Chord symbols font

I have tried multiple times to change the chord symbols font. I have gone into huge detail setting the parameters in the chord symbol style area. I choose a triangle instead of Maj. I set the font size in the chord symbol font engrave area, I save it all (apply) and - every time I open a new score it’s all defaulted back to the manufacturers original settings - so I have to go through it all again. I know it’s me - but what the hell am I doing wrong? I’ve sat for hours with the manual, I’ve watched videos but nothing seems to do it. HELP!!!

Is there an option for Save as Default? I’m not at my computer and not sure how this works of the top of my head

Changing settings in Engraving Options only applies to that project, but you can (as Daniel suggests) save the current state of all Engraving Options in your project as the defaults for all future projects you start on your computer.

You can also transfer settings between projects using the Library Manager, if you have Dorico Pro:

Thanks, I’ve figured out most of it now. However, I’m trying to increase the size of diminished ‘o’ superscript. The default is ridiculously small. I’ve found my way to the ‘edit chord symbol appearance’ window and, indeed, I can alter the size of this item. Problem is it only alters it on the one chord symbol and then immediately defaults back to the original setting. I’ve tried various ways of saving it and trying to apply it to every instance of the superscript diminished but to no avail. Any ideas?

That’s in Engrave mode and as you’ve discovered is only for that chord. I just posted a walkthrough today on this thread on how to globally adjust the sizing and positioning for 69 chords, but the same principle applies for the dim circle.

Thanks for your response. I’ve followed your instructions several times, to the letter, but still it’s defaulting back to the original settings. I’m really at a loss, unless there’s something I’m missing somewhere.

1 Like
  1. I can start with this.

  2. Project Default Chord Symbol Appearances, add an F#dim. (Remember root doesn’t matter, it’s just a way to access the editor.)

  3. Select the dim circle on the grid, which highlights it in blue below. Click Edit Component.

  4. Now we’re making a global change to that glyph. Change X and Y if you want. If you change scale percentages, they have to match. Hit OK when done.

  5. Now I have this in Project Default Chord Symbol Appearances. Any changes made here will only be for F#dim as I’m no longer making a global change.

  6. Hit Apply, and when I return the the score I have this:

The Ebdim suffix has been changed because I made a global change to that glyph.

Thank you so much for going into so much detail. There’s definitely something wrong. I have now got the result I want with the dim circle. However, I’m now following the same procedure but with # and b 9ths I’m getting completely inconsistent results. Sometimes it will all be correct, others it will have defaulted back to the original, then one side of the parenthesis will be different to the other, then it won’t!!! Driving me crazy.

Rebuilding something like a #9 is a bit trickier. Dorico actually uses two different glyphs for suffix accidentals, a smaller one for percentages 75% and lower and a larger one for 76% and up. These are called comp.csymAccidentalSharp and comp.csymAccidentalSharpSmall and are found in the Composite tab.

If you delete the #9 glyph and want to rebuild it, use the appropriate sharp from that Composite list, then add the 9 from the Text tab, making sure you select Chord Symbols Font from the dropdown. (It will annoyingly erroneously default to Bar Repeat Count.)

An added complication here, is this editing window is very buggy and not WYSIWYG. If I just position the # and 9 like this …

… when I hit OK it will look like this in Project Default Appearances.

Not good. One thing that helps, is when you are rebuilding it in the Edit Chord Symbol Component window, be sure to select Baseline Right and Left in the Attachments tab.

With Baseline selected instead of the default Bottom, then it more or less works.

This all falls apart somewhat with double-stacked suffixes, as the editor is just too buggy, so I hope you don’t have too many of them to do!

Also, when I initially select the #9, notice it does not appear selected below in blue like the dim symbol did.

This means it’s impossible to make a global change to a #9 suffix, and you have to make the change for every root. This of course is a colossal PITA, and I previously had hundreds of overrides in my working default file. Depending on what exactly you want to do, you may be able to redefine the glyph using a doricolib file, but that’s a lot more complicated. I now do many of my chord symbol edits that way, as I can make global changes and avoid overrides, but that’s a much tougher walkthough without knowing what you are trying to accomplish and how comfortable you are with manually editing xml files.

Once again, I really appreciate your amazing help.
I gave up on Dorico when it was the 2nd version because it was just too complicated. I decided to update to Pro 4 and give it another shot but, seeing all this, I think I’m going to give up again. I just don’t have the time or inclination to deal with all this. I’m under huge pressure and tight deadlines all the time. To me, this is such basic stuff and shouldn’t be this way. It seems Dorico have got so much right and yet have over complicated some of the most basic tasks to the point it’s intolerable. Maybe it’s a great program for the intellectuals but for us freelance, working musicians, out in the field, where time and efficiency are everything, it’s a dead loss. It seems to me that Dorico needs someone on their staff who is well experienced in the practical requirements of commercial arrangements/composers/musicians who have to produce the goods fast and efficiently and, as many of my colleagues are also finding, Dorico just isn’t cutting it.
Once again, thanks so much for your time and effort.

Sure, you’re welcome. I switched to Dorico after about 25 years on Finale, and chord symbol editing is definitely one of the most frustrating elements of the program. A large percentage of my posts here have been griping about chords and/or chord symbol feature requests. Finale’s suffix editor is clunky and hasn’t been revised since the late 1990s, but it is simple to make any sort of global suffix you want. Dorico’s chord symbol implementation is conceptually very different though. The fact there’s no simple global suffix editor, and the editor we do have is very buggy is definitely a huge issue. Once you get everything set up the way you want, it’s fairly quick and efficient, but getting to that point involves a lot of effort. I’d obviously love to see this changed too.

Yes, I was with Finale for years, then switched to Sibelius about 14 years ago. Their chord editor was a dream compared to Finale’s and that was the principle reason I switched. Even now, despite its short comings, Sibelius works well overall and it’s chord symbol feature is absolutely the best as far as I can tell. If I were someone with loads of time to play around with Dorico, I’m sure I’d be very happy with it - but I’m not. Commercial music is heavily dependent on chord symbols and I constantly have to edit styles to suit the requirements of the client. Can you imagine having to go through this nightmare every time? Bye bye for now, Dorico!!!

Between your thread here, and @Dup’s questions on this thread, there was obviously a lot of chord symbol confusion on the forum today. One of the best features of Dorico is the responsiveness of the developers, so if you don’t mind me using your thread, I just wanted to summarize some of the issues encountered as they do read all the threads.

  1. The lack of an obvious global chord symbol suffix editor is very confusing for new users. No one wants to either edit each chord individually, or create chord overrides for every single root as this is a huge waste of time. (Just counting basic “white keys” plus sharps and flats, that’s 21 overrides required for each suffix in a template or default file, not counting double sharps or flats.)

  2. The factory defaults for the minor minus, the dim circle, 6/9, and major triangle are poor, so many users will understandably want to immediately change these.

  3. The fact that there is a global suffix editor for some suffixes (but not others), and the only way to access it is to first create an individual override, is very confusing.

  4. The documentation implies that any chord symbol suffix can have a project-wide change in appearance, but this is just not true. Only the suffixes that appear under the grid and can be selected can have a project-wide change. A major triangle or diminished circle can be changed project-wide, but as something like #9 or b5 doesn’t appear there, no project-wide change is possible for those suffixes so they must be edited for all possible roots.

  5. Once the user manages to find their way to the Edit Chord Symbol Component dialog, there are several sub-issues:
    a) There is no documentation on how Dorico assembles a suffix like #9. There is no way for the user to know they need to use the Composite comp.csymAccidentalSharp as that term doesn’t appear anywhere in the documentation.
    b) There is no documentation on how Dorico chooses different glyphs based on whether the scale factor is <=75% or >75%. Without knowledge of a) and b) a user couldn’t reliably rebuild a suffix like #9 in order to modify the positioning of those glyphs should they choose to do so, and would likely create a stylistic inconsistency in the score.
    c) The Text tab defaults to using the “Bar Repeat Count” Font Style. It’s entirely likely no one will ever want to use that style in this editing window, and it will cause confusion later when the user tries to modify the “Chord Symbols Font” and realizes that changes some suffixes, but not others using the wrong style. This should really default to the style the user is going to want the overwhelming majority of the time.
    d) Obviously if it were easy to fix the WYSIWYG bugs in the editor then they would have been fixed already, but simply changing the attachment point to Baseline Right and Baseline Left fixes many of the issues. Dorico still defaults to Bottom Right and Bottom Left which causes all sorts of discrepancies between this editing window and the Project Default Appearances window (and the score of course.) At the very least, Baseline should be the default to minimize WYSIWYG bugs.

  6. The sum effect of all of the above combined is to make chord editing “intolerable” and a huge hurdle that must be cleared before using Dorico for any sort of time-sensitive work.

Is that an accurate summation? Feel free to correct me if I’m misrepresenting anything, or add anything I’ve omitted.


I think this is a fabulous summary. Whilst I don’t understand the technicalities you talk about I completely concur that the system is ‘intolerable’ and the basic shapes, symbols and proportions that are standard are completely useless for the commercial music world therefore, the need to easily edit them is an absolute must. I have literally spent hours trying to set them up so they’re usable and presentable. Every single time I have attempted to actually do a project using Dorico, I have been forced to redo it again using Sibelius. It’s a huge shame because I think the developers have got so much right in this version. I suspect that the developers are not experienced commercial musicians but more classical. It is very evident to me that they have no real understanding of how chord symbols need to be viewed and how they’re actually used.
I’m very grateful for the time and effort you’ve put into this.

1 Like

I’m don’t think that this is a fair comment to make and here’s why:

It could be as simple as they need to prioritise their work somehow and can’t devote their time to this as much as they’d like to. It could be that they’re rethinking how to make chord symbols work more flexibly and can’t figure out how to adjust fundamental code to do so. It could be that they have no idea about how chord symbols work… but I doubt it.

It’s fair to critique and say “this isn’t helpful to me” or “this is intolerable” or “I wish it were this way for this reason”, but I don’t think it’s fair to assume particular circumstances of the developers as you have. If not just for the fact that they will read this.

You’re playing with fire.

I’ll get off my high horse and hope that this doesn’t offend. :slight_smile:


And when you come back shortly before a deadline to Dorico 6, you will likely face frustration again.

By all means, if you are short of time, finish your project in Sibelius. That’s a sensible thing to do when on deadline: work with what you know. But since you now own Dorico 4, it would make sense for you to set aside some time between projects to work on test projects to learn the ins and outs of this program, perhaps not to the extent of Fred’s knowledge of the arcana of chord formatting (unless you wish to do so), but certainly to gain more familiarity with the aspects of the program you need for future projects.

The people you have been turning to for help are able to give that help in large part because they have been working with Dorico in prior editions and added to their knowledge piece by piece, which is why I say that just giving up and coming back later will only face you with even more information and new techniques to absorb then.

1 Like

I think it’s a very fair comment and it acknowledges that the classical and commercial worlds are very different animals thus, giving them a realistic excuse for what is a substantial failing. Sure, it could be down to all sorts of issues but, the fact is, I paid an awful lot of money for something that is practically useless and not fit for purpose. I’m not about to take a soft line and feel sorry for them. This needs to be fixed if this program is going to be a serious contender against their competitors.

That’s exactly what I have been doing but there comes a point when you have to put the studying to the test - and that’s when you really start to feel the weight of the knowledge you lack. When you actually embark on a real project and have deadline to meet, then the problems really show up and so do all the immense difficulties in navigating the endless menus.

Perhaps the current Dorico developers should speak to the old Sibelius developers who apparently did understand how chord symbols should work! That they are mostly the same people hopefully suggests, as @DanielMuzMurray hints, that for whatever reason chord symbols haven’t so far been at the top of the priority list but hopefully will be soon.

1 Like