Font styles versus paragraph styles

I’m trying to better understand the difference between Dorico’s font styles and paragraph styles lists:

Is it an oversimplification to think of the paragraph styles list as consisting of kinds of text that typically apply the default text font, and to which minor variations (of size and style) can be applied . . .

. . . whereas the items listed under “font styles” consist of objects (text or music) that by custom might require fonts other than the default text font?


Many of the Font Styles also inherit and then slightly diverge from the Default Text style (albeit the one in Font Styles rather than the one in Paragraph Styles), so I’m not sure that’s a good way of looking at it.

Most of the styles that can legitimately be entered/edited within the main Write mode screen are Font Styles: Lyrics, Tempo marks, Dynamics, Shift-X text.
Most of the styles that’re best altered in Setup mode, Project Info or in the Master Page Editor (or indirectly) are Paragraph Styles: Titles/Composer/Copyright etc.

It seems to be a practical thing, though, in that Paragraph Styles are for pieces of text that may be multi-line or may need to space above/below other pieces of text.

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Thanks for this, Leo.

Yes, I just noticed that “Default Text” shows up in both categories, but with different (default) sizes (10 pt in Font Styles, 12 pt in Paragraph Text). Was this in relation to a programming matter – e.g., was it easier for Dorico programmers/developers to have all Paragraph items that have Default Text as Parent refer to a “Default Text” within their own domain (so to speak), rather than have them cross-reference to the Font Styles list?

I also notice that Page Number Font within the Font Styles list uses Academico, and has defaults of 8 pt and “bold”, and another Page Number within Paragraph Text also uses Academico, but has defaults of 10 pt and “regular”. Why the duplication, and which is automatically applied to project pages?

Thanks again!

There’s plenty of precedent for titles etc. using a different font to that used within the main body of the music, so I’d guess that’s why there are two different, separate, defaults.

Page numbers started off as Font Style but were moved to Paragraph Styles at some point (sorry, I can’t remember when). Presumably the Font Style remains in place to maintain compatibility with old projects.

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Bar numbers did too I guess. Oddly there is no Bar Numbers Font listed in the Font Styles dropdown (as they are now Paragraph Styles) but there is a Bar Number Font Style available in the Edit Chord Symbol Component dialog box. Since that dropdown is alphabetical, it comes up first by default even though it doesn’t seem to actually exist anymore.


. . . hence “Paragraph” Styles . . . :relaxed:

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Shift-x uses paragraph styles though, does it not?

There’s a very cursory comparison in the manual here.

Basically, “font styles” are used in notations that use text but fundamentally aren’t literally text, like dynamics, playing techniques, fingerings. “Paragraph styles” are used in bits of text that aren’t notations, like titles, composer, flow headings. You’ll probably find some exceptions to these loose rules, but perhaps it’s still a useful distinction.

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Thank-you, Lillie!

It took me repeated readings of Text objects vs. text in text frames and Text formatting to really comprehend what you so neatly just summarized in one paragraph (no pun intended). Reduced to its essentials:

Of course, to understand that, I first had to wrestle with the definitions of “text object”, “system text”, and “text frames”, with which I wasn’t familiar.

As it happens, the first link you mention has very recently been comprehensively reworked so you’ll find it very different (and hopefully more useful) in the next manual.