How to Edit Chord Symbol Appearances in Dorico

🎬  This article is a transcription of one of the excellent tutorial videos posted to the official Dorico YouTube channel.

Presented here in written form with the kind permission of its creator, Anthony Hughes, this tutorial is titled “How to Edit Chord Symbol Appearances in Dorico”…

Hello, I’m Anthony Hughes, and in this video I shall be showing you how to use the Chord Symbol Appearance Editor now found in Dorico, the advanced music notation software from Steinberg.

(1) Enter a chord symbol, (2) Project Default Appearances list, (3) Single Overrides list, (4) Editor, (5) Controls, (6) Alternative component presentations

In my previous video that shows you How to Edit Chord Symbols, I explore the multitude of Engraving Options that allow you to set your preferred styles for each of the various component parts of Chord Symbols and ultimately control their overall look throughout your projects.

Sometimes, however, you may find the need for even finer control over the appearance of your chord symbols.

I’m in Engrave mode…, and when I double-click a chord symbol in Engrave mode, it is opened in the Edit Chord Symbol Appearance dialog. You can also simply press Enter.

Here, I am able to select each of the constituent parts of the chord symbol and move them around freely to the precise positions that I need them.

[View example of this section starting at 1:00 in on the tutorial video]

Notice that in order to preserve the relationships between the various components, when I move (for example) this minor component, it pushes and pulls the 7 along with it.

As well as dragging components with the mouse, I can use these spin box controls to set the measurements precisely,

and can also make use of the standard Dorico key commands for moving items: Alt+the arrow keys and adding Control (or Command on Mac) to move in larger increments.

The root is considered the origin point of the entire chord symbol and so cannot be moved.

We can also scale each of the components independently of each other … and there are handy reset buttons to quickly clear the values back to zero.


Dorico also lets you override the style of specific components that you may have set in engraving options on an individual chord symbol, simply by choosing an alternative from the list.

By using all these controls together, you can quickly build styles that Dorico’s comprehensive engraving options may not cater for, should you have a specific representation that you need to use in your project.

Pressing OK accepts the change and applies it to the chord symbol in your score.

Now in order to protect both your newly edited chord symbol, and all of the other chord symbols in your project, Dorico automatically makes copies of the individual components that it uses to make up the chord symbol when you make a change.

That way, you can be sure that any other chord symbols in your project will not be inadvertently modified when you make edits here and also that any subsequent changes made to Engraving Options will not override the modifications you have made in this appearance editor.

Usefully, however, changing the font used for Chord Symbols does carry through to your edited items.

Duplicate components show in the list with a red corner,

and any that are no longer being used by any chord symbol have the ability to delete them to keep things nice and tidy.


You can even double-click on a component to edit it further. Add additional symbols using the panel on the right, and format them as you want before pressing OK to apply the change to your chord symbol.

In order to remove an edited appearance, select the chord symbol, and from the Edit menu choose Reset Appearance.

Now, everything we have been doing up until this point has been editing single instances of specific chord symbols, and so if we were to return to this rather dramatic edit I made and input another D minor 7 chord next to it, Dorico will use the default appearance for the new chord symbol, based on the engraving options set in the project.

However, you can set this edited appearance to be the default for this chord symbol in the current project. Let’s open the Engraving Options by pressing Ctrl+Shift+E (that’s Cmd+Shift+E on Mac) and choose the Chord Symbol category, then scroll all the way down to the very bottom of the dialog.

Here you’ll find the Project Default Appearances section,

and clicking this Edit… button will bring up an editor dialog that looks very similar to the one we’ve been using.

In the sidebar on the left here, you will find this Single Overrides list and I can select the Dm7 chord symbol and see the edits I have already made.

If I would like this appearance to be the default for all Dm7 chords in the project, all I have to do is click this button

to “Promote” it to be the Project Default. You’ll notice it jumps up to the top list here,

where it becomes editable again so I can make further changes if I so wish, and if I close the dialog and return to the score, you can see that now both Dm7 chord symbols are using my edited appearance.

Indeed, now when I create more Dm7s, they will always look like this, in this project.

Let’s just return to that Project Default Chord Symbol Appearances dialog again, so I can show you that at the top here I can enter other chord symbols that I wish to set specific appearances for, by typing in exactly the same way as I do in the popover when inputting chord symbols in Write mode, then pressing this ‘plus’ button to add it to the list.

I can add as many different chords as I need for the project and edit them exactly as I like.

You may well find that you very rarely—if ever—find the need to edit the appearance of Dorico’s chord symbols, however having these additional features available can be extremely useful.

For example, changing the font used by chord symbols—as I have done here—may give rise to situations where the kerning could be improved, simply down to the different properties of the font glyphs in use.

If you’ve found this video helpful, please… subscribe to our Dorico channel today to see many more videos like this one.

I’m Anthony Hughes, thanks for watching.


Wie man in Dorico die Darstellung von Akkordsymbolen bearbeitet

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