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Texing in Vim

January 26, 2022

I rarely have to write $\LaTeX$ these days. I usually let Pandoc do the harder stuff, and simply write my plain text documents using Org or Markdown markup language. I used to rely on $\LaTeX$ in the case of R+Sweave/knitr reports, but I rarely have to write any statistical report these days. However, I may happen to write plain $\TeX$ or edit $\LaTeX$ documents, in which case I appreciate a solid workflow to edit, compile and keep my text in sync with the PDF renderer.

Under Emacs I had everything I needed thanks to Auctex and Pandoc, but under Vim I always used the bare minimum so far, that is native syntax highlighting and Vim motion. I don’t use snippets but I have a set of iabbrev that alleviates the need to write cumbersome and recurrent $\LaTeX$ expressions:

iabbrev <<@ <<LABEL>>=<CR>@<Esc>?LABEL<CR>cw
iabbrev chapter@ \begin{chapter}
iabbrev section@ \begin{section}
iabbrev subsection@ \begin{subsection}
iabbrev subsubsection@ \begin{subsubsection}
iabbrev paragraph@ \paragraph{TITLE}<Esc>?TITLE<CR>cw
iabbrev equation@ \begin{equation}<CR>
iabbrev align@ \begin{align}
iabbrev tabular@ \begin{tabular}{ALG}<CR><Esc>?ALG<CR>cw
iabbrev table@ \begin{table}[POS]<CR>\centering<CR>\caption{}<CR>\label{}<CR><Esc>?POS<CR>cw
" FIXME: Add figure environment
iabbrev texttt@ \texttt{DATA}<Esc>?DATA<CR>cw
iabbrev frac@ \frac{DATA}{}<Esc>?DATA<CR>cw

Enters Vimtex which I discovered when I was reading How I’m able to take notes in mathematics lectures using LaTeX and Vim a while ago. Note that vimtex+zathura is the winning combo here. Contrary to the author of the blog post, I don’t use concealing, nor snippets (see above).

Things I like: ]] will automagically close the current environment, Bibtex keys and labels can be autocompleted using builtin omnicomplete (C-x C-o), you can toggle on/off a table of contents in a dedicated sidebar, the % matching operator is redefined to highlight opening and closing $\LaTeX$ delimiters, you can compile and preview your file with pre-defined mappings, and there are specific motion operators (e.g., ic, id, ie, i$). And on top of that, you can use reverse (Ctrl+click from Zathura) and forward (<localleader>lr from Vim) search. And it just works! Zathura is configured as the defaut PDF viewer, and all you have to do is to ensure that synctex is active when compiling your $\LaTeX$ document. This is already defined in Vimtex default options. See also this review: A Complete Guide on Writing LaTeX with Vimtex in Neovim. (Note that you no longer need to spawn a server since Neovim 0.5+.)

To compile Knitr standalone documents, I use the following mapping:

map <localLeader>k :w<CR>:cd %:p:h <CR>:!Rscript -e 'library(knitr);knit("%:p")'<CR>:!latexmk -pdf -bibtex-cond -f %:r.tex <CR>:!xdg-open %:r.pdf <CR><CR>

This is basically what I have in my Makefile, except that I use texi2pdf instead of latexmk. My latexmk settings are as follows ($HOME/.latexmkrc):

@default_files = ('main.tex');
$clean_ext = "bbl nav out snm";

$latex = 'latex -interaction=nonstopmode -shell-escape';
$pdflatex = 'pdflatex -shell-escape -interaction=nonstopmode -synctex=1 -file-line-error';
$pdf_previewer = 'zathura';
set_tex_cmds('-synctex=1 -interaction=nonstopmode -shell-escape %O %S');

Finally, I use the Bibtex extension for Telescope, which provides a nice alternative to Helm-bibtex to display a list of available references (globally or in the current directory). Inserting the reference by pressing the enter key will take care of formatting the bibliographic key depending on the filetype (Markdown, Latex or plain text).


♪ Sonic Youth • The World Looks Red

vim tex

See Also

» Pandoc templates are great » Org in Vim » Neovim wrap up (6/n) » Vim on steroid (5/n) » Neovim useful plugins (4/n)