Feature Request: Auto Note Spacing (Finale)

Hi Folks!

I’m wondering if Dorico ever intends to implement auto note spacing like in Finale? In general, Dorico does a great job automatically spacing notes. However, there are times when the lyrics get compressed to accommodate note spacing.

In Finale, you could just press Command+5 (or 4, I can’t remember) and it would update the note spacing to make the lyrics look cleaner. It would be wonderful to have this option in Dorico (unless it’s already there and I missed it!)

So appreciate the help and quick responses to all of my forum questions!

  • Ethan

Dorico’s designed to make these decisions on the fly. Pressing a button (or typing a shortcut) to recalculate is kind of the opposite of that. Either way, this is kind of irrelevant - it’s just a case of when the program makes the calculations to follow its own rules.

Let’s figure out why the rules don’t do what you want them to do:

What are these Engraving Options set to?

Engrave > Font Styles > Lyrics. What’s this set to? Could you get away with something slightly smaller or a slightly narrower font (Academico’s great but fairly wide).

Have you forced the casting off?

(P.S. Isn’t Carole King a wonderful songwriter? I might listen to Tapestry on a long car journey tomorrow :smiley: )

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In Finale, Command 4 is “Apply Note Spacing” and Command 5 is “Apply Beat Spacing”. Neither is guaranteed to make the lyrics cleaner. Dorico is ALWAYS automatically applying Note Spacing for you!

I’m surprised that Dorico produces the results you’re seeing: are you sure you’ve got “Make Space for Lyrics” checked in Layout Options > Note Spacing? It looks like Dorico isn’t giving the lyrics any space at all.

Also, this could be caused if you’ve set System Breaks. (If you’re from Finale, you’re probably used to Locking every system, which is not something I’d recommend in Dorico.)

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Here are my settings:

I tried making them smaller, setting them to the values you showed above, but my Section C isn’t looking much better. I did set the casting off, fixed at 2 bars per system!

Here’s the project file if that helps: So Far Away Choir Score.dorico (2.5 MB)

Thank you! Yes, Carole King is awesome!

I do have “make space for lyrics” checked on. I’ve only set 1 or 2 system breaks manually, otherwise I just have the casting off fixed to 2 bars per system

Engrave > Note Spacing mode (the fourth icon down the left side of Engrave mode) tells me that Dorico considers this system to be 117.8% horizontally full.

Dorico just doesn’t have space to do a better job with the spacing here.

You could turn down the space (staff) size, or you could reduce the size of the lyric font, or you could use a narrower font, but as things stand you have a mismatch between your settings, your casting off and what’s actually possible.


I’d use Rastral Size 5, which gives you more space but is still very readable. In fact, you could go ‘custom’ a little bit smaller.

Hey Leo (or anyone else). I found this thread looking for a solution to a note spacing problem. See attached, I have a note spacing issue in bars 7 and 8, which Dorico tells me are 104.6% full. Is that likely why the note spacing and lyrics are appearing this way? It’s strange, the bars above don’t look that different but they show well below the 100% threshold…

Could I drag the bar line at the end of bar 7 to the right? There’s some unused space in bar 8, maybe I could get bar 7 looking a little better? Grabbing the bar line in Engrave mode seems to move only the line and doesn’t move the notes in bar 8. Thanks in advance

You might want to look into the spacing settings for lyrics – e.g. changing the minimum gaps Dorico must allow between adjacent lyrics, how much Dorico can nudge lyrics either side of a note, that sort of thing (these options are in Engraving Options > Lyrics).

That might reduce the minimum space required to the point where these systems are no longer overfull, and Dorico is then able to produce a more balanced result without manual intervention.

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My teaching starts in 14 minutes but I wanted to say… yes!! I decreased the amount of space required between words and it immediately looks way better. Thanks Lillie. I’ll post back here with some output when I get it optimized.

Edit: I made the value a negative number and the note spacing looks even better but the words are now scrunched up even more. Leo suggested making the font smaller for this line. But this is great intel, I’ll play with it later.

Great! There is also an option in Layout Options > Note Spacing > Make space for lyrics, which when deactivated causes Dorico to ignore lyrics entirely when calculating note spacing. However, this almost certainly will result in lyrics colliding and therefore manual intervention in horizontal graphical offsetting of lyrics.

You can make your own calculation over which way produces the better result with the smaller amount of fixup for your project.

Got it, I’ll have a look. I played with it and manually moved a few notes around and got something I think the client will be able to live with. Night and day from what it was. Thanks again for taking the time to reply.

In that example, the text needs to be a bit smaller.

Elaine Gould recommends making the body height of the type (e.g. the height of letters like aeouxzcvnm) to be about the height of one space - no smaller, but not much larger either.

However, I’d recommend a couple of general points for improving lyric spacing:

  1. Decrease the “Minimum SPACE to allow for hyphen” (NB: not Minimum GAP) to ¼ spaces. This allows hyphens to be closer to the syllables, without ‘padding’.

  2. In the Spacing sub-section, decrease the Minimum gap between adjacent lyrics.

  3. Choose a different font, or reduce the point size. Academico is quite a ‘wide’ face, which makes it not particularly well suited to lyrics. (This is no slight on its designer - the same is true of New Century Schoolbook on which it is modelled.)

My top picks for lyric fonts are (in no particular order):

  1. Finale Lyrics. A condensed Times, freely available from MakeMusic.

  2. Minion Pro: Ideally, the Caption or Condensed Caption sizes.

  3. Arno Pro: A nice humanist face – again, choose the Caption size, if possible.

  4. ITC Cheltenham Book Condensed.

  5. ITC Cushing Book.

  6. ITC Century Book Condensed. Can look a bit too condensed.

  7. Kepler. The Semicondensed Caption size is the best fit, IMO.

  8. Nepomuk.
    Releases · benwiggy/nepomuk · GitHub
    (I may have had something to do with that one.)