Aligning Lyrics

• Apr 12, 2023 - 23:30

MuseScore 4.02, Windows 10:
Why isn't there a way to align all the lyrics on a line vertically? Very often, even when entering lyrics, when you get part of the line entered, the words at the beginning of the line suddenly jump up onto the staff, or are generally shifted vertically. Then the only way to re-align them is to select each word (or syllable) one at a time and try to get it perfectly aligned with the rest of the line. This is especially a problem when making corrections. Why not be able to turn off all the automatic formatting and let things stay where they are put? As it is, a measure may get pushed to the next (or previous) system, then my mouse is left pointing to the wrong measure & I have to go looking for my re-located measure. It's got so I have to number every measure & keep track of which measure# I am editing in order to find it again.

Also I can't get the Underscore to add a line to a word which is held over several notes (or beats). Shift- "_" just jumps to the next note.

And the lyrics don't seem to be connected to a note, rather to the top line of the staff. I have tried to follow the manual when dealing with these problems. Any hints would be appreciated.


Q1. If your lyrics are jumping around vertically, the reason may be that there simply isn't enough space to fit the words into the same horizontal line.

Try reducing the Scaling of your entire score:
Format > Page Settings... > Scaling > Stave space (sp) > reduce

Q2. "Also I can't get the Underscore to add a line to a word which is held over several notes (or beats). Shift+underscore just jumps to the next note."
The same remark applies. You will only see a melisma (repeated underscores) if there is actually enough space to display the melisma. This is particularly true for melismas over two quavers (two 1/8 notes).

As always, it helps if you attach the actual score (.mscz file). Otherwise we can only guess...

In reply to by DanielR

I find that normally if there is insufficient space between staffs, the staff spacing automatically increases as I enter the lyrics. However the attached picture shows how this lyric line went in. I entered it starting from the beginning of the line, continuing to the end. The staff did not change, but the words/syllables are not aligned. Now I have to manually align every syllable.

Note: The words/syllables are not on the correct notes in this picture; it is only for illustration of the alignment.

I don't see anything abnormal about the staff. (It's all Voice 1)

Attachment Size
Lyrics.jpg 53.3 KB

I discovered why my lyrics are jumping around: When holding CTRL while clicking each word to select the whole line (in order to raise or lower it), the mouse must be PERFECTLY still when clicking. The slightest unintentional movement makes the other words go who knows where. If you're in a hurry , it's going to happen. For this reason an "Align Lyrics" feature could be useful. Otherwise it's Undo & start over.

The other thing is the last measure of a system suddenly jumping to the next system, requiring me to go looking for it , as the mouse stayed behind. To avoid surprises, I'd like to do the editing (adding notes, lyrics etc) then if a measure is getting too crowded, manually "push" it to the next system, or conversely "pull" one back to the previous system (when deleting lyrics or notes)

I guess most other problems are part of the "learning curve". There are so many places to look for things - Main Menu & sub-menus, Icon bar, Palettes, Right clicking something, Un-dock the Playback controls, etc, and some are not very intuitive. I'm keeping my own notes on "Where to find things". Also, doing things in the right order can be important, e.g. when clicking Note Entry, if a rest was chosen in the icon bar, it disappears so has to be clicked again.

Thanks for the tips in this forum so far.

In reply to by davey

"When holding CTRL while clicking each word to select the whole line (in order to raise or lower it), the mouse must be PERFECTLY still when clicking."

There is an easier way:
1. Right-click a single lyric word or syllable
2. From the popup menu choose Select > More... > Same system
3. In the Properties panel, correct the vertical offset for all the lyrics on that system, in one go

In reply to by DanielR

Suggestions #1 & 2 work great! But it's still 4 or 5 mouse clicks. Is it possible to define a Keyboard Shortcut to select a whole line?

However, sometimes I don't want to select the whole line (like if only a few words are out of line). So it's back to CTRL-Click each word.

3 consistently works ok on the 1st two systems but only on a couple others. With the rest it shifts the whole line, but the 1st click on "Offset" worsens the misalignment. (That's the sort of thing I find frustrating.) All lyrics are Voice 1, Verse 1 (there's only 1 verse). There are some extra notes in both Voices 1 & 2. It seems to work on a straightforward melody line, but any extras throws it off.

I tried this in another score & it didn't work at all. A very simple "Happy Birthday" tune works fine.

In reply to by davey

I closed MuseScore, & when I later came back to my same score, suggestion #3 would only work on systems that had a clear, single-note melody line. It will not work even on Systems 1 or 2, where it worked before. I have NOT made ANY changes to the score itself! I have only been trying the text alignment/offset problem.

In reply to by DanielR

The attached score is very incomplete & contains many notation errors, jumping between voices, etc. hence my reluctance to submit it.

Here is a summary of the problems I have been having:
1. Lyric alignment:
Staff does not always "open up" to allow room for lyrics.
Selecting a line of lyrics then adjusting Properties > Appearance > Offset(vertical) doesn't always work. It often makes the alignment worse.
2. Measures & Systems:
Measure 16 occupies a complete system; I can't make another measure move into this system to make it look better.
3. Playback Tempo:
At Bar 18 the playback tempo suddenly jumps from 115 (or as set) to around 35 then to over 200.
4. I don't know how to get the arpeggios & runs to cover the right number of beats and end on the right beat & note. Is there a term to just play it as sort of a glissando? I have simply added a text frame to indicate this. (The arpeggios are incomplete in the score)

I appreciate the help on these problems.

I am using MuseScore 4.0.2 on Windows 10.

Attachment Size
InTheGarden.mscz 31.32 KB

In reply to by davey

  1. Increase Format > Style > Page > Min. Staff distance
  2. Reduce stretch, select some measures and press {
  3. Seems there was an invisible/empty tempo marking at measure 18, copy the initial one, right-click it, select all somilar, Del, select the rest and paste it back
  4. The arpergios do have a delay setting on their properties, maybe that helps
Attachment Size
InTheGarden.mscz 29.52 KB

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

  1. I hadn't thought of selecting several measures to reduce stretch.
    Thank you.
  2. How do I find these "invisible" marks? I have tried setting tempo, but nothing
    seems to work reliably or permanently, and no markings show.
  3. There's no delay settings on the Properties window I get. (Palette, Arpeggios,

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