Here is some information about formatting lyrics for performance.
Often, we put some special characters at the start and possibly at the end of a line of lyrics, to help the audience distinguish between what we intend to be “sung” lines versus “spoken” lines.
A “sung“ line might look like this:
~• Over the hills and far away •~
♫ Over the hills and far away
One question that comes up is … how do we get those funny symbols into the text?
The usual way is by using alt codes.
Here is one of many websites that show the alt codes that you can use to enter those symbols.
How to use alt codes
Follow these steps to enter a symbol using an alt code:
- Press the Num Lock key so that it is toggled on.
- Press and hold down the left or right ALT key
- Type the alt code on the numpad (the numeric keypad of your computer keyboard)
- Release the ALT key
When you release the alt key, the symbol should appear.
Using symbols that don't have alt codes
There are some symbols that you might want to use as lyric formatting characters which you cannot type in using an alt code. For example, one symbol that we use a lot is the white diamond (or "lozenge") character ◊. If you can't type a character using an alt code, you'll have to find that character someplace (like here!) and copy and paste it.
Symbols in the chat window versus symbols in chat bubbles
Here is one thing that you may want to consider when choosing a particular symbol to format your lyrics: sometimes symbols appear differently in chat bubbles than in the chat window.
In particular, some symbols that appear as intended in chat bubbles may appear as a ‘?’ character in the chat window; the ‘?’ means that the font used to display the characters in the chat window doesn’t have that particular symbol, so it shows a ‘?’ character instead.
The reason that you might care about how the symbols look in the chat window is that, of course, some people may not have chat bubbles turned on, so that the chat window is all they see, and many people find that having a ‘?’ character in front of each line of lyrics looks kind of odd :)
A tool to help format lyrics
I once wrote a little app that allows you to add these formatting symbols all at once without having to type it for each line. Here is the app, and here is a link to instructions as to how to use it.