I get that extension lines (undercores) are used where one syllable at the end of a word extends over multiple notes. But is this also true when the notes are tied together?

In other words: Is one of the below notations more correct than the other, and why?

Alternative 1:

Lyrics without underscore on tied notes

Alternative 2:

enter image description here

  • 1
    Unless there's been a particular study on this, which seems unlikely, the only real answer is "What do you / your readers prefer?".
    – user28
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 21:46
  • 1
    @MatthewRead If the OP's readers never read any sheet music except what the OP produces, maybe so. Otherwise, it's probably better to use the same convention that other music publishers have been using for the last few centuries.
    – user19146
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 21:56

1 Answer 1


Alternative 2 is correct. Some references:


Word extensions should run from the final syllable of a word and stop at a point aligning with the right hand edge of the last note to which that syllable is sung.

https://archive.org/details/preparingmusicma00dona Page 86:

The extension of words through the duration of several tied notes or notes of varying pitch is shown by a solid line extending along the type line...


If a syllable extends over several notes or a single very long note an extender line is usually drawn from the syllable extending under all the notes for that syllable.


A melisma is a syllable or word that extends over two or more notes. It is indicated by an underline extending from the base of a syllable to the last note of the melisma.

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