OnSong is designed to work best with text-based chords and lyrics. Converting your existing file into text-based charts gives you the best flexibility when it comes to formatting your song, or transposing it into other keys. In addition, you can interact with the chart for changing lyrics for display on a TV or projector, or assign actions to sections when they are selected. Simply, OnSong works best with a text-based format.
OnSong supports many file formats that allow you to view "as-is" in the song viewer. However, you won't be able to format the songs, transpose, or use low-light mode. You can convert those files into an OnSong or ChordPro file format to allow this. However, you'll find that this is not an automatic process and requires you to tweak the results text into a format for the best results. For this reason, it's recommended that you convert your files over time. For instance, convert the files that you are planning to play in the upcoming week instead of trying to process hundreds of songs all at once. Just expect to spend a few minutes tweaking each song once you understand some basics of the OnSong file format and the problems you may encounter for each file type.
Word Processing Files
You may have existing files that contain your charts. While it's easy to use these files and display them "as-is" in OnSong, it's best to convert them to a text-based document. Let's examine these file formats and find some of the challenges in moving them to a text-based format.
There have been many ways to create a chord chart using off-the-shelf software like word processors. The problem is that these are designed to print, and do not carry musical meaning. If you've written chord charts in a word processor in the past, you may have noticed that you have to use a lot of spaces or tab characters to place the chords over the appropriate word or phrase. While this may look good in the font you have selected, changing the font will cause the chords to move around. This is because fonts have varying widths for different characters.
Typically the space character is very narrow, while other characters are wider like an "M". If you switch the font of the document to a fixed-width font such as Courier, it will move your chords considerably. This is because, in these typewriter-looking fonts, each character is the same width. This means that all the spaces you used to place the chord over the correct word now push the chord further to the right. When we move these files to a text-based format, this same thing will happen since OnSong aligns the chords above the lyrics based on the relative character position. For instance, if the "C" chord you have should be sung on the word "me" within the lyrics "He loves me", then you should have 9 spaces in front of the C on the line above the lyrics.
OnSong allows you to extract the text from many word processing files. If you do this or choose to copy and paste the text into the song editor, or if you are using OnSong Console, the same issue may arise with these file formats and you will need to handle it after extracting the text into OnSong.
Adobe PDF Files
If you have files that are available as PDF documents, you will experience some other issues. PDF files can contain a lot of different challenges depending on how it was authored. For instance, if the PDF file contains text with embedded fonts, then extracting text from a PDF file is similar to a word processing document with chords being misaligned. If the PDF is created by scanning a document, then OnSong needs to have a computer "read" the text like a human. In this case, it may remove spaces in lines of chords, causing them to be pushed towards the left. Either way, you can expect to align chords after the text is extracted.
Lastly, any formatting that was applied to the word processing or PDF file will be lost in this process. You will need to add formatting back in the text-based format using features such as line formatting, but you will find that much of the formatting is accomplished by OnSong itself when it identifies chords and other musical meaning.
There are many ways to extract the text from a supported file. For instance, if you are using the song editor within OnSong, you can tap on the Extract Text button in the Conversion Toolbar that appears at the bottom of the screen before the keyboard appears. This will only extract the text from the document but does not convert it to an OnSong or ChordPro file format. That means you will need to understand these file formats to make the necessary changes.
Perhaps an easier way is to use OnSong Console. This would allow you to copy and paste from documents on your computer into a web-based application. When you paste the content in the song editor, the song preview automatically updates and shows you how the chart will appear when you save it to your device.
Regardless, you will need to make edits to your content to work best with OnSong. Please review the Writing Your Own Chord Chart to learn more about the basics of writing a text-based chord chart.