Ledger lines are short horizontal lines that are written above or below the staff. They indicate the exact pitches of notes that are not in the staff. Ledger lines are the same distance from the staff as the staff lines are from each other. When writing a note on a ledger line, make sure that the note is centered on the line.
The first note above the staff that requires a ledger line:
The first note below the staff that requires a ledger line:
Notes above the staff can also occur on top of a ledger line:
Notes below the staff can occur below a ledger line:
There can be many ledger lines above or below the staff:
Notes that sit on top of a ledger line above the staff do not require an extra ledger line. Avoid writing another ledger line, as shown below. The same rule applies to notes below the staff as well.
The notes just above and just below the staff do not require ledger lines:
Make sure that the ledger line extends slightly beyond the notehead, but not so far that it interferes with the surrounding notes.
The ledger line should be the same distance from the staff as all of the staff lines are from each other. In the example below, the ledger lines on the left are too close to the staff. They should be written like the ledger lines on the right.
In the example below, the ledger lines on the left are too far from the staff. They should be written like the ledger lines on the right.
Remember to follow the rules for the proper placement and size for drawing noteheads, too.
Besides blank staff paper, this site includes instructions on how to draw music notes and symbols. You can learn how to draw notes, ledger lines, clefs, rests, note values, accidentals, time signatures, and other musical symbols.