Throw All Things Away

Using VIM to Write LaTeX in 2021

I have been using VIM (actually GVIM) to write papers with LaTeX for almost a decade now. My setup for this has not changed for most of the time. One advantage of using VIM is that once you have learned it, you can expect to use it for a life time.

That been said, a decade seems to be a good time to have an update. So here's my new VIM setup for LaTeX in 2021 and perhaps for the next decade.

Install plugins

VIM 8 has quite a convenient plugin system vim-plug. Here are the plugins which I have installed for LaTeX (all codes snippets are from my .vimrc file)

Plug 'neoclide/coc.nvim', {'branch': 'release'}
Plug 'honza/vim-snippets'

Plug 'lervag/vimtex'

Plug 'ludovicchabant/vim-gutentags'
Plug 'airblade/vim-gitgutter'
Plug 'tpope/vim-surround' 
Plug 'Chiel92/vim-autoformat'


I installed coc for auto-completions. The example configuration on the website works quite well. To make it work better with LaTeX, you should install the extension coc-texlab.

coc-texlab also provides some extra functions such as basic syntax check. But by default, the parts where there is a warning are marked by an underline. This is confusing as there are many "_" in a math paper. So I chanced to curly underline by

hi default CocUnderline cterm=underline gui=undercurl

Together with vim-snippets, coc also provides code snippets. To make it work, install coc-snippets. Again the recommended setup works well.


vimtex is package which provides some help in editing LaTeX and compling. Install coc-vimtex to make it a source of completion for coc. A nice feature of vimtex is the auto-completion for citations.

Other plugins

Two other plugins which I find useful are

Random labels

Some times I have many equations in a paper and I found it tedious to think names for all of them. So I created a function to generate random labels

" Insert random labels
function! RandomLabel()
python3 << EOF
import random, string, vim
label = ''.join(random.choice(string.ascii_uppercase) for _ in range(4))
vim.command("let @z = '%s'" % label)
vmap ,rl <Esc>:call RandomLabel()<CR>gv"zp
imap ,rl <Esc>:call RandomLabel()<CR>a<C-R>z

More useful tips

The website is a treasure for all things about LaTeX. It also has some useful tips for using VIM to write LaTeX. Here are some of my favourites

First published: 2021-02-18

Tags: programming vim LaTeX