4: Finishing up the engraved score step 4: Top & Bottom staff margins

  • Open the score “After work, late at night” – paginating
  • From the View menu, choose “Page Margins”:

page margins

When we talk about Top and Bottom staff margins, we are referring to the distance between the Page Margin (the dotted line around every page) and the top of the first staff and the lowest part of the bottom staff on every page.

Now that the piece is paginated, let’s have a look at the Top and Bottom Staff Margins. There should be plenty of space between the headers and the top staff and the footers and the bottom staff. However, when we go through our example score, we see that the footers are overlapping the bottom staves on most pages and that the headers, although not overlapping the top staff, could use some extra distance to create a better looking layout.

It’s always a good idea to start this step by resetting the space above and below the staves first, so we know for sure that the settings we are going to change are applied correctly.

  • Select the full score (CMD+a) and from the Layout menu, choose Reset space above staff/Reset space below staff and Optimise staff spacing:

reset staff spacings

The distance between the page margins and the upper and bottom staff is being set in the Staff Margins panel which can be found in the Layout/Document setup menu:

staff margins panel

The values set in this panel are applied every time you choose the Optimise Staff Spacing command from the Layout menu as show in the above screenshot. The section at the left side (38.1/12.7) determines the top and bottom staff margins on the first title page only, while the section at the right (12.7/7.6) determines the top and bottom staff margins distance for all the pages after the title page.

Here we see immediately why the footers are overlapping the bottom staves in the score, there is only 7 mm distance! Let’s increase this little by little until we find the distance that works. This is also the only way to find the best setting: setting a distance, checking the score and adjusting if needed. Every score is different and needs different numbers. Here is how I do this step:

1st page, top staff margins

Because of the title, subtitle and dedication text, there is the need for a lot of space between the top page margin and top staff. However this is how it looks right now:1st page top 1

It is possible to just drag the upper staff down with your mouse and because we attached the subtitle and dedication text to the upper staff, they will be dragged down as well. However, it’s better to enter these settings into Sibelius and let him do the work.

In the Staff Margins panel, let’s try out some distances for the Top staff page 1. Increase this distance to 50 and click OK:

above top of staff 2     1st page top 2

The title is still overlapping the other text, so we need to increase the Top staff number. Let’s try 65:

staff margins panel 65   1st page top correct

This was the magic number for this score! Now let’s have a look at the bottom staff margin on the same first page.

1st page, bottom staff margins

The footer is not overlapping the staff on page 1, but because it always looks better to have the same bottom staff/page margin distance in the whole score, let’s check the rest of the score as well. Now we see that almost every page has an overlapping footer/bottom staff. We can correct this the same way as we did with the Top Staff margin.

In the Staff Margins panel enter a value of 20 to start with. This seems to be the correct number, because after hitting the OK button, the bottom staff margin on page 1 looks like this:

footer 20footer 1st page corrected

After 1st page, bottom staff margins

Let’s try the same bottom staff margin value for the rest of the pages which we fill in the “after first page” section:

footer after 1st pageGoing through all the pages, the footer is not overlapping anywhere, so we found the correct value for the bottom staff margins for the whole score. All that is left to do is correcting the distance between the page margin and the top staff margin for all the pages that come after the first page.

After 1st page, Top staff margins

Let’s start with giving the same value as we gave to the bottom staff margin:

header after 1st page 20 header textafter 1st page 20

The header is no longer cramping against the top staff and we have the same distance above and below the staves on every page, which looks great.

Now, when you select the full score (CMD+a) and choose Optimise staff Spacing from the Layout menu, all the staves stay where they are.

That’s it for this step. In the next step, we will have a look at what I call Object Check, where we reposition incorrect placed and colliding objects.

For the final result, see Sibelius score “After work, Late at night”- Staff Margins.

Have a great day!


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