What does a comma (,) mean above notes?

Does no one else think there’s a flaw in Dorico’s spacing algorithms?

Maybe I should start a separate thread.

Perhaps there was a lot going on in other voices and the beats needed to be aligned.

That would be a good idea. And please show some examples.

Have a look at ‘O Danny Boy’ above (the first three quavers for example).

One can experiment with combinations of Lyrics → Spacing settings in Engraving Options but changing the staff size for the Layout will often mess things up again.

I asked if something could be done to create more regularity within bars but Daniel suggested that it would add too much complexity.

As far as I can tell, this comes down to the width of the lyrics. I don’t have Ben’s source file or know his settings, but on 9x12 at a 6mm staff size, Academico 11pt staff-relative:

Academico 11pt but with the Lyric Paragraph Style’s stretch set to 84%:

Finale Maestro Text 12pt staff-relative:

Finale Lyrics 12pt staff-relative:

Here’s an example of what the note spacing looks like with narrower syllables (or no lyrics at all):

The problem can be there even if you only have the soprano line [Edit: as Leo has demonstrated]. I see this kind of irregularity all the time.

One thing I have noticed is that the Dorico defaults for hyphen spacing are rather on the generous side, so decreasing those values permits lyrics to tuck together a bit more neatly and can help in many situations (like the first three quavers).

Hyphens. Hyphens are one of the biggest culprits. The spacing defaults around them are much too large, in my opinion.

Also, I tend to reduce “minimum space between lyrics” to a pretty low number.


One option I once asked — and I remember Daniel was ok to acknowledge it could really be nice to implement it – is that, when the syllables are really close, they don’t need an hyphen. It’s rather usual in (old) opera scores to have a multisyllable word without hyphens below say three different notes, because the distribution is self-explanatory and hyphens are just clutter. This would solve most of the issues I have (where I usually fake this notation to solve them).


Agree fully. Finale offered this from version 1.0, and Sibelius does it too. But what they don’t do is: When a hyphen disappears, the space must be completely closed up, as if the syllables were typed in one string. I have done a lot of nudging of syllables to compensate for this. But in recent years more often I combine the syllables myself to ensure correct letterspacing.


While one can tinker with the settings, ultimately I don’t think they’re the problem.

It’s hard to see that anything will really improve unless Dorico makes an additional pass to regulate the distribution of beats within the bar and the subdivisions within the beats.

The hyphen section of this thread should really be split off from the breath-mark section, but at this late date, this is something only someone like @dspreadbury can so.

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Sometimes they’re used expressively - for example Faure requiem, the tenor lines in Agnus Dei…

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