Line numbers are useful for identifying the beginning and end of large blocks of text you want to edit. Line numbers are also useful for programmers, since compiler error messages refer to line numbers. Line numbers are also used by ex commands, which you will learn in the next chapters.
If you are going to move by line numbers, you must
have a way to identify them.
Line numbers can be displayed on
the screen using the
nu option described in Chapter 7,
In vi, you can also display the current line number on the bottom
of the screen.
The command [CTRL-G] causes the following to be displayed at the bottom of your screen: the current line number, the total number of lines in the file, and what percentage of the total the present line number represents. For example, for the file practice, [CTRL-G] might display:
"practice" line 3 of 6 --50%--
[CTRL-G] is useful either for displaying the line number to use in a command or for orienting yourself if you have been distracted from your editing session.
You can use line numbers to move the cursor through a file.
G (go to) command uses a line number as a numeric argument
and moves directly to that line.
44G moves the cursor to
the beginning of line 44.
G without a line
number moves the cursor to the last line of the file.
Typing two backquotes (` `) returns you to your
original position (the position where you issued the last
command), unless you have done some edits in the meantime.
If you have made an edit, and then
moved the cursor using some command other than
G, ` ` will
return the cursor to the site of your last edit.
If you have issued a
search command (
?), ` ` will
return the cursor to its position when you started the search.
A pair of apostrophes (' ') works much like two backquotes,
except that it returns the cursor to the beginning of the line
instead of the exact position on that line where your cursor had
"practice" line 10 of 1000 --1%--
and know that you want to begin editing near the end of that file, you could give an approximation of your destination with:
Movement by line number is a tool that can move you quickly from place to place through a large file.