Positions of lyrics

Dorico for iPad 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.

You can move lyrics to different rhythmic positions in Write mode.

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 for iPad 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 prevent Dorico for iPad from considering lyrics in note spacing calculations using the Make space for lyrics option on the Note Spacing page in Layout Options; however, we recommend using this option with caution.

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 can also move individual lyric lines vertically. In Engrave mode, when you select any lyric in a lyric line, a square handle appears on the bottom left of the first lyric in the line on that system. This allows you to adjust the vertical position of lyric lines independently of other lyric lines.

Figure 1. Square handle selected at the start of a lyric line in Engrave mode


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.