There are many different kinds of text objects in MuseScore (see tables below); text may also be found incorporated into lines. This chapter shows you how to create, format and edit text objects, and also includes information about the following types of text:
|Staff text||General purpose text attached to a single staff: appearing only in that instrument part.|
|System text||General purpose text attached to a single staff: appearing in all instrument parts.|
|Chord symbols||Display the chords associated with a melody: usually above the staff.|
|Fingering||Numbers or letters attached to notes showing which fingers to use.|
|Lyrics||Create lyrics attached to a melody.|
|Rehearsal marks||Facilitate rehearsals, divide score into sections, bookmark passages etc.|
For other types of text available in MuseScore, follow the links below:
|Dynamics||Indicate the loudness of a note or phrase.|
|Figured bass||Period notation for keyboarders.|
|Frame text||Title/composer/lyricist details at the start of a score; songsheet lyrics etc.|
|Headers/Footers||Page numbers, copyright info etc. at the top/bottom of a page.|
|Instrument text||Apply mid-staff instrument changes.|
|Repeats and jumps||Da Capo, Dal segno, Fine etc.|
|Roman Numeral Analysis (RNA)||A chord analysis system.|
|Sticking||Letters (L and R) attached to (drum) notes showing which hand or foot to use.|
|Swing text||Change from straight to swing time, and vice versa.|
|Tempo marks||Apply metronome and/or expression marks.|
|Text-lines||Voltas, ottavas, pedal lines, guitar barre lines etc.|
To add a text-based element to the score, use one of the following general methods:
When a text object is created in MuseScore, it assumes the corresponding Text Style: all staff text, for example, has a unique Text Style, as have tempo markings, dynamics, chord symbols etc. Each Text Style consists of a number of text properties (font-face, font-size, font-style etc.), which can be viewed, mainly, in the Text Styles dialog (Format→Style…→Text Styles).
A newly-created text object starts off with identical text properties to the Text Style. These can be viewed in the Inspector:
However, these text properties are not limited to those of the default Text Style: if need be, you can edit them in the Inspector independently of Text Style.
Finally, if you want to apply formatting to specific characters in a text object (font-face, font-size, Bold, Italic, Underline, superscript, subscript), you can do so in text edit mode.
To position a text object, use any of the following methods:
When you apply a text element to the score, its anchor position will depend on the type:
Text edit mode allows you to add or delete text, and apply formatting (e.g. bold, italic, underline etc.) to individual characters.
To enter Text edit mode use one of the following methods:
Note: Creating a new text object (see Text basics) also puts the program into text edit mode.
You can access the various formatting functions from the Text toolbar, which appears below the document window:
To exit Text edit mode use one of the following:
In Text edit mode, the following keyboard shortcuts are available:
You can use the Special Characters window to insert quarter notes, fractions, and many other kinds of special symbols or characters into your text. A few symbols can also be accessed by shortcut (see below).
To open Special Characters, use any of the following methods:
Note: (1) This only works in Text edit mode; (2) The Special Characters dialog should not be confused with the menu item of the same name in the macOS version of MuseScore.
The dialog is divided into 3 tabs: Common symbols, musical symbols and unicode symbols. The musical and unicode tabs are further subdivided into alphabetically-arranged categories.
Double-clicking an item in the Special Characters dialog immediately adds it to the text where the cursor is positioned. Multiple items can be applied without closing the dialog box, and the user can even continue to type normally, delete characters, enter numerical character codes etc., with it open.
In Text edit mode the following keyboard shortcuts can be used to access certain special characters:
When you create a text object, it initially assumes the properties of the Text Style applicable to its class. Staff text objects, for example, have their own style, as do tempo markings, lyrics, chord symbols, and so on.
To view and edit any Text Style: select Format→Style…→Text Styles. This gives you access to the following properties:
Corner radius: For box frame, radius of rounded corner.
Notes: Opacity is set by the parameter "Alpha channel" in the "Select Color" dialog: a value between 0, transparent, and 255, opaque.
Alternatively, you can edit the properties of a Text Style by selecting an object of the desired style in the score, adjusting its properties in the Inspector, and clicking the Set as style buttons as you go. This will automatically update the Text Style and all relevant text objects in the score.
If you have made changes to a particular text property in the Inspector, but want to revert that property to the Text Style definition, press the "Reset to style default" button.
Text Styles (together with all other styles in a document) can be saved as a style file and loaded into other MuseScore files. See Save and load style.
Staff Text or System Text is invaluable as general purpose text. To apply to the score, use one of the following methods:
This will create an empty bounding box for text entry. Press Esc or click on an empty space outside the box to exit.
Apart from their indicative use, staff and system text also have optional playback properties: see below.
Summary of differences:
|Text style||Applies to?||Playback (if applicable)||Appears in Instrument parts?|
|Staff text||Staff only||Staff only||Staff instrument only|
|System Text||All system staves||All system staves||All instruments|
Staff Text is applied to one staff (or Grand staff) in the score, and is indicative only for that staff; any playback effect associated with the text is limited in the same way. The text will appear in the corresponding instrument part.
If you choose to hide empty staves, any staff text belonging to an empty staff will also be hidden.
The regular properties of the text, such as font, size, italics etc, can be viewed and updated directly in the inspector, but staff text can also also have properties related to playback.
Staff text can, for example, be used to apply indications such as Solo or Pizzicato to one staff in a score. Depending on what the instruction of the staff text is, playback of that staff at the text location can sometimes be altered to match the instruction. The playback properties of a staff text can be accessed in two ways:
The dialog window that opens contains tabs for the following playback properties:
When staff text is copied and pasted elsewhere in the score, or if it is added to a custom palette, the playback properties are also copied.
System text is applied to one staff in the score, but is indicative for every staff in the system. Any associated playback properties are applied to the whole system. The text will appear in all instrument parts.
System text is never hidden by the hide empty staves feature.
To add or edit Swing:
Chord symbols are an abbreviated way of representing musical chords (see Chord names and symbols (Wikipedia) for further details). For example:
When you exit a chord symbol, the characters entered will automatically assume the correct format: by default a root note typed in lower case will turn into upper case (for alternative options, see Automatic Capitalization); a "#", "b" or "natural" will turn into a proper sharp (♯), flat (♭) or natural (♮) and so on. Do not try to use actual flat, sharp and natural signs, as MuseScore will not understand those properly.
The following commands are available during chord symbol entry:
MuseScore understands most of the abbreviations used in chord symbols:
An existing chord symbol can be edited in a similar way to ordinary text: See Text editing.
Chord symbols are automatically transposed by default if you apply the menu Transpose command to the containing measures. If this is not required, you can untick the "Transpose chord symbols" option in the same dialog.
To adjust the appearance of all chord symbol text, use any of the following options:
To access formatting options for chord symbols:
Three options are possible: Standard and Jazz and Custom. You can select between these using the radio buttons.
In the Standard style, chords are rendered simply, with the font determined by your chord symbol text style.
In the Jazz style, the MuseJazz font is used for a handwritten look, with distinctive superscript and other formatting characteristics. The Jazz style is selected by default if you use any of the Jazz templates.
The Custom style option allows you to customize the look of chord symbols (and also ensures compatibility with older scores). Select a customized Chord symbols style file in the field below: this can be created by copying and modifying one of the pre-existing files in the "styles" folder. Documentation can be found in the same folder. Note, however, that this is for advanced users only, and there is no guarantee these files will be supported in the future.
By default, MuseScore uses letter names for chord symbols. For users in regions where other note naming schemes are used, MuseScore provides the following controls:
By default, MuseScore automatically capitalizes all note names on exit, regardless of whether you entered them in upper or lower case. However, you can also choose other automatic capitalization options:
You can also turn off the automatic capitalization completely, in which case note names are simply rendered the way you type them.
Note: In addition to the settings described here, the default position of applied chord symbols is also determined by settings in the Text Styles dialog. The effect is cumulative.
Enter the number of the capo position at which you want to display substitute chords, in brackets, after all chord symbols in the score.
The Nashville Number System (NNS), available in MuseScore since version 3.3, is a shorthand way of representing chords based on scale degrees rather than chord letters. This allows an accompaniment to be played in any key from the same chord chart.
To start entering Nashville notation:
Just as with standard chord symbols, you can type Nashville notation normally and MuseScore will do its best to recognize and format the symbols appropriately. The same shortcuts used for navigation when entering standard chord symbols (e.g. Space, see above) are available for Nashville notation as well.
As of MuseScore 3.3, the Roman Numeral Analysis system is supported—a type of musical analysis where chords are represented by upper and lower case Roman numerals (I, ii, III, iv etc.), superscripts, subscripts and other modifying symbols. It is used to notate and analyze the harmony of a composition independent of its key (see External links for further details).
Note: Unlike standard chord symbols and Nashville notation, which MuseScore formats using its own algorithms, RNA uses the free and open source Campania font to format the symbols. This allows MuseScore to format the symbols as you type, rather than applying the formatting only when you are done. Also, if you install the Campania font on your system normally, you can use it in other programs as well and benefit from the same formatting.
Just as with standard chord symbols, you can type Roman numeral analysis normally and MuseScore will do its best to recognize and format the symbols appropriately. The same shortcuts used for navigation when entering standard chord symbols are available for Roman numeral analysis as well (see Keyboard commands (above)).
To get this:
Fingering symbols for various instruments are found in the Fingering palette in the Advanced workspace.
Keyboard music employs the numbers 1–5 to represent fingers of the left or right hand.
Guitar music uses the numbers 0–4 to represent left-hand fingering (T is occasionally used for the thumb). Right-hand fingering is indicated by the letters p, i, m, a, c. Circled numbers represent instrument strings.
The last five symbols in the palette are used for lute fingering in historical music.
Note: To enable the display of fingering in tablature, right-click on the TAB, and select Staff/Part Properties...→Advanced Style Properties; then check the box labelled "Show fingering in tablature".
Use any of the following methods:
When fingering is added to a note, the focus immediately shifts to the symbol, so you can adjust it right away.
This special feature allows you to add fingering quickly and easily to successive notes.
To change the position of one symbol, use any of the following methods:
To change the position of multiple symbols:
To restore a symbol to its default position, select it and press Ctrl+R.
If you want to add another lyrics line to an existing one (e.g. a 2nd or 3rd verse etc.):
In most cases, lyrics can be edited just like normal text. However, special keyboard shortcuts are required to enter the following characters:
Space character: Ctrl+Space (Mac: Alt+Space).
- (hyphen): Ctrl+- (Mac: Alt+-) or AltGr+-.
Line feed: Ctrl+↵ (Mac: Alt+Return) or Enter (from the numeric keypad).
To number verses, simply type the number (e.g. 1.) and a space before the first syllable. MuseScore will automatically align the numbers and first syllable correctly.
A melisma is a syllable or word that extends over two or more notes. It is indicated by an underline extending from the base of a syllable to the last note of the melisma. The underline is created by positioning the cursor at the end of a syllable and pressing Shift+_: once for each note in the melisma. See the image below:
The above lyric was created in the following manner:
For non-last syllables to extend, just use additional dashes -, usually only one of them will show (more when the distance between the syllables is large enough), and the syllable will right-align to the first note, similar to last syllables that got notated with a melisma, see above.
Two syllables under a note can be joined with an elision slur, also known as a "lyric slur" or "synalepha". For example:
To create the example lyric text, starting with the syllable text "te":
Use one of the following options:
Note: Not all fonts include the "undertie" character (U+203F ‿ "undertie", present in "Special Characters" mainly for compatibility with MuseScore 1.x scores). To find out which fonts on your computer support it, see "fontlist" (look for any font that shows a tie between "te" and "A" instead of a blank rectangle).
As of 3.6: Ctrl+Alt+- (Mac: Cmd+Alt+-).
To make global adjustments to the properties of all lyrics in the score:
To adjust the position of a particular lyrics line:
To copy all lyrics to the clipboard:
To copy and paste lyrics from a text file (say) into a score:
Rehearsal marks can be used in a number of ways:
Typically, rehearsal marks consist of one or more letters and/or numbers, and appear in sequence in the score—e.g. A, B, C…, or 1, 2, 3… etc. Alternatively, they may display measure numbers (usually larger than standard measure numbers, boldface and/or enclosed in boxes). Multimeasure rests are automatically broken before and after rehearsal marks.
Rehearsal marks can be added to the score (i) automatically—which ensures that they are named in sequence—or (ii) manually, allowing you to name them as you wish.
To create a rehearsal mark manually:
Use either of the following options:
Notes: (1) By default, marks are added in the sequence, A, B, C etc. (2) To change the format of subsequently-added marks (to lower case letters, or numbers), edit the previous rehearsal mark accordingly. (3) Marks added between existing rehearsal marks append a number or letter to the previous mark: it is a good idea to apply the Resequence command afterwards (see below).
MuseScore allows the user to automatically re-order a series of rehearsal marks if they have got out of sequence for any reason. Use the following method:
MuseScore automatically detects the sequence based on the first rehearsal mark in the selection—all rehearsal marks in the selection are then altered accordingly. The following sequences are possible:
Rehearsal marks are a variety of system text, appearing both on the score and on every part. By default, they are in a large bold font, and enclosed in frames. All aspects of their appearance can be changed globally via the rehearsal mark Text style.
See Find (Viewing and navigation).