Tab: make font bold, italic or/and underlined

• Jan 12, 2018 - 21:44
Graphical (UI)
S5 - Suggestion

Tab: add the possibility to make the selected font bold, italic or/and underlined. Especially for people with poor eye sight.



1a) Do you need to possibility to mark individual fret marks as bold / italics / underlined
1b) "Just" turn the whole font bold / italics / underlined?

2) Underline: I would rule it out ruthlessly! Underline has no place in typography, it is an unfortunate left-over of the typing machine time, when there was little else available for emphasis. In particular, in tablatures, the added line segments below the fret marks -- running along the string lines -- would make for a very cluttered and confused output.

3) I have quite a poor sight myself; I doubt that either bold or italics would make the text any clearer in general, and in particular in tabs, where there is no word context to help. The upright normal is, in the great majority of cases, the most readable style of a typeface. If the text is hard to read for a particular usage, the "real" solution is to make it larger, not fancier.

@Saitenpicker : thanks for the additional clarification.

In principle it would be relatively simple to add check boxes for Bold and Italics, pass the additional properties to the font engine and leave to it to sort out the details.

In practice, with the exception of FreeSerif, for which the bold and the italics fonts are installed with MS, for all the other typefaces used in MS tablatures, the bold and the italics would be synthesised by the engine, with quite sub-optimal results (in particular for the italics, which is almost impossible to synthesise decently).

In addition, for the historic typefaces (6 out of 8 currently available) which are exampled on historic sources, those variants would make little sense and would certainly look 'odd'.

With these assumptions, I can probably arrive at an extended tablature configuration dialogue box, but I expect the results to be in most cases unsatisfactory, which would make the change itself debatable and cause for more arguments (and not particularly compelling to implement :( ).

If the main reason for this is reading ease (which I would perfectly understand), I still suggest experimenting with the staff space size (I regularly use 2.0mm for tablatures) and font size (10pt?).

Here is what I did, but your mileage may vary. I right clicked on the staff and went to "Staff Properties". By changing the scale in "Staff Properties", you change the size of whole thing. If you go into "Staff Properties" and then click on the "Advanced Style Properties" button, you can change the font and the font size without making the actually staff bigger. I have just figured this out and am playing around with it, so I don't have it looking just the way I want yet.

+1 for bold TAB numbers option.

Notation already looks bold compared to the TAB numbers bar5-mu.png

For a TAB only score the numbers can be made to look bolder by setting the staff lines, barlines, stems, beams, hooks etc. to grey

Hello, first post on a Musescore issue. Hope this one isn't dead yet...
I would dearly love to have the ability to bold individual tab numbers to indicate what should be played by the thumb. When I learn or write a song, I like to enter the entire thing with as much help in the score as I can put in, and having the ability to bold certain tab "notes" would be awesome. For an example, I have a couple finger style books by Mark Hanson ("The Art of Solo Fingerpicking" and "The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking") that use this in the tab... very useful!

In reply to by agfrag

@agfrag: That's another good case for bold TAB although individual bold numbers may be harder than simply using a completely bold TAB font. In the meantime you can either use colour, (easy), or text bolding, (tedious) as these examples show:

TAB Colour.png

TAB Bold.png

I want to register something here too. I work with one of the largest guitar publishers in the world, and have done all my books with them with Sibelius, which I have never been happy with. So I changed to Musescore, and this is MUCH better! BUT, the publisher is not happy with how light the tab numbers are, and if not fixed I might have to go back to Sibelius! Otherwise they love what they are seeing. So, please, please, please, give us the choice to make the general tab bold.
The Renaissance lute tab is GREAT! Very bold, and a nice font, but the publisher doesn't want that font for this project.
Best wishes to all who work at Musescore, you are doing incredible work for the music community!

In reply to by robmackillop

Workaround No Yes

Your mention of Renaissance lute tab triggered an idea...
Install the font attached to my post - I replaced the Renaissance lute tab with a bold sans serif font; on MacOs it works flawlessly - my font overwrites the built-in tab font.
Try out the following steps:
(a) install the font attached and open a MuseScore file with a TAB staff
(b) in your MuseScore file with your TAB right-click on your TAB staff
(c) pick "Staff/Part Properties..."
(d) click on "Advanced Style Properties..."
(e) instead of "MuseScore Tab Sans" pick "MuseScore Tab Renaiss"
You're set!
PS: This is just a dirty workaround, but you will get what you are looking for ;-)
PSS: If you don't like it or if it shouldn't work, just uninstall the font - Musescore will read the built-in font again...

Attachment Size 15.48 KB

In reply to by johngreen


Works on Windows 10. Thank you so much for this neat solution.

The font went into Windows>Fonts as mscoreTabRenaisssanceBold.ttf but is listed with name MScoreTablature Medium. How would I make my own version of a substitute font? Is it the .ttf filename that matters, or the font name within the .ttf - or both?

In reply to by johngreen

An installed font overrides MuseScore's built-in font! Wow!! Why didn't I think of that?? Freedom!! Or at least a bit more of it, at the expense of a Lute Tablature font I'll probably never use.

Using @johngreen's method I now have access to two of my custom tablature fonts in MuseScore, without compiling my fonts into a build. So simple on Mac OS. Wow! And THANKS for this idea!

As yonah points out, johngreen's method enables us to:

    • create scores with our own custom (or preferred) tablature font
    • print with that custom tablature font
    • Generate PDFs with that custom font

But of course:

    • when uploaded to, scores that use a custom font won't be able to display that font so tablature display would fall back to the original built-in font.

So we need some options:

• Previously recommended, MuseScore's tablature menu could allow us to choose system fonts. Granted, that would only work locally and not for shared scores, unless others using the score also have the necessary font installed as a system resource. Otherwise score sharing would require that MuseScore bake the font in at compile, which an alternative I find unappealing.

As yonah said, "...we just need the website to support this for online scores." Quite so. Exactly.

• Problem solved if MuseScore could access a WebFont!

• Alternately, could a .mscz file could store a font subset, like PDFs do? That would solve the portability issue. In my case I'd usually only need 8 to 12 chars/vectors embedded and to provide the functionality inherent to various fonts of mine ... plus enable portability! And usually I'd only use one custom/alternate font per score. So that could be pretty efficient, at least for use cases like mine.


johngreen wrote > I used fontforge to replace the glyphs. The font I used is FreeSans Bold. The OS reads the information from the font file directly - the font itself (.ttf) can be named any way you want...*

Originally I intended to use my installation of FontLab (on the Mac), but it wouldn't open. So I used Fontographer, replacing glyphs with "hand drawn" vectors belonging to another font of mine. Then I generated the .ttf font file and installed it as a system font. Super easy! If MuseScore had a couple of dummy fonts baked in this could be accomplished this without clobbering a lute font.

Freedom! Only thing lacking is full portability.

Of course, allowing system fonts in the tablature font menu would alleviate all this rigamarole. AND it's understood that doing so would not support full portability, unless people only use fonts reliably available on MacOS, Windows, Linux. And since I have created custom tablature fonts, they would only be accessible in MuseScore if I publish then and users install them.

I've never used FontForge. You like it?