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User Manual

Chords Over Lyrics

Chords over lyrics are a common way to write chord charts. This method involves writing lyrics on one line and writing chords on the line above the lyrics. Chords are then aligned with lyrics using spaces. Here is an example of the chords over lyrics chord format:

 G                 G         D     
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me

You'll see that many spaces are used to align chords over the proper syllables in the lyrics. This format only works well if a fixed-width font is used. If a variable-width font is used, then various quantities of spaces characters are required to align chords due to the variation in space character widths for different fonts.

This format has the advantage of being more visually equal to the final output. However, there are a number of pitfalls that you may run into using this format:

  • Variable-Width Fonts can cause issues when creating in or importing text from a word processing program like Microsoft Word. It is common in many chord charts and can cause problems when converting into text and viewed in a fixed-width font like in song editor.
  • Tabs are sometimes used to avoid the issue of variable-width fonts in word processing programs. This is complex enough to set up tab stops in word processor programs, but text editors have no knowledge of the formatting information created in the word processor program. OnSong renders tabs as a preset number of spaces which can cause alignment issues.
  • Duplicative Entry occurs every time you make a change to lyrics or chord line. This requires you to frequently adjust spaces on the chord line.
  • Chord Detection becomes an issue because it may be difficult to determine the difference between a chord line and a lyrics line. For instance, if a line contains only "Am", is that a word or a chord? OnSong will only detect chords if the line only contains chords. Exceptions to this are certain characters like . / | \ or if you surround notes in parenthesis.

Hint: Use the Chord Format section in the Text Tools Menu to toggle between both chord formats when making changes.

OnSong 2020.8 — Last Updated on December 6, 2014