empty then the conversion will be to latin1). If no conversion is possible then printing will fail. Any characters that cannot be converted will be replaced with upside down question marks.
Two print character encoding files are provided to support default Mac and HPUX character encodings and are used by default on these platforms. Code page 1252 print character encoding is used by default on the Windows platform.
pexpr-option 'printexpr' 'pexpr' String (default: see below) global Expression that is evaluated to print the PostScript produced with :hardcopy. The file name to be printed is in v:fname_in. The arguments to the ":hardcopy" command are in v:cmdarg. The expression must take care of deleting the file after printing it. When there is an error, the expression must return a non-zero number. If there is no error, return zero or an empty string. The default for non MS-Windows systems is to simply use "lpr" to print the file:
       + (empty(&printdevice)?[]:['-P', &printdevice])
       + [v:fname_in])
.. delete(v:fname_in)
+ v:shell_error
On MS-Dos and MS-Windows machines the default is to copy the file to the currently specified printdevice:
system(['copy', v:fname_in, empty(&printdevice)?'LPT1':&printdevice])
.. delete(v:fname_in)
If you change this option, using a function is an easy way to avoid having to escape all the spaces. Example:
:set printexpr=PrintFile(v:fname_in)
:function PrintFile(fname)
:  call system("ghostview " .. a:fname)
:  call delete(a:fname)
:  return v:shell_error
Be aware that some print programs return control before they have read the file. If you delete the file too soon it will not be printed. These programs usually offer an option to have them remove the file when printing is done. E365 If evaluating the expression fails or it results in a non-zero number, you get an error message. In that case Vim will delete the file. In the default value for non-MS-Windows a trick is used: Adding "v:shell_error" will result in a non-zero number when the system() call fails.
This option cannot be set from a modeline or in the sandbox, for security reasons.
pfn-option E613 'printfont' 'pfn' string (default "courier") global This is the name of the font that will be used for the :hardcopy command's output. It has the same format as the 'guifont' option, except that only one font may be named, and the special "guifont=*" syntax is not available.
In the Win32 GUI version this specifies a font name with its extra attributes, as with the 'guifont' option.
For other systems, only ":h11" is recognized, where "11" is the point size of the font. When omitted, the point size is 10.
pheader-option 'printheader' 'pheader' string (default "%<%f%h%m%=Page %N") global This defines the format of the header produced in :hardcopy output. The option is defined in the same way as the 'statusline' option. The same simple header is used when this option is empty.
pmbcs-option 'printmbcharset' 'pmbcs' string (default "") global Sets the CJK character set to be used when generating CJK output from :hardcopy. The following predefined values are currently recognised by Vim:
Value Description
Chinese GB_2312-80 (Simplified) GBT_12345-90 MAC Apple Mac Simplified Chinese GBT-90_MAC GB/T 12345-90 Apple Mac Simplified Chinese GBK GBK (GB 13000.1-93) ISO10646 ISO 10646-1:1993
Chinese CNS_1993 CNS 11643-1993, Planes 1 & 2 (Traditional) BIG5 ETEN Big5 with ETen extensions ISO10646 ISO 10646-1:1993
Japanese JIS_C_1978 JIS_X_1983 JIS_X_1990 MSWINDOWS Win3.1/95J (JIS X 1997 + NEC + IBM extensions) KANJITALK6 Apple Mac KanjiTalk V6.x KANJITALK7 Apple Mac KanjiTalk V7.x
Korean KS_X_1992 MAC Apple Macintosh Korean MSWINDOWS KS X 1992 with MS extensions ISO10646 ISO 10646-1:1993
Only certain combinations of the above values and 'printencoding' are possible. The following tables show the valid combinations:
euc-cn gbk ucs-2 utf-8
Chinese GB_2312-80 x (Simplified) GBT_12345-90 x MAC x GBT-90_MAC x GBK x ISO10646 x x
euc-tw big5 ucs-2 utf-8
Chinese CNS_1993 x (Traditional) BIG5 x ETEN x ISO10646 x x
euc-jp sjis ucs-2 utf-8
Japanese JIS_C_1978 x x JIS_X_1983 x x JIS_X_1990 x x x MSWINDOWS x KANJITALK6 x KANJITALK7 x
euc-kr cp949 ucs-2 utf-8
Korean KS_X_1992 x MAC x MSWINDOWS x ISO10646 x x
To set up the correct encoding and character set for printing some Japanese text you would do the following;
:set printencoding=euc-jp
:set printmbcharset=JIS_X_1983
If 'printmbcharset' is not one of the above values then it is assumed to specify a custom multibyte character set and no check will be made that it is compatible with the value for 'printencoding'. Vim will look for a file defining the character set in the "print" directory in 'runtimepath'.
pmbfn-option 'printmbfont' 'pmbfn' string (default "") global This is a comma-separated list of fields for font names to be used when generating CJK output from :hardcopy. Each font name has to be preceded with a letter indicating the style the font is to be used for as follows:
r:{font-name} font to use for normal characters b:{font-name} font to use for bold characters i:{font-name} font to use for italic characters o:{font-name} font to use for bold-italic characters
A field with the r: prefix must be specified when doing CJK printing. The other fontname specifiers are optional. If a specifier is missing then another font will be used as follows:
if b: is missing, then use r: if i: is missing, then use r: if o: is missing, then use b:
Some CJK fonts do not contain characters for codes in the ASCII code range. Also, some characters in the CJK ASCII code ranges differ in a few code points from traditional ASCII characters. There are two additional fields to control printing of characters in the ASCII code range.
c:yes Use Courier font for characters in the ASCII c:no (default) code range.
a:yes Use ASCII character set for codes in the ASCII a:no (default) code range.
The following is an example of specifying two multibyte fonts, one for normal and italic printing and one for bold and bold-italic printing, and using Courier to print codes in the ASCII code range but using the national character set:
:set printmbfont=r:WadaMin-Regular,b:WadaMin-Bold,c:yes
popt-option 'printoptions' 'popt' string (default "") global This is a comma-separated list of items that control the format of the output of :hardcopy:
left:{spec} left margin (default: 10pc) right:{spec} right margin (default: 5pc) top:{spec} top margin (default: 5pc) bottom:{spec} bottom margin (default: 5pc) {spec} is a number followed by "in" for inches, "pt" for points (1 point is 1/72 of an inch), "mm" for millimeters or "pc" for a percentage of the media size. Weird example: left:2in,top:30pt,right:16mm,bottom:3pc If the unit is not recognized there is no error and the default value is used.
header:{nr} Number of lines to reserve for the header. Only the first line is actually filled, thus when {nr} is 2 there is one empty line. The header is formatted according to 'printheader'. header:0 Do not print a header. header:2 (default) Use two lines for the header
syntax:n Do not use syntax highlighting. This is faster and thus useful when printing large files. syntax:y Do syntax highlighting. syntax:a (default) Use syntax highlighting if the printer appears to be able to print color or grey.
number:y Include line numbers in the printed output. number:n (default) No line numbers.
wrap:y (default) Wrap long lines. wrap:n Truncate long lines.
duplex:off Print on one side. duplex:long (default) Print on both sides (when possible), bind on long side. duplex:short Print on both sides (when possible), bind on short side.
collate:y (default) Collating: 1 2 3, 1 2 3, 1 2 3 collate:n No collating: 1 1 1, 2 2 2, 3 3 3
jobsplit:n (default) Do all copies in one print job jobsplit:y Do each copy as a separate print job. Useful when doing N-up postprocessing.
portrait:y (default) Orientation is portrait. portrait:n Orientation is landscape. a4 letter paper:A4 (default) Paper size: A4 paper:{name} Paper size from this table:
{name} size in cm size in inch
10x14 25.4 x 35.57 10 x 14 A3 29.7 x 42 11.69 x 16.54 A4 21 x 29.7 8.27 x 11.69 A5 14.8 x 21 5.83 x 8.27 B4 25 x 35.3 10.12 x 14.33 B5 17.6 x 25 7.17 x 10.12 executive 18.42 x 26.67 7.25 x 10.5 folio 21 x 33 8.27 x 13 ledger 43.13 x 27.96 17 x 11 legal 21.59 x 35.57 8.5 x 14 letter 21.59 x 27.96 8.5 x 11 quarto 21.59 x 27.5 8.5 x 10.83 statement 13.97 x 21.59 5.5 x 8.5 tabloid 27.96 x 43.13 11 x 17
formfeed:n (default) Treat form feed characters (0x0c) as a normal print character. formfeed:y When a form feed character is encountered, continue printing of the current line at the beginning of the first line on a new page.
The item indicated with (default) is used when the item is not present. The values are not always used, especially when using a dialog to select the printer and options. Example:
:set printoptions=paper:letter,duplex:off

3. PostScript Printing postscript-printing

E455 E456 E457 E624 Provided you have enough disk space there should be no problems generating a PostScript file. You need to have the runtime files correctly installed (if you can find the help files, they probably are).
There are currently a number of limitations with PostScript printing:
'printfont' - The font name is ignored (the Courier family is always used - it should be available on all PostScript printers) but the font size is used.
'printoptions' - The duplex setting is used when generating PostScript output, but it is up to the printer to take notice of the setting. If the printer does not support duplex printing then it should be silently ignored. Some printers, however, don't print at all.
8-bit support - While a number of 8-bit print character encodings are supported it is possible that some characters will not print. Whether a character will print depends on the font in the printer knowing the character. Missing characters will be replaced with an upside down question mark, or a space if that character is also not known by the font. It may be possible to get all the characters in an encoding to print by installing a new version of the Courier font family.
Multi-byte support - Currently Vim will try to convert multibyte characters to the 8-bit encoding specified by 'printencoding' (or latin1 if it is empty). Any characters that are not successfully converted are shown as unknown characters. Printing will fail if Vim cannot convert the multibyte to the 8-bit encoding.

4. Custom 8-bit Print Character Encodings postscript-print-encoding

E618 E619 To use your own print character encoding when printing 8-bit character data you need to define your own PostScript font encoding vector. Details on how to define a font encoding vector is beyond the scope of this help file, but you can find details in the PostScript Language Reference Manual, 3rd Edition, published by Addison-Wesley and available in PDF form at The following describes what you need to do for Vim to locate and use your print character encoding.
i. Decide on a unique name for your encoding vector, one that does not clash with any of the recognized or standard encoding names that Vim uses (see encoding-names for a list), and that no one else is likely to use. ii. Copy $VIMRUNTIME/print/ to the print subdirectory in your 'runtimepath' and rename it with your unique name. iii. Edit your renamed copy of, replacing all occurrences of latin1 with your unique name (don't forget the line starting %%Title:), and modify the array of glyph names to define your new encoding vector. The array must have exactly 256 entries or you will not be able to print! iv. Within Vim, set 'printencoding' to your unique encoding name and then print your file. Vim will now use your custom print character encoding.
Vim will report an error with the resource file if you change the order or content of the first 3 lines, other than the name of the encoding on the line starting %%Title: or the version number on the line starting %%Version:.
[Technical explanation for those that know PostScript - Vim looks for a file with the same name as the encoding it will use when printing. The file defines a new PostScript Encoding resource called /VIM-name, where name is the print character encoding Vim will use.]

5. PostScript CJK Printing postscript-cjk-printing

E673 E674 E675
Vim supports printing of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean files. Setting up Vim to correctly print CJK files requires setting up a few more options.
Each of these countries has many standard character sets and encodings which require that both be specified when printing. In addition, CJK fonts normally do not have the concept of italic glyphs and use different weight or stroke style to achieve emphasis when printing. This in turn requires a different approach to specifying fonts to use when printing.
The encoding and character set are specified with the 'printencoding' and 'printmbcharset' options. If 'printencoding' is not specified then 'encoding' is used as normal. If 'printencoding' is specified then characters will be translated to this encoding for printing. You should ensure that the encoding is compatible with the character set needed for the file contents or some characters may not appear when printed.
The fonts to use for CJK printing are specified with 'printmbfont'. This option allows you to specify different fonts to use when printing characters which are syntax highlighted with the font styles normal, italic, bold and bold-italic.
Please read your printer documentation on how to install new fonts.
CJK fonts can be large containing several thousand glyphs, and it is not uncommon to find that they only contain a subset of a national standard. It is not unusual to find the fonts to not include characters for codes in the ASCII code range. If you find half-width Roman characters are not appearing in your printout then you should configure Vim to use the Courier font the half-width ASCII characters with 'printmbfont'. If your font does not include other characters then you will need to find another font that does.
Another issue with ASCII characters, is that the various national character sets specify a couple of different glyphs in the ASCII code range. If you print ASCII text using the national character set you may see some unexpected characters. If you want true ASCII code printing then you need to configure Vim to output ASCII characters for the ASCII code range with 'printmbfont'.
It is possible to define your own multibyte character set although this should not be attempted lightly. A discussion on the process if beyond the scope of these help files. You can find details on CMap (character map) files in the document 'Adobe CMap and CIDFont Files Specification, Version 1.0', available from as a PDF file.

6. PostScript Printing Troubleshooting postscript-print-trouble

E621 Usually the only sign of a problem when printing with PostScript is that your printout does not appear. If you are lucky you may get a printed page that tells you the PostScript operator that generated the error that prevented the print job completing.
There are a number of possible causes as to why the printing may have failed:
Wrong version of the prolog resource file. The prolog resource file contains some PostScript that Vim needs to be able to print. Each version of Vim needs one particular version. Make sure you have correctly installed the runtime files, and don't have any old versions of a file called prolog in the print directory in your 'runtimepath' directory.
Paper size. Some PostScript printers will abort printing a file if they do not support the requested paper size. By default Vim uses A4 paper. Find out what size paper your printer normally uses and set the appropriate paper size with 'printoptions'. If you cannot find the name of the paper used, measure a sheet and compare it with the table of supported paper sizes listed for 'printoptions', using the paper that is closest in both width AND height. Note: The dimensions of actual paper may vary slightly from the ones listed. If there is no paper listed close enough, then you may want to try psresize from PSUtils, discussed below.
Two-sided printing (duplex). Normally a PostScript printer that does not support two-sided printing will ignore any request to do it. However, some printers may abort the job altogether. Try printing with duplex turned off. Note: Duplex prints can be achieved manually using PS utils - see below.
Collated printing. As with Duplex printing, most PostScript printers that do not support collating printouts will ignore a request to do so. Some may not. Try printing with collation turned off.
Syntax highlighting. Some print management code may prevent the generated PostScript file from being printed on a black and white printer when syntax highlighting is turned on, even if solid black is the only color used. Try printing with syntax highlighting turned off.
A safe printoptions setting to try is:
:set printoptions=paper:A4,duplex:off,collate:n,syntax:n
Replace "A4" with the paper size that best matches your printer paper.

7. PostScript Utilities postscript-print-util

7.1 Ghostscript
Ghostscript is a PostScript and PDF interpreter that can be used to display and print on non-PostScript printers PostScript and PDF files. It can also generate PDF files from PostScript.
Ghostscript will run on a wide variety of platforms. Information on Ghostscript can be found at:
Support for a number of non PostScript printers is provided in the distribution as standard, but if you cannot find support for your printer check the Ghostscript site for other printers not included by default.
7.2 Ghostscript Previewers.
The interface to Ghostscript is very primitive so a number of graphical front ends have been created. These allow easier PostScript file selection, previewing at different zoom levels, and printing. Check supplied documentation for full details.


It is possible to achieve a poor man's version of duplex printing using the PS utility psselect. This utility has options -e and -o for printing just the even or odd pages of a PS file respectively.
First generate a PS file with the ":hardcopy" command, then generate new files with all the odd and even numbered pages with:
psselect -o
psselect -e
Next print with your platform's normal print command. Then take the print output, turn it over and place it back in the paper feeder. Now print with your platform's print command. All the even pages should now appear on the back of the odd pages.
There are a couple of points to bear in mind:
1. Position of the first page. If the first page is on top of the printout when printing the odd pages then you need to reverse the order that the odd pages are printed. This can be done with the -r option to psselect. This will ensure page 2 is printed on the back of page 1. Note: it is better to reverse the odd numbered pages rather than the even numbered in case there are an odd number of pages in the original PS file.
2. Paper flipping. When turning over the paper with the odd pages printed on them you may have to either flip them horizontally (along the long edge) or vertically (along the short edge), as well as possibly rotating them 180 degrees. All this depends on the printer - it will be more obvious for desktop ink jets than for small office laser printers where the paper path is hidden from view.

8. Formfeed Characters printing-formfeed

By default Vim does not do any special processing of formfeed control characters. Setting the 'printoptions' formfeed item will make Vim recognize formfeed characters and continue printing the current line at the beginning of the first line on a new page. The use of formfeed characters provides rudimentary print control but there are certain things to be aware of.
Vim will always start printing a line (including a line number if enabled) containing a formfeed character, even if it is the first character on the line. This means if a line starting with a formfeed character is the first line of a page then Vim will print a blank page.
Since the line number is printed at the start of printing the line containing the formfeed character, the remainder of the line printed on the new page will not have a line number printed for it (in the same way as the wrapped lines of a long line when wrap in 'printoptions' is enabled).
If the formfeed character is the last character on a line, then printing will continue on the second line of the new page, not the first. This is due to Vim processing the end of the line after the formfeed character and moving down a line to continue printing.
Due to the points made above it is recommended that when formfeed character processing is enabled, printing of line numbers is disabled, and that form feed characters are not the last character on a line. Even then you may need to adjust the number of lines before a formfeed character to prevent accidental blank pages.
Commands index
Quick reference