Chord Positioning and Alignment

Finale’s Selection Tool makes it easy to click and drag any chord  into the right place. Sometimes, however, you need to move a lot of chords the same amount, or align all of your chords to appear uniform. Today I’ll share three options to make the process easier for you.

Finale’s default document style center-aligns chords by default. This means that when you click and begin typing a long chord suffix, the chord can appear further to the left than you had intended.


While center alignment can work perfectly with shorter suffixes, sometimes you may need to left-align chords so they begin exactly over the beat. To do this, click the Chord Tool, then click Chord > Left-Align Chords. Your document will immediately update, moving chords slightly to the right, to show that they are now left-aligned.


For vertical alignment, the Chord Positioning Triangles can be extremely helpful. These are the four triangles that appear to the left of your system when the Chord Tool is active. You can drag each triangle to reposition your chord symbols in different ways. Here’s how all four triangles work:

  1. The leftmost triangle positions items for every staff in the score in all systems.
  2. The second triangle from the left positions items in the adjacent staff.
  3. The third triangle from the left positions items in the adjacent staff in the adjacent system only.
  4. The fourth triangle from the left specifies the vertical positioning for the next item entered.

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Knowing and using these four triangles can help ensure that your chords are all the right distance away from the staff, without any guesswork or ‘eyeballing’ involved.

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The Change Chord Assignments dialog box offers a third way to position chords in a selected region.

To get there, press the Escape key twice so that the Selection Tool is active. Select the measures in your score you want to edit, so the music highlights blue. Next, click Utilities > Change > Chords.

Dialog BoxWhile I encourage you to experiment with all the options offered here, since we’re talking about chord positioning today, take a look at the center section of the dialog box. Here you can adjust chord position by entering specific values relative to either the Default Chord Position or their Current Position. These values should be expressed in whatever units of measurement your document is using (inches are the default), and they can be positive or negative.

Have any alignment or chord questions? Are there other topics you’d like to see covered? Let us know by clicking the “Comments” link below.

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