Notation types

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This page shows old instructions for MuseScore 3.
For MuseScore 4 users, see Notation types.

There are two fundamentally distinct types of notational functionality in Musescore, designed and implemented from the beginning for different purposes:

  • Functional symbols and text that when added to a score, optionally,
    • automatically use a desirable Layout and formatting,
    • affect the score semantically in a way that is most useful or makes most sense (the consensus after careful discussions among Musescore BVBA admins)
    • is automatically replaced when you add another symbol or text so that the score makes sense, for example adding an accidental sharp # removes the existing flat b , and
    • provide an expected playback effect created by Synthesizer.
  • Non-functional symbols and text that when added to a score,
    • serves visual purpose only, and does not affect the score semantics, because either
      • the sheer amount of notations and the rare usage of most of them makes implementation impractical, or
      • the digital resource itself is not created or maintained by Musescore dev team, for example items inside the Bravura font by Steinberg (Github) and the SMuFL codepoint - glyph definitions (wikipedia), or
      • there is no consensus on its musical interpretation yet, or
      • it is a visual marking popularly used on a score but has minimal musical effect,
    • can be attached to a symbol or text on the score in a way that isn't normally supported,
    • does not affect Synthesizer playback, and
    • is not removed unless you deliberately do so.

Musescore usually create a functional item when you do common editing such as pressing a keyboard shortcuts, clicking a toolbar button, or adding an item from the palette, as it is the most common expectation. Musescore uses different classes of elements internally, their usage are not interchangeable: They have distinct property fields that serves different purpose besides engraving or visual display. For example, if you add a Staff Text and type a #, it can never be configured to change a note's pitch, you must create a new accidental. See also Text types.

Musescore is shipped with non-functional symbols and text not interpreted by Musescore (yet), such as historical clefs under the SMUFLs of Bravura font, Musescore also provides non-functional versions of most functional items. These can be found under the Symbols category in the Master palette. Use a non-functional symbol or text when:

  • you do not want it interpreted by Musescore,
  • you want to attach it in a way that isn't normally supported, like attaching an accidental to a barline,
  • for example, the non-functional verions of the sharp # symbol does not provide automatic layout and does not change a note's pitch, see the example in the Accidentals chapter.

Alternatively, insert Images onto a score.


A specific non-functional symbol or text on a score can sometimes be achieved by the two approaches different in resizing capability:

  • Add the symbol directly from the Symbols category of the Master palette:
    • it has a fixed size that scales with the score properly, but
    • you cannot assign a custom "Font Size" setting in the Inspector.
  • Add a Text, and then add the symbol as a unicode glyph using Text editing: Insert a special character:
    • the number of unicode musical glyphs are limited,
    • you can assign a custom "Font Size" setting, and other settings such as "Font Family", in the Inspector,
    • the symbol-text sizing and alignment is tricky.

Images inserted onto a score are resizable, .svg files enlarges without blurring, see Images.

See also

Text types

External links

Discussion on symbol usage

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