Chord Charts – line up your chords and lyrics!

I have seen a LOT of guitar-oriented chord charts over the years, many of them done really bad. For me, some were almost unreadable.

Some silly things I’ve seen include:

  • small, 12-point type
  • every single chorus to the song on the chord chart, turning it into a good three pages (even though there’s really only two verses, one chorus, and a bridge that can easily fit on one page)
  • a solid horizontal line between every lyric and chord line (it looked like someone really liked Excel spreadsheets)
  • The wrong words and/or chords
  • Centered text – yikes
  • Weird amounts of lines/divisions for the verse or chorus. Most likely, it will easily fit on 2-4 lines.

And my personal pet peeve – not lining up the chord with the lyric. Here’s what I mean. When you’re creating a chord chart for a song, make sure that chord sits right above the word you sing when you hit that chord.

Sometimes you might have to do these things to achieve “alignment:”

  • Place the chord over the beginning of the word
  • Place the chord over the second or third syllable of a word
  • Place the chord after the word
  • Put a dash or space in the word if there are two or more chords per word, and won’t fit neatly over the word
  • etc

In my example included in this post, you can clearly see how I line up chords. This is a pretty simple chord sheet, so

Don’t randomly drop the chord somewhere around where the word is. It might work for you, but when another musician is using your chord chart, that has the potential to confuse them – i.e., “when do I play the chord?”

Make sense? Now – go make those chord sheets, and LINE UP THOSE CHORDS!

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David Lee King

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