Finishing up the engraved main score. Course overview


Finishing up an engraved score in Sibelius 6

Starting today, I will create regular posts, explaining how I take an engraved score and it parts and make it publishing/printer ready. I will explain how to prepare and export a midi file from the main score that can be used in your Digital Audio Workstation. We will take a look under the hood to see how and why Sibelius does what it does and how we can adjust these settings to your own wishes.

This course is developed on a Mac, therefore the screenshots and video’s you will see are showing a Mac environment. The workflow however will be exactly the same when working under Windows.

The course is split up into three parts:

Part one: in which we make the main score print/publishing ready.

  1. Creating the publisher’s house style.
  2. Importing the publisher’s House Style.
  3. Using wildcards.
  4. Text: Naming and positioning the title, subtitle, instrument name, lyricist name, composer name, footer and header according to the publisher’s wishes.
  5. Cue notes: give the solo player some visual hints.
  6. Paginating: creating the pages layout and page turns.
  7. Adjusting the top & bottom staff margins.
  8. Object Check: reposition incorrect placed and colliding objects.
  9. Staff spacing: create an equal distance between the staves.
  10. Proof reading: compare the engraving note by note with the source score to be sure that the engraving is done correctly.
  11. Final Check, making the last and mostly subtle adjustments.
  • Part two: in which we make sure that the main score is playing back correctly and exporting it as a midi file which you can open in your DAW.
  • Part three: in which we extract the instrument parts from the main score and make them print/publishing ready.

We will work on a score from a fictional publisher named “Publishing Anonymous”. If you want to follow along with the files used in this course, you can download them here:

Finishing up the engraved score, Object Check part 5: tuplets

Sibelius 6 Tip: Object Check part 5 – tuplets

Working with tuplets in Sibelius looks very complicated and although I will give a lot of information about them in this chapter, creating them is very easy and Sibelius will take care of everything!

Creating tuplets
To create a tuplet, first create the first note in a value that you want to see the tuplet written in and use CMD+ (2 till 9) to create the tuplet you need. For example to create this tuplet:

Create the first c as normal 8th note, then use the key combination CMD+3 and notate the b and c. To create tuplets higher than a nonuplet (because your keyboard only has the number-keys 1 till 9), select the first note and from the menu choose Create/Tuplet:

Fill in the amount of notes in the tuplet you want and hit OK. There are some choices in this dialog window, but you can leave them as they are. To delete a tuplet, select the number and hit delete. As with most other objects, you can flip a tuplet to the other side of the staff with the Edit/Flip command, move them around and stretch or narrow the brackets by mouse-dragging and with the arrow keys.

The above information is all you need to work with tuplets in Sibelius, but if you want to know more about settings and giving the tuplets your own look, read on…

Engraving Rules
Sibelius positions tuplets according to the settings in /House Style/Engraving Rules/Tuplets:

The 1st option “Position tuplets as if all notes are beamed together”,  is Sibelius’ default setting and will place the tuplets according to traditional engraving rules. This setting is recommended by the Sibelius Reference.

The 2nd option, “Position tuplets relative to first note” gives you the freedom to adjust the way Sibelius displays the tuplets:

Position with bracket



Head End: 

Stem End: 


Position without bracket



Head End: 

Stem End: 

Vertical Distance from Notes
Here you can find the option “Avoid Staff”, and will place the tuplets inside or outside the staff:

Outside staff:

Inside staff:

Always above on vocal staves
This checkbox  should always be checked to avoid clashing tuplets with the lyrics under the staff:

Number Angle
Rotate single digits is better left unchecked, otherwise the number could be difficult to read:

Checked:     Unchecked: 

Auto bracket

When this option is checked AND when in the Properties window the tuplet in the score is defined as Auto Bracket…

any tuplet that is connected by a secondary beam will get a hidden bracket.

Auto bracket checked: 

Auto bracket un-checked:  

Vertical distance from Notes

Here you can set the distance between the tuplet and the stem or note head.  Experiment around with the values if you like and see what the results are.

Personally I like my tuplets a little closer, so to avoid dragging them, I decrease the value to 0.3 in the first two fields:

In the next field, Horizontal Distance from the Note, you can set the distance between the left and right bracket sides and the notes:

All the values are set to 0 to create a very tight placements, but if you want you can change them to your own liking:

will result in this:

(mmm, maybe it’s better to stick with the defaults here…)

Adjust to publisher’s wishes
Every publisher has their own House Style, and they could ask you for example to have tuplets with all notes (or with a rest in the middle) to be notated without a bracket and with the number on the Stem-End:

Also, when a tuplet is incomplete they would like it always to have a bracket at the Head-End:

Plus, the bracket and number should never be placed on the staff, but alway able or below it. To let Sibelius do this, choose these settings:

“Ah, yes, and one more thing. Would it be possible to notate the bracket line in the same angle as the beam of the note group?”

Luckily, this is the default setting in Sibelius 6. However, you can also have the line placed horizontally. To do this, go to House style/Edit Lines/Staff Lines/:

Now the bracket will always placed horizontally:

This can however give problems with the magnetic layout options for the bracket, so it’s actually better to give the bracket the same angle as the beam.

Properties window: Notes/Tuplet
When you open the Properties Window and go to the Note panel at the bottom, there is a section titled Tuplet:

Here you can choose how the tuplet should be displayed. In the left menu you can choose how the value should be displayed:

In the right menu you can choose how the bracket should be displayed:

Auto Bracket works in combination with the Auto Bracket setting in Engraving Rules/Tuplets. See above for more information.

To avoid cluttering, when a pattern of tuplets is made clear, hide them and write simile:

And always try to place the tuplet and fingerings on opposite side of the staff to avoid confusing:

That’s the story about tuplets, to see everything in action have a look at the video below:

best wishes,


my homepage:

Finishing up the engraved score, Object Check part 3: note spacing

This step should be done after having paginated and locked the score. The dynamics and slurs were done in the 2 previous steps. The goal of this step is simple: make the notation readable and the way to do this is by moving the notes left and right or widening or narrowing a full bar.

Here is my workflow when doing this note spacing step:
– Lock the full score.
– Reset Note Spacing on the full score.
– Set the zoom level to about 150% and from the start, check every bar on readability, using the CMD+arrow keys to widen or narrowing a full bar, or to move single notes and other objects left and right.

Here are some examples of musical elements that need to be corrected. Most of them are obvious, but it takes some times before you get an eye for what is wrong:

Accidentals touching the previous bar-line:

Accidentals too close to a previous note or rest:

Leger lines touching each other:

Grace notes too far away from their main note:

Sometimes I change the notation itself to correct issues, for example leger line touching can be avoided by simply changing the clef:


Or using an 8va line:

Note Spacing Rules
Let’s have a look at how Sibelius decides how to space the notes in a score.
Open the Note Spacing Rule window in the House Style/Note Spacing Rule menu:

These settings are applied every time you use the command Reset Note Spacing from the Layout menu. In general I leave this alone, but there are two settings that I like to adjust in the Minimum Space section:

Here are Sibelius’ default settings:

Around leger lines

And here are my settings:

Making these 2 simple changes avoids us from correcting them as I mentioned in my workflow above! I will for sure keep on adjusting and fine-tuning this window while engraving music, and I always take care to notated the settings in my favourite word processor and update the House Style I created earlier. I suggest to play around with these settings by changing them and doing a Reset Note Spacing on your score to understand what it does.

With all of this said, have a look at the video below to see everything in action.

warm wishes