Guitar TAB Clarity Issue - publisher not happy

• May 21, 2021 - 07:44

I have had quite a few guitar books with a large publisher, most of them done with Sibelius. Now I am working with Musescore 3 - latest version - they are saying I need to make bold the guitar tab numbers, as they just can't be viewed as easily as with Sibelius.

I've tried the various options at Stave/PartProperties/Advanced/FretMarksFont - Sans and Serif, but am unable to make them bold. The Renaissance lute tab gives a nice bold font, but they don't want that style for this production.

So, is there any way I can embolden the fret numbers?


In reply to by yonah_ag

Yes, but as explained here:, I quote: "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?)."

And here:
"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."

In reply to by cadiz1

I know. I also contributed to that thread.

If standard notation was only offered in a mid grey font then the best solution would be a black font, not a larger font.

Bold makes a huge difference to clarity. Only 1 published score book that I own lacks bold and it's really annoying.

If you check out the link from cadiz1 you will see a couple of workarounds but the are not very good. I have only one purchased book of scores which does not have bold tab and it's really hard work.

OK, guys, thanks for that. I increased the font size by one point, and it did seem to make things a bit more legible. But, yes, Bold would be useful! Hopefully it will be scheduled for the next upgrade.

I'll see what the publisher thinks.

Thanks especially to cadiz1

The publisher has agreed 2mm line spacing and a font of 10 points. But I can tell they are not totally happy. BOLD really does make a difference.

In reply to by robmackillop

It's unfortunate, but I feel like a party pooper sometimes! And yet I have absolutely nothing against this feature request of course. Some points:
1. If this implementation was easy, I suppose it would have been done long ago.
2. There are several hundred feature requests pending (including others concerning the TAB feature). The software is open source, a developer would have to be interested in the subject and have the time and motivation to implement it.
However, the one who implemented the Tablature part of MuseScore has left the boat for a long time now. I might as well tell you that this Tablature part has not evolved at all since version 2. At most, a few regressions need to be corrected here and there sometimes.
3. Personally, I don't remember that the fact that the Tablature is not with a bold font made me give up buying a book! Rest assured. If it's readable, it's fine. With today's softwares, reading is very comfortable (bold font or not), compared to some facsimiles!
And I suppose, in your case, that Tablature is associated with a standard staff.

In reply to by cadiz1

I use treble clef and tab, but with the time signals in the tab - I don't like tab without time signals. I've now done three whole books with Musescore, and do prefer it over Sibelius, and have recommended it to many others. The fact that it is open source is incredible, and I have not criticised anyone associated with the software. But I am a bit surprised that the tab feature has not been improved since version 2.

To be honest, I was happy with the tab. It was the publisher who wanted an improvement in legibility, suggesting bold. But they're the ones who put their money into the product, and tend to know what they are talking about.

One thing neither Sibelius or Musescore has got right in tab is the time signal for a minim (half note). Sibelius has NOTHING at all! while Musescore has an option of half a line, i.e. half the length of a crotchet, but the length is really of two crotchets. But I remain a great fan of Musescore.

In reply to by cadiz1

cadiz1: You're not a party pooper, so please don't feel like one. :-)

1) It does seem easy but probably isn't. We only need characters 0 to 9 in a scalable bold font.

2) Of course.

I tried to set up a development environment to have a look at this issue but I just haven't had time - and I think that my ancient PC may not be up to spec. I may be able to implement it as a plugin, hiding the TAB number and replacing with a bold text character, maybe in Edwin font.

3) My eyesight is not so good and that book above never gets used. It might as well go in the paper recycle.

The associated notation staff is a waste of page space. (for me), as I only use TAB.

FAX scores! Sounds awful.

I really like Musescore and abandoned Guitar Pro some months ago.

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