LaTeX Songbook Style

— Contents —

Description Changes In Version 4.3
Sample Use Other Resources
Obtaining The Style Request For Assistance
Documentation History


Over 15 years ago, I wrote the Songbook style to maintain the songbooks and overhead transparencies for the church I belong to. I was tired of having to type each song three times: once for the musicians, once for printed songbooks, and again for the overhead projector. So, I created a LaTeX style that would print all three formats from a single input file.

The Songbook style will also print a table of contents, an index sorted by title and first line, an index by artist (composer), and an index sorted by key. It attempts to handle songs in multiple keys, as well as songs in multiple languages.

The latest release of the style only works with LaTeX2e; an older release is also available from this server for those LaTeX users who have not yet migrated to LaTeX2e.

Sample Use

Here’s an example of how a song looks when it has been typed up for use with the songbook style; before and after typesetting (more comprehensive examples are provided by way of PDF files, later on this page):

  • TeX source for sample — Unformatted LaTeX source for the sample song
  • Chord Book format — Words & chords, for musicians
  • Compact Chord Book format — Compact words & chords song for musicians (different song than the other examples, to better show the format)
  • Word Book format — Words-only, for congregational use
  • Overhead format — Overhead transparency master
  • Obtaining The Style

    Version 4.3

    Version 4.3 is a minor release of the Songbook style.  It only works with LaTeX2e.  It can be downloaded from this site:

    Or, downloaded from any of the CTAN sites. On my favourite CTAN site the URL is:

    Version 3.1

    Version 3.1 only works with LaTeX2e.  I'm not sure why anyone would want to use this version, but I've left it available here, just in case.  Version 3.1 is only available from this web page:

    SongbookRelease-3.1.tar.gz (185KB)

    Version 2.3

    Version 2.3 works with LaTeX 2.09 and is still available here for those who require it. It is only available from this web page:

    sbpkg-2.3.tar.gz (37KB)


    LaTeX2e doc.sty styled documentation is supplied with the style.  A PDF version of the document is available from this page:

  • PDF version of songbook document for release 4.3 (.dvi and .tex versions of the documentation are contained in the release, above)
  • Sample Output

    Included with the Songbook style is a sample songbook. Preformatted versions of all the sample book’s outputs are included with the release as .dvi files. The following set of links provide these sample outputs in PDF format (except for the source code link, which is a text file):

  • Source code for the sample songbook
  • Words and chords songbook
  • Compact words & chords songbook
  • Words only songbook
  • Overhead transparency masters
  • Title and first line index
  • Index by song key
  • Index by song artist (composer)
  • Table of contents
  • Changes In Version 4.3

    This is minor release, made to correct a problem I introduced in the previous release.  The v4.2 change to the xlatn environment have been reversed and a new songTranslation environment created to support the Artist index feature introduced in v4.2

    Other Resources

    LyX Module

    Christian Ridderström has written a module for LyX that provides easy editing of Songbook files using LyX’s graphical interface.  Christian’s documentation and code are available from his “LyX files for use with the LaTeX Songbook style package” web page.

    Here is an clipping from a screen shot that shows what a song looks like while you edit it using Christian’s LyX module:

    Chord Database

    Walter Phillips has created a database application for the storage of songs.  His application outputs for printing using LaTeX Songbook formatted songbooks.  See the SourgeForge project page for more information:

    Contributed Code

    Included with the Songbook style are some user contributed tools that work along with Songbook source files:

    a Perl script to convert chordpro formatted source files into Songbook format; written by Abel Chow.
    a Perl script tat modulates Songbook style songs from one key to another; written by .
    a TeX style which draws guitar chord symbols; written by Joel M. Hoffman.

    Other Songbook Styles

    In my own searches of webspace for songbook resources I have come across many websites containing resources for songbook or songsheet production.  A selection of them are listed here in alphabetic order:

    Request For Assistance

    I am always looking for other contributed scripts and macros to include with the Songbook style; my intent is to include them in the contrib directory of the release package (ownership of contributed packages remains with the writer of the contributed piece). Please contact me if you would like to contribute to the project.


    As near as I can recall, I started writing the Songbook style sometime in 1990.  My first post to USENET regarding the macros occurred on 21 March, 1991; where I was trying to solve an early problem with the \Ch{}{} macro.  Of particular interest is the release labelled below as "Early Beta"; it contains all of the essential Songbook style formatting elements in 165 lines of code (including comments).

    Release History

    Official Release Dates
    (Code Freeze Dates)




    Early Beta 1991-04-05
    v1.0a 1992-06-25
    v2.1 1993-09-12
    v2.3 1994-01-01
    v2.4 1996-05-30
    v3.0 1998-01-01
    v3.1 1999-11-13
    v4.0pre2 2002-02-21
    v4.0 2002-04-25
    v4.1 2003-08-31
    v4.1a 2003-08-31
    v4.2 2006-10-13
    v4.3 2007-02-03

    Announced To
    USENET Date






    v2.1 1993-09-15
    v2.3 1994-01-23
    v2.4 1996-07-13
    v3.0 1998-05-18
    v4.0pre2 2002-02-23
    v4.0 2002-02-29
    v4.1 2003-09-02
    I no longer announce releases to USENET.

    ©Copyright 1996-2007, Christopher Rath
    Telephone: 613-824-4584
    Address: 1371 Major Rd., Ottawa, ON, Canada K1E 1H3
    Last updated: 2015/02/14 @ 21:34:00 ( )