Shortcuts for Subscript and Superscript

• Sep 27, 2022 - 03:33

We have Ctrl-B and Ctrl-I for bold and italics. That's good.

Please also add shortcuts for subscript and superscript of selected text.

I do this often on lyric text, and it's inconvenient to have to use the mouse on the toolbar at the bottom every time. Imagine doing this 30+ times per score, times 4 to 8 scores per week.


Can you explain more about what you are using this for? That would help us in suggesting workarounds - or indeed, better solutions. For instance, if you're trying to fake Roman numeral analysis using lyrics, no need, just use the built-in RNA facility (in Add / Text). Also, superscripted and ubscripted versions of some characters come predefined in many fonts,. so it might be possible to add them more directly via a customized palette.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

(Thanks for replying, Marc.)

Sure, I can explain: I work with various singers in vocal ensembles, and some of them have regional or international accents when speaking and singing English. To standardize pronunciation, I have begun adding subscript characters in lyric text to help the singers know which sounds to make in words which tend to be pronounced differently by them than the standard I want to establish. In particular, I've been adding International Phonetic Alphabet characters.

I didn't realize custom palettes might be able to help. I've skimmed the documentation here , and explored in the UI in Musescore, but, while the array of elements available in the Master Palette looks extremely broad and comprehensive, including the Symbols subsection, I do not see a way to just add an arbitrary character to a custom palette. Moreover, I much prefer to have keyboard access (shortcut) for the characters, and for subscripting, so that I don't have to constantly move my hands between keyboard and mouse as I do my work.

Really, the ideal solution for me would be to take the functionality that happens when you press the subscript button, and make exactly that code execute when a shortcut key chord is pressed.

In reply to by Pistos

Sure, understood. And I recommend posting an official suggestion to the issue tracker on GitHub (at this point probably a better place than the issue tracker here, although that's not 100% certain). Meanwhile, I'm just trying to help you find the most reasonable workaround for now.

You can add any character from the Special Characters palette - that's separate from Symbols - to your custom palette by simply dragging & dropping. Special Characters (F2) is where you are presumably getting the IPA symbols from anyhow, although since you seem to be suggesting you are doing that without the mouse, maybe you are typing Unicode shortcuts instead? Anyhow, I don't know that there are superscripted or subscripted versions of the IPA symbols, so that might not help directly. Seeing an actual score with some of yu=our special lyrics could be useful.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

No, I was not using the Special Characters palette (F2). I was getting them from the Internet, and just copying from a web browser tab and into Musescore. Being able to use a Musescore palette would probably save me a bit of time over this copy-paste method. (Though it's not as arduous as it might seem, because I have a clipboard manager which lets me quickly access recent clipboard entries.)

I've attached an example of some lyrics with subscripted IPA characters added.

Attachment Size
ipa-subscript-example.png 8.36 KB

In reply to by Pistos

I've been messing with this because it helps me learn things.
I found a web site listing the IPA symbols. I could copy a symbol to the clipboard, type a lyric into MuseScore, hit subscript, and paste the symbol neatly after the lyric.
I also found that I could put those symbols into a palette. But I don't think it is any easier. Here is the reasoning and the procedure.
1. Copy the symbol to the clipboard.
2. Enter lyric input in MuseScore.
3. C+P the symbol. Exit lyric input.
4. CTRL+SHIFT drag the symbol to a palette you already created for this.

The problem is how best to apply the new IPA symbols from the palette to your score. Symbols don't apply to lyrics. At least not that I can find. They attach to notes, or measures, or the like. So, you would have to enter a lyric (or part of one), select either the same note or the next note and select the symbol. You then have to drag it to the proper location. Which can be finicky. You can drag it from the palette, but it still will only attach to a note. You still have to move it around.

In a Microsoft program, the shortcut for an upside down V is ALT+8743. This even works in Paint. In MuseScore, this produces a colon. Not a surprise as MuseScore isn't a Microsoft product. I just thought I'd mention it so you wouldn't wast time trying it.

In reply to by bobjp

You don't need to do all that. it's as simple as I said before: open the Special Characters palette (not the Symbols palette, not a third party program), find the IPA symbols, drag the ones you want to your own palette. Then you can add any of these into a lyrics with a single click.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Indeed simple except for those of us who have no idea what or where the Special Character palette is. Simple once you finally discover that the easiest way to get there is by selecting the little squiggle or fish button all the way on the left side of where the subscript button is.
Indeed they can be dragged to a new palette and added to lyrics.


Sorry for the poor quality image.

In reply to by bobjp

As I mentioned before, F2 is the shortcut for the Special Characters palette - that's the easiest way to access it for most purposes, since your hands are already on the keyboard and not the mouse while typing text. But yes, it helps to have already learned this. That what these forums are for, also the Handbook :-)

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

True, you did say F2. But you have to be in some kind of text mode for it to work. That makes sense unless you are only use to the master palette. Looking up most anything in the manual is hit and miss. Typing Special Characters into the search brings up several unrelated entries. I had no idea that I needed to look at the Lyrics section.
I think the Manual needs an index. Not just a series of headings. An Index. Cross referenced. Special Characters might be a sub-heading under Lyrics, and/or Text as well as Special. I think a good index would help new comers learn how to find what they are looking for much faster than the forum. And perhaps the manual might be reorganized to reflect the order of things in the menu bar. Food for thought for M4 :)

In reply to by bobjp

The Special Characters dialog is documented on the "text editing" page - seems the most natural place to me, since that what it is for. It's referenced elsewhere too, like in Lyrics.

We've put a lot of work into reorganizing the Handbook for MuseScore 4 to make it easier to find things. And index would be great, but harder to generate than you might imagine. but anyhow, you're welcome to join the effort - see the Documentation forum for more info on how to contribute your writing talents!

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

But on some level, why aren't Special Characters with the rest of the symbols? Or visa versa? Every manual for devices or software I own has an index or at least a table of contents. All linked. It's not about writing skills. It's about organization. Look at this from the view point of someone who hasn't used MuseScore before. Many times new folks on the forum say they can't find information they need. Someone has to post a link to the manual. Because it's hard to find anything in the manual.

In reply to by bobjp

Table of contents here:

which is where you land if you follow select the Handbook link in the website menu and where you land if you select Online Handbook from the Help menu within the Musescore program.

For information about text-related issues (like the subject if this thread) you will find a main heading "Text" in that landing page here and under that heading the second item is a link to here which has a section here… that describes exactly what the OP is asking about.

Yes it is quite deeply layered, but the path seems quite logically signposted.

In reply to by SteveBlower

Here's what I'm saying. I saw the term in this thread "Special Characters". I wanted to know what that was. My first instinct was to go the the manual and type that term into the search box. As usual when searching multi word entries, several things came up that had nothing to do with the two words together. This is normal. But it did take some time to find what I was after. I had no idea that it referred to text. Or that I needed to start there. I'm used to the Master Palette. There are plenty of special characters in there. I wondered why the the two might not be referenced together.

A better example would be "Style" from the menu bar. What is it and what does it do? I type it into the search box. Seven pages of individual things it is used for. No unifying statement about it. No entry in the table of contents or the glossary. It's a pretty important tool.

How about "Stretch", under Format. Do I want Layout Stretch (probably), or Time Stretch. How about Arpeggio Stretch? Probably not.

If I'm a new user and I'm in the UI, and I want to know what Explode does, what do I do? I think it would be faster and easier if the manual were organized more around the menu bar. I would go to Tools/Explode directly.
Obviously, there would be a section on installing and general setup. And an index.

Sorry. Just kind of thinking out loud :-)

In reply to by bobjp

If you type "special characters" into the Handbook search, result #2 is exactly the one you want (the text editing one). #3 is lyrics.

But indeed, the search facility on this site is not very smart, and can often lead you astray. I get better results using Google, typing " handbook special characters" which gives me exactly the correct page as the first hit. This works almost all the time. You can also get even more specific using the exact URL of the Handbook: " special characters". This limits hits to actual Handbook pages, not just pages that have the word "handbook" in them. Same works for "style" - the top hits are the "text style and properties", "Layout and formatting", and "Templates and styles" pages, just as they should be.

As for things like having a single page dedicated to all things having anything to do with "style", the thing is, that's not what most people try to look up. People don't usually start by already knowing what the thing is called - they start with more general questions like "how do I change the font of my text" or "how do I make my hairpins thicker" or whatever. They have no idea the term to search on is "style", nor would they be likely to click if they saw a search hit come up that only had the word "style" in the title. Similarly, if you didn't already know there was a thing called "special characters", you'd never think to type that into a search - you'd be asking, "how do I insert IPA symbols into text" or whatever.

So we've gone to some lengths to try to make the headings in the MuseScore 4 Handbook correspond to the sorts of things people would be likely to search on if they didn't already know what it was called, not just labels with the names of the things in MuseScore. This makes the table of contents much more useful - you'll see the page names and headings speaking your language, not computer-ese.

And yes, it would be great to be able to improve the Handbook search facility for MuseScore 4, as well as provide an index. These things are all possible, with effort, which is why we need volunteers to help!

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Actually, I just downloaded the manual as a PDF. Much, much easier to find everything. All the headings and sub-heading are on the left. Just what I'm looking for. I realize that I won't see updates to the manual until I download it again. Worth it. I have stayed away from the manual because it's so hard to find anything. Fortunately my notation needs are relatively simple.

In reply to by bobjp

The Handbook has always had a table of contents. And yes, indexes are good also. But they take time and effort to create and keep updated, which is why you see them more for commercial programs than open source. Meanwhile, better organization of the Handbook itself - and thus, its table of contents - will help a lot, I am confident you will find. Yes, it's been hard to find information in the past. That's why we put so much effort into the reorganization. If you or someone with the necessary skills wants to volunteer to help create an index as well, great!

As for why Special Characters is separate from Symbols, it's certainly conceivable that someday they could be merged. Right now they are different i the documentation for the same reason they are separate in the program: because you use them for different reasons. One is something you use to edit text, the other is something you use to add musical markings to notes. Not everything that can be inserted into text is a musical marking that can be added to a note.

In reply to by Pistos

So if you're currently opening a separate program and copying and pasting from it, isn't that already a very mouse-focused workflow?

What I envision would be, copy your favorite IPA symbols from Special Characters to your own palette. Then entering one is only two clicks - first on the superscript button, then on the IPA symbol in the palette.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Yes, it would save me some time to have some IPA characters in a sidebar in Musescore itself. I don't see a way to do that, though. I don't see the characters I want in Musescore (to drag them to a custom palette).

Note that I can reduce some of the mouse usage by referring back to recently-used characters in my clipboard manager, which I can access by keyboard alone.

In reply to by Pistos

I thought you said these were IPA symbols? There is a whole IPA section in the Unicode tab of the Special Characters dialog. Just drag them from there to your own palette (either an existing palette like Text, or create your own custom palette). You need to be using a font that has those characters.

Screenshot 2022-09-27 1.49.58 PM.png

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

I see. Well, they're just hollow boxes on my system, so that presumably means the font that displays these in the dialogue doesn't support IPA. When I select one, then it shows fine in the lyrics (which seem to be using the Edwin font). I can accept that this is a problem specific to my system setup, and not Musescore.

When I drag a character from the Special Chars dialogue into my custom palette, it drags fine, but it still shows as a placeholder character (box). When I click it, it inserts the character fine, and I can see it.

When I change the UI font in the Musescore settings, the font changes, but I've tried 6 different fonts, and none of them make the IPA character render correctly in the selection UI elements.

In reply to by Pistos

Yes, if the font you are using doesn’t have the characters, one from a fallback font gets used, regardless of how you add the character. There really isn’t control over which font is chosen, so best to take control and set your lyrics font to something like FreeSerif (very complete, comes with MuseScore so available to all users).

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Setting the lyric font doesn't matter (selecting a lyric word, then choosing a font within the Inspector). Setting the UI font doesn't matter (in the settings, under Edit | Preferences | General | Appearance). No matter what font I choose (even FreeSerif) for either or both font settings, the behaviour is the same: In the selection UI elements, the character is not rendered (it's just a box). In the LYRICS, the character IS rendered just fine, no problems (it's not a box, it's the real IPA character). The problem is not in the score, it's in the UI.

I don't know how to control the font used to render the selection UI elements.

Attached is a screenshot showing that the Appearance font has been changed to FreeSerif, and renders most of the UI in FreeSerif (like the palette names, "Noteheads", "Tremolos", "IPA Custom"), but the actual character elements within the palette are not rendered.

Attachment Size
ipa-custom-palette.png 13.62 KB
ipa-special-characters.png 50.9 KB

In reply to by Pistos

Not the preferences, the lyrics. The first thing you described works, but my guess is, you tried editing the lyric before making the change, so the dialog was showing the origin font, not the changed one. Try doing it in this order:
1) single-click (do not double-click) a lyric to select it but not place it in Edit mode
2) use Inspector (not text toolbar) to change font to FreeSerif
3) press the "S" button to set as style (so all lyrics get this same font)
4) press Esc to unselected
5) double-click any lyrics
6) press F2
7) show Unicode / IPA section

Screenshot 2022-09-28 6.45.11 AM.png

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Wow. That worked! Thanks so much for your persistence in helping. I have now set up a custom palette with all the IPA characters that I typically use. I'm even able to put the lyric font back, and everything continues to work. That is, the characters in my palette still render properly (though the Special Characters window reverts to having the rendering problem, but that's to be expected).

I will say this, though: I would never have found out that these steps would be what solves the character display problem. There is no visual connection in the UI between the font of the lyric style, and the characters that are shown in the Special Characters dialogue window. Perhaps this could either be documented, or, even better, somehow communicated in the UI itself.

Anyway, I still would like to be able to set a keyboard shortcut for subscripting. ;)

In reply to by Pistos

It would be more obvious if you were using a font that looks more obviously different, I guess - like, if you use MuseJazz Text for your font, it's very obvious looking at Special Characters that is showing you the character from that font. And if you think about it, it's only logical it would show you the characters using the font you've actually selected. But yes, a nice enhancement would be a heading at the top of the dialog to clarify that - "Showing characters from Edwin" or whatever. Feel free to make an official suggestion to that effect on the GitHub issue tracker for MuseScore so it can be considered for a future update!

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