Positions of lyrics

Dorico Pro automatically positions lyrics and makes adjustments to accommodate variations in the length of lyrics, including adjusting the horizontal alignment of lyrics in melismatic music. However, you can also move lyrics manually and also change their default positions project-wide.

You can move lyrics to different rhythmic positions in Write mode. They are positioned by default according to your chosen options on the Lyrics page in Engrave > Engraving Options.

You can move individual lyrics graphically in Engrave mode, but this does not change the rhythmic positions to which they are attached.


The horizontal position of lyrics is automatically adjusted in Dorico Pro to minimize changes to the note spacing. Syllables are moved by small amounts either left or right to accommodate longer syllables without distorting the appearance of note rhythms.

Moving lyrics graphically in Engrave mode overrides the automatic spacing for the selected lyrics. If you move a lyric whose position was automatically readjusted, the note spacing at that rhythmic position might change.

You can change the default positions of lyrics project-wide on the Lyrics page in Engraving Options.

The default settings for lyrics on the Lyrics page in Engraving Options are optimized for scores with comfortable spacing. If your project requires note spacing to be narrower, with less room for each note, change these settings to achieve a clearly legible result without the need for lots of editing in Engrave mode.

For scores that have less horizontal space, the following changes often improve the appearance of lyrics and rhythmic space:

  • Make minimum gaps smaller, such as the minimum gap between lyrics and hyphens, in the Hyphens section of the Lyrics page in Engraving Options.

  • Increase the amount that lyrics can be adjusted by in the Spacing section of the Lyrics page in Engraving Options.

Positions of syllables

The number of notes sung on syllables or words determines how the lyrics are positioned:

  • Single syllables, which are whole words or parts of longer words that are sung on only one note, are centered on their corresponding note.

  • Melismata, which are syllables or words that are sung on more than one note, are left-aligned with the left side of the first note to which they apply.

Placement of lyric lines

Lyrics are placed relative to other lyric lines according to their line number. For example, lyrics in Line 1 are placed at the top, including when there are multiple lyric lines above the staff.

If a line of lyrics is missing across the width of a whole system, no additional gap is left between the remaining lines of lyrics.


You have three lines of lyrics, but one system does not have a second line of lyrics. On this system, the third line of lyrics is moved upwards, closer to the first line of lyrics.

If a subsequent system does not have a first line, but does have the second and third lines, then the second and third lines of lyrics are moved upwards. The second line of lyrics takes the place of the first line.