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Indent Guides

Indent Guides is a plugin for visually displaying indent levels in Vim.


  • Can detect both tab and space indent styles.
  • Automatically inspects your colorscheme and picks appropriate colors (gVim only).
  • Will highlight indent levels with alternating colors.
  • Full support for gVim and basic support for Terminal Vim.
  • Seems to work on Windows gVim 7.3 (haven't done any extensive tests though).
  • NEW: Customizable size for indent guides, eg. skinny guides (soft-tabs only).
  • NEW: Customizable start indent level.


  • Vim 7.2+


To install the plugin just copy autoload, plugin, doc directories into your .vim directory.

Alternatively if you have Pathogen installed, just clone this repo into a subdirectory of your .vim/bundle directory like so:

cd ~/.vim/bundle
git clone git://


The default mapping to toggle the plugin is <Leader>ig


This plugin should work with gVim out of the box, no configuration needed. It will automatically inspect your colorscheme and pick appropriate colors.

Setting custom indent colors

Here's an example of how to define custom colors instead of using the ones the plugin automatically generates for you. Add this to your .vimrc file:

let g:indent_guides_auto_colors = 0
autocmd VimEnter,Colorscheme * :hi IndentGuidesOdd  guibg=red   ctermbg=3
autocmd VimEnter,Colorscheme * :hi IndentGuidesEven guibg=green ctermbg=4

Terminal Vim

At the moment Terminal Vim only has basic support. This means is that colors won't be automatically calculated based on your colorscheme. Instead, some preset colors are used depending on whether background is set to dark or light.

When set background=dark is used, the following highlight colors will be defined:

hi IndentGuidesEven ctermbg=darkgrey
hi IndentGuidesOdd  ctermbg=black

Alternatively, when set background=light is used, the following highlight colors will be defined:

hi IndentGuidesEven ctermbg=lightgrey
hi IndentGuidesOdd  ctermbg=white

If for some reason it's incorrectly defining light highlight colors instead of dark ones or vice versa, the first thing you should check is that the background value is being set correctly for your colorscheme. Sometimes it's best to manually set the background value in your .vimrc, for example:

colorscheme desert256
set background=dark

Alternatively you can manually setup the highlight colors yourself, see :help indent_guides_auto_colors for an example.


:help indent-guides


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