In this tutorial I’ll show the workflow I use to create a four hands piano score, and optionally, how to export a midi/audio reference.

Piano music for four hands has in general the lower part (Secondo) notated on the left hand pages, and the higher part (Primo) notated on the right hand pages. This way, the two players can easily read their own parts while following the other player’s part.

Notation template

In this example I will create a basic template with  4 pages having 5 systems each, in which every system has 4 bars, what would be 20 bars on a page and a total of 80 bars on 4 pages. Later when you to enter the music, you can always add or delete bars on a page.

  • Start by creating a normal piano solo score.
  • Add enough bars to get a total of 80 bars from the Create/Bar/other menu:


  • Create a system break after every 4 bars.
  • Select bars 1-20 on page one and lock it with the Lock Format command from the Layout/Format menu:


Do the same for bars 21-40 on page two, bars 41-60 on page three and bars 61-80 on page four. Or to do all the above steps at once, choose the Make Layout Uniform plugin from the Plug-in menu…


… and fill in the amount of bars and systems:


Title pages

The Secondo and Primo parts need both a title page with the same staff margin settings. This can be done the regular way in the Layout/Document Setup window. In the screenshot below, both 1st page and After first page have the same top and bottom staff margin values (shown in mm):


Special Page Break

To set the staff margins for the pages after the 2nd title page, select the right bar-line from the last bar on page 2 and open Special Page Break from the Layout/Break menu:



Select the New Margins check-box to open the Margins window. In the Staff Margins panel for this score I choose 18 mm for the top and bottom staff margins for the rest of the score:


You can see where a special page-break is used by turning on the Layout Marks in the view menu:

A normal page break:  avh_08  A special page break: avh_09

Gap before bar

The 1st bar in a score doesn’t snap again the left page margin, but has some distance from it. This can be set by selecting the 1st bar and from the Properties window/Bars, set the distance you like (this distance is set in spaces). Do this on the title page for the Secondo and the Primo part:


Bar numbers

The bar numbers in the Primo part (right hand pages) must always reflect the bar numbers in the Secondo part (left hand pages), you can change them by double clicking on a bar number which will bring up the Bar Number Change dialogue:


It’s custom that the 1st bar number is always hidden, which you can do by right clicking the bar number and choosing Hide, from the Hide or Show menu:


Time signature

When creating the time signature for Piano Primo, keep “Allow cautionary” unchecked so it doesn’t show up on the previous page:


Title, subtitle etc…

Copy and paste the title text etc. from the Secondo to the Primo part:


Part names

To show the part name at the start of the score for the Secondo part, go to the House Styles menu/Engraving Rules/Instruments, and in the Instrument Names tab, choose Full to be displayed At start.

To show the part name at the start of the score for the Primo part, choose Full from the At new Section menu and after that, create a section break in the last bar on page 1:


Select the last bar on page 1 and in the properties/Bar window, check the Section End box:


Right now, both parts are named Piano Secondo, however the second part must be named Piano Primo. Renaming the text will not help; both part names will stay the same because it’s the same Instrument. The solution here is to create an instrument change in the first bar of the Piano Primo part.

From the Create menu, choose Other/Instrument Change…


…choose piano as instrument and click in bar 1 in the Piano Primo part:

Instrument change

Hide the newly created instrument name above the staff and rename the parts:


The part names (primo and secondo) at the top of the pages are created with a normal Header Text style. From the Create menu, choose Text/Other System Text/Header:



Because the Secondo part plays mostly in the lower register and the Primo part in the higher, let’s give them their correct clefs:


Final result…


Save as template

Saving the score as a template is done under the File/Export/Manuscript Paper menu:

save as template

To use this template when starting a new score, choose New from the file menu and choose the template in the Manuscript Paper menu:

open ,anuscripts

Engraving the score…

While engraving the music in the score, avoid that the template layout changes and accidentally deletes the special page breaks. Instead, add and delete bars somewhere in the middle of the pages and leave the 1st and last bar on every page as they are.

  • To add bars, choose Other from the menu Create/bar:


  • To delete bars, hold down the CMD key, select a bar, add the SHIFT key, click the last bar. Hit delete.

After the music is engraved…

Aligning the staves on left- and right-hand pages

It’s very important that the staves on the left- and righthand pages are aligned vertically, this will make it easier for the players to follow each other’s parts:

  • Select a left-hand and a righthand page and from the Layout menu choose Align Staves:


  • Make the selections as show in the screenshot below and hit OK:


To align text and other kind of objects on the left- and right pages, select these object and use the Align in a Row command from the Layout menu.

Midi/audio export template

Exporting this score as midi or audio is a problem because the parts are not notated above each other but on two separate pages, making the two piano parts being played after each other instead of at the same time.

The workaround for this is to create a second score for midi/audio export only where the two piano parts are notated on the same page, and copy/paste the music from the notation layout into this second score.  After that it’s easy to export the midi/audio files.

Creating this midi/audio export template is very simple, because how it looks on the page doesn’t matter that much:

  • Start a new piano solo score and from the Create/Instrument menu, add a second piano:


  • To avoid making mistakes while copying and pasting the music, make sure Instrument Names is turned on in House Style/Engraving Rules/Instruments:


  • Change the clefs so that the Primo part has treble clefs for both staves and the Secondo part has bass clefs for both staves. Also, give the parts their correct part names so the exported midi file will show them after importing the midi file in your DAW:

rename parts for midi

  • Copy and paste the music from the Notation version into this template. Be careful not to forget special bar-lines, key- and time signatures.
  • Final step: exporting the score. In the file/export menu choose audio or midi:


  • The imported midi file in your DAW:


have a great day!


Finishing up the engraved score, Object Check: dynamics

  • Open the score “After work, late at night” – Staff Margins

  From the View menu, check “Attachment Lines”:

attachements lines

My personal keyboard shortcuts for dynamics used in the course:

Filter Hairpins: F9

Filter Text: F10

Filter Dynamics: F11

Magnetic Layout on: CMD+,

Magnetic Layout off: CMD+.

In this step called Object Check, you are going to check the score from start to finish and see if the following objects need to be corrected:

1. Dynamics, 2. slurs, 3. notes, 4. fingerings and 5. tuplets.

If this is the first time you check a score this way, it’s a good idea to check only one object at the time, what would mean that you have to go through the score five times. After having done this with a couple of scores though, you can check all the objects at the same time. Let’s start with dynamics.

The dynamic object includes both the expression text:

expression text

and the hairpin:


There are three rules to keep in mind when working with dynamics:

1. In instrumental scores they are always placed below the staff and in vocal scores they are always placed above the staff (to avoid collisions with the lyrics below the staff). This includes the grand staff (used for keyboard instruments):

dynamics placement example

There are some exceptions on this rule: when two parts share a staff and have different dynamics, you need to place the dynamics for the upper voice above the staff, for the lower voice below the staff. Also, for the grand staff, when the left hand staff has its own dynamics, place those dynamics below that staff. We don’t have these exceptions in our example score though, so we don’t need to worry about these things.

2. Within a single system, align the dynamics horizontally as much as possible. This will not always possible because of some notes being higher or lower in pitch than the other notes, those single dynamic objects will have to stand on their own horizontal distance from the staff:

centred dynamics

3. In a grand staff (keyboard music), centre the dynamics between the staves as much as possible, except when only one hand is playing, that dynamic object should be placed closer to that hand’s part: see screenshot above. To align dynamics within a system, you have to select them first. There are a couple of ways to do this.

Selecting the dynamics

1. Using your mouse. If you want to select more than one object, keep down the CMD-key while clicking the objects.

2. Double-clicking the staff that you want to edit, this will select the whole system and from the Edit/Filter menu, choose Dynamics. This will select both the Expression Text and the Hairpins:

selecting dynamics

3. Double-clicking the staff that you want to edit, and from the Plug-in menu, choose the Filter Text plugin:

filter txt

This plugin will display every text style that is used in the selected bars which works faster than using the standard Edit/Filter menu plugins. Choose Expression and click the Select button:


This plugin will only select the Expression Text and NOT the hairpins. To select the hairpins within a system, double click the staff that you want to edit, and from the Edit/Filter menu, choose Hairpins:

hairpins 2

Personally I like to align expression text and hairpins separately, because they do not line up nicely when done at once. I use therefore the 3rd option.

Instead choosing the hairpin filter from the menu, I assigned it to one of the function-keys on my keyboard. To see how this is done, please see the Pagination and Page Turns step. The Filter Text plugin, if installed as described at the beginning of this course, can be found here:

shrtcut 1

Moving the dynamics

After making the selection, use the arrow keys to move them vertically up and down and use the Align in a Row command from the Layout menu to align them horizontally:

align in a row

Also here I use the keyboard shortcut instead to increase work speed: SHIFT+CMD+r (remember “r” for “row”).

Sibelius will try to keep them horizontal aligned within the system because of the Magnetic Layout option (that’s why they are jumping while you move them). This option can do a good job, but sometimes it’s a little bit in the way. I tend most of the time to turn it of while aligning the expression text objects. For the hairpins I leave the magnetic Layout on, because the magnetic layout also avoids them to overlap objects horizontally, correcting the length from every single hairpin by hand can be very time-consuming. Magnetic Layout can be turned off from a selection in the Edit/Magnetic Layout menu:

Magn layout on off

Standard, there are no keyboard shortcuts assigned to the magnetic layout, but to be able to work fast and avoid using the menus, I assigned them as shown above.

One extra step I take sometimes when the dynamic looks very out of place, is using Reset Position from the Layout menu:

reset position

This will place the object back to the original default position as set in Sibelius. Expression text is always placed slightly before the notehead whenever possible. As you can see, I assigned the F13 key to this command for faster workflow. However, this will only work if the object is still connected to the correct note in the score with an attachment line which normally is the case if the dynamic was created the correct way. The attachment line is the grey dotted line in the screenshot below:

pp placement

You could also have a situation like this:

pp placement 2

Using the Reset Position command wouldn’t help here, you will have to drag the object with the mouse instead to its correct place.

Whenever you select a hairpin, Sibelius shows a centred dote line which is a great help to get them horizontally aligned with the expression text. This line  will only show up show up with the Magnetic Layout option is turned on:

dotted line

Here are the steps I take to align the dynamics in a score, always working on one system at a time. The keyboard shortcuts are my personal ones:

  • Double click a staff
  • Select expression text with Filter Text (F10)
  • Turn off magnetic layout (CMD+.)
  • Use Reset Position (F13)
  • Align them horizontally with Align in a Row (SHIFT+CMD+r)
  • Using the arrow keys to move them vertically to the best place possible.
  • Double click a staff
  • Select Hairpins with the Hairpin Filter (F9)
  • Align horizontally with the Align in a Row command
  • With the hairpins still selected, using the arrow keyboard keys to align them horizontally with the expression text.
  • Adjust the length of the hairpins with mouse dragging.

Of course there are always situations in which you will do things different or leave steps out, practice will teach you this. For example, if there is only a single expression text in a system, you will use your mouse to select it and the arrow keys to move it and not the Align in a Row command. Or sometimes you don’t need to use the Align in a Row command because the objects are already aligned correctly.

Now let’s have a look at the example score

In the first system, bar 1-4, the expression text objects are horizontally aligned correctly, but not centred between the staves of the grand staff. Also, they seem to be too much to the left of the notes they belong too. The hairpins are aligned horizontally correct as well, but are too short, we will have to drag them to their correct length. Here is how I correct this:

  • Double click the piano right hand staff
  • Select expression text with Filter Text (F10)
  • Turn off magnetic layout (CMD+.)
  • Use Reset Position (F13) – the text is now placed correctly under the notes.
  • Using the arrow keys to move them centred between the staves.
  • Double click the piano right hand staff
  • Select Hairpins with the Hairpin Filter (F9)
  • Using the arrow keyboard keys to align them horizontally with the expression text.
  • Adjust the length of the hairpins with mouse dragging.

From this point there could still be need to fine-tune the dynamics as a whole in this system which you can do by double click the right hand staff and choosing Dynamics from the Edit/Filter menu. Use the arrow keys to drag everything up or down:

dynamics filter

As you can see in the screenshot above, I assigned this filter to the F11 key on my keyboard.

Here is the first system again, now with corrected dynamics:

corrected system

As you can see, I decided to lower the last two bars’ dynamics. Keeping them at the same height as the first bars would place them too close to the right hand slurs, but still the total image looks good what is the most important. As always, working on the layout of a score is an art and there are moments that rules have to be broken. The hairpins are now at the correct length and centred horizontally with the expression text.

Although the dynamics are pretty much done with this step, the final tweaks on the full score will be done in the step 8, where we make the last and mostly subtle adjustments on the objects that still need this, including dynamics.

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

That’s it for this step. In the next step, we will have a look at the slurs.

Have a great day!


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!


Finishing up the engraved score step 3: Pagination and Page Turns

With pagination we mean dividing the music on the pages in a way that the music is easy readable, looks good on paper and where the last bar on every page, if possible, has a rest so the player has a free hand to turn the page, called a Page Turn.


When working on the pagination it’s a good idea to use the shortcut keys on your keyboard instead of choosing the commands from the menu, this will speed up the work immensely. You will work with the following commands from the Layout/Break and Layout/Format menu:


System Break: return-key

Page break: CMD+return-key


Make into System: SHIFT+ALT+m

Make into Page: SHIFT+ALT+CMD+m

Lock:  SHIFT+CMD+l

Unlock:  SHIFT+CMD+u

You could consider creating shorter keyboard shortcuts. For example, I assigned the Format commands to a single function key. You can change the key assignments in Preferences/Menus and Shortcuts/Layout:


Creating the perfect pagination is an art and it’s something that you can learn only by working on a lot of scores. Also, paginating is not something you start on page one and will be finished with when reaching the last page, you will go back and forth a lot to find the best balance between readability, a good-looking score and page turns.

  • Open the score “After work, late at night” – c

Select the full score (CMD+a) and choose from the Layout menu: Unlock Format, so we can be sure that the score is fully unlocked and my score is the same as yours.

First impression

Have a look at all the pages to get a first impression. Are there systems that have too many bars cramping the notes together? Or are there systems that could have more bars because the notes are too widely spaced? Especially when there are lyrics in a score, you can get a good idea what to do. It’s important that lyrics are not too close making it impossible to see where new syllables/words starts.

Here are my first impressions and thoughts:

  • Page 1/system 1: feels cramped, I will probably make a system break at the beginning of bar 5.
  • Page 1/system 2: feels too loose and could use an extra bar. Great, that would be solved by pushing that bar 5 from the 1st system.
  • Page 2/system 1: looks good.
  • Page 2/system 2: the text feels a little cramped, but it’s still good readable. Also, the full vocal phrase is in this system what is always a good thing to go for. It creates a better looking layout and the players have a rest, giving them time to turn the page. I will probably leave this system in tact.
  • Page 3/system 1 and 2: Looks good. Text is readable and the 16th violin notes in bar 25 are still readable.
  • Page 4/system 1:  feels cramped, I will probably make a system break at the beginning of bar 31.
  • Page 4/system 2: too widely spaced. Pushing that last bar in the previous system will fix this.
  • Page 5/system 1: Feels too widely spaced, so an option would be to pull back the 1st bar in the 2nd system. However, there are a lot of notes in that bar so probably that is not going to work. System 1 will become too cramped and the lyrics unreadable.
  • Page 5/system 2: Same problem as with the system above. But also, it’s nog adoption to pull the 1st bar of the next system into this system: too many notes.
  • Page 6/system 1: The lyrics are readable, but that last bar would look better in the next system which does look too widely spaced. Here I probably will create a system break  at the beginning of bar 44.
  • Page 7 has only 1 system what always should be avoided. A single system on the last page doesn’t look good, so we will have to move bars and systems around until there are two systems on the last page.

OK, that was the first impression. Now let’s go back to page one and actually start making those changes.

  • Starting the pagination

Here is how I start a pagination:

Step One: creating system breaks at special bar-lines

Go through the score from the start and create a system break at double bar-lines, repeat bar-lines and key signature changes where possible, using the System Break command from the Layout/Break menu (return-key). Use you common sense at all times though. For example, in a score that has a key signature change at every bar it would not make sense to create a system break at every bar. Our score doesn’t have double bar-lines, repeat bar-lines or key signature changes, so we can skip this step.

Step Two: “pushing” and “pulling” bars

From the start of the score and where possible leaving the layout that you created above intact, check for readability and adjust the amount of bars per system by “pushing” and “pulling” bars between systems (see explanation below). 

Step Three: Recheck divided bars/systems

After finishing the above step, go over the full score again and see if there are still systems that could be divided better. Maybe that last bar of the 1st system would look better on the 2nd system? Try things out and undo them again if you don’t like the change. It’s important at this point that the full score is Locked, which should be done if you followed the paginating as I described below.

While re-dividing the bars, keep the following in mind:

  • Try to have the same amount of bars on each system within that page.
  • Try to create Page Turns (more important in parts and solo scores than in orchestral scores), however always give first priority to a good looking score.
  • Try to keep the same amount of staves on every page.
  • The last page of the score should be a fully filled page, and if possible, having the same amount of staves as the previous pages.
  • One last thing to keep in mind (which probably will feel the opposite from everything mentioned above): try to keep the amount of pages to a minimum to avoid turning the pages every 10 seconds and having to print out a lot of pages. As sayed earlier, paginating is an art AND a balancing act between the above mentioned points.

Pushing bars to the next system

If the notes look too tight within a system, start with “pushing” the last bar to the next system and see if this looks better. If the system still looks to cramped, undo this (CMD+z) and push the two last bars to the next system. Play around like this until you are happy with the results. The “pushing” of the bars is done by selecting the bar-line before the bar you want to push and hitting the return-key. This will create a system-break.

After creating a System-break, you could end up with something like this:

locked bar

This happens because this single bar has been locked earlier, Sibelius will therefore leave it as it is. To unlock it again, select it and use the Unlock command SHIFT+CMD+u or choose Unlock Format from the Layout/Format menu.

Pulling bars back to a previous system

If a system is too widely spaced and would look better with more bars, you have to do the opposite from “pushing”. This time you will “pull back” bars into a previous system. Select all the bars you want to include in a system and use the Make into System command from the Layout/Format menu (SHIFT+ALT+m). If it doesn’t look better, undo this (CMD+z) and pull back more or less bars. Play around like this until you are happy with the results.

Paginating “After work, late at night”

Note! After having paginated a page and you are happy with how the page looks, select the bars on this page and lock them (SHIFT+CMD+l). Otherwise Sibelius will change them while you work on other pages in an attempt to create a good pagination what not always would be your choice.

Step One: creating system breaks at special bar-lines

In our score there are no special bar-lines used, so we skip this step.

Step Two: “pushing” and “pulling” bars.

Page 1: I decide to push bar 5 to the next system, selecting the bar line before bar 5 and hitting return. Both systems look great now. Sibelius pushed bar 10 to page 2 automatically to avoid too cramped bars/systems on page 1. So while we are doing our job, Sibelius is supporting us in doing his. However, if you don’t like his suggestions you can easily undo this with the “pushing/pulling” bars options.

Lock page 1

Page 2: starts with bar 9. Both systems look good and the lyrics are spread out nicely. System 1 has 5 bars, while system 2 has only 4, but because bar 10 is a very small one I leave it like this.

Lock page 2

Page 3: Both systems look good even with system 1 having 5 bars and system 2 only 3. This is because bar 25 has a larger time signature (4/4) than the previous bar (3/4) AND has much more notes, creating this way a larger single bar.

Lock page 3

Page 4: Bar 28 looks cramped so I decide to push it to the next system. System 2 has 5 bars which looks a little cramped in the first 3 bars. Plus bar 31 ends with a rest which would make a great Page Turner, so I give a page break at bar 32 (CMD+return-key).

Lock page 4

Page 5: Both systems look good, the violin eight notes are spaced nicely and the soprano lyrics are readable.

Lock page 5

Page 6: System 1 starts with bar 40 and looks good even with only 2 bars because of the 16th tuplets in the violin part. I leave it this way. System 2 has 3 bars, the last bar ending with a rest which makes a great Page Turner. These two systems do look a little too widely spaced, but adding a bar to the 2nd system would cramp the violin 16th notes in bar 42. I give a page break at bar 44.

Lock page 6

Page 7: Even though this last page feels too widely spaced, it has two systems which is good being the last page. Also, in the first system, the lyrics are good readable. I would like to add a bar to the last system though to cramp the notes a little more together, but we are out of bars so I leave it as it is.

Lock page 7

Step Three: Recheck divided bars

In this 3rd step I zoom out until I can see one or even better two full pages, and go through the score from the start, checking if there are still bars left that could be pushed/pulled to another system to create an ever better layout.

That’s it for this step. In the next step, we will have a look at top and bottom staff margins.

For the final result, see Sibelius score “After work, Late at night”- Paginating which can be found here:  https://app.box.com/s/06zkfis82cb7u7dp6xaclbpb0xwezdal

Have a great day!


Finishing up the engraved score step 2: Cue Notes

When there are too many bars in a row with rests, it’s easy for a player to become lost. Therefor as a rule, when there are more than four bars of rests in a part, you should create cue notes.

In our score example, the highest amount of bars with rests that the violin has is 3 which will not be a problem for the violin player. He will be able to keep count during those 3 bars (bars 28-30). However when we look at the soprano part we see that bars 1-11 (11 bars) and bars 28-35 (8 bars) have rests. In this course we are going to create a separate part for the violin and the soprano, so we need to create cue notes in the soprano part. We could also decide not to create a separate soprano part, in that case the singer could follow the other parts in the score. A solo singer part however means fewer pages to print and to turn. 

Cue notes are notes taken from one of the other parts in the main score, mostly the melody. To create cue notes, follow the steps below.

  • Select the full score and choose from the menu Plug-ins/Other menu/ Suggest Cue Locations:

suggest cue locationsThis will open the Suggest Cue Locations window:

suggest cue locations dialogue

  • In the “Suggest cue locations after” field, set the amount of bars to 4. In the “Mark cue locations in:” section, check the Score as Text box. This will place a text in the score after every 4 bars of rests. Hit OK.

Sibelius gives us three suggestions to create cue notes:

cue locations suggestions

1. In the soprano part: bar 11, telling us that there are 10 bars of rest before the singer has to start:

bar 11 cue Suggestion

2. In the violin part: bar 31, telling as that there are 4 bars of rest before the player has to start:

bar 31 cue Suggestion

However, Sibelius is counting bar 31 as well which makes it in fact only 3 bars of rest. We can therefore ignore this suggestion and delete this text.

3. In the soprano part: bar 36, telling us that there are 9 bars of rest before the singer has to start:

bar 36 cue Suggestion

  • In the suggested bars, look for a melody in another part that can be easily recognised by the solo player and make it about 4 bars long, give and take a bar. Try to find a full phrase, which is more musically than the last part of a phrase and copy these notes.

In our example we have a useable phrase from the last note of bar 6 up to bar 10 in the violin part:

first Cue suggestion

However, let’s select the full bar 6 as well so we don’t run into paste problems. We can turn those 2 first notes in bar 6 in rests easily after the paste job.

  • In the soprano part, select bars 6 till 10 and from the Edit menu, choose Paste as Cue:

paste as cue

The result are hidden notes that will only show up in the soprano part which we will create later in this course. Turning on the Hidden Objects in the view menu shows us this:

Hidden cue notes

Above the soprano part is the instrument name from which the Cue is taken, in this case the violin, and Sibelius placed the word “Play” at the moment the soprano has to start singing. You could change this into “solo” or delete it. To get a nice single phrase only, I would suggest to change the first two notes in bar 6 into rests. Don’t forget the delete the Cue suggestion text from the score after you made the Cue.

Now create the cue notes the same way for the other Cue Location suggestion in the soprano part bar 36. Using bar 31- 35 from the violin part looks like a good choice to use for the cue notes.


  • If you make changes in the main score on the notes that were used as cue notes after creating the cues, run the Check Cues plug-in from the Plug-in/Proof-reading menu to find and correct them:

check cue plugin 1 

check cue plugin 2

  • Be careful that you not accidentally overwrite the first notes in the part after the pasted cue-notes, what can easily happen when the part starts with rests or an up-beat note:

note 3

  • Sometimes you will need to make corrections after creating the cue. In the example below you will have to hide the 2nd voice rest:

note 4

  • Another issue is that the bar-rests can be on the wrong staff line and no matter what you try, they will not go on their correct usual place:

note 5

You can fix this by swapping voice 1 and 2:

voice swap

For the final result, see Sibelius score “After work, Late at night”-c which can be found here:  https://app.box.com/s/04kvy40xqgloifjjdtuaoj6yims8zil6

In the next step, we will have a look at paginating where we create good readable pages layout and page turns.

Have a great day!


Finishing up the engraved score: House styles part 5

1e: Exporting and importing the house style

Now we have the score layout the way the publisher wants it, we can export it as a house style. The house style file includes the text style settings and their positions in the score. Importing this house style in another engraved score will redesign and reposition all the text.

Open Sibelius score 1.3, and from the House Style menu, choose Export House Style…export house style

…which will open the Export House Style window where you can give your House Style a name. I always start the name with the publisher followed by the instruments in the score:

export house style window

Hit OK and close the score.

Now let’s import the House Style in the score that is already engraved but doesn’t have the correct text styles set yet. Open the Sibelius file “After work, late at night” which can be downloaded here…


…and from the House Style menu, choose Import House Style:

import house style menu

This will open the Import House Style window:

import house style panel

In the left text panel, select the house style that you exported earlier, leave the Import Options as they are. and hit OK.

All the text should now have the correct settings, however it’s always a good idea to double-check if the text styles that were used in the score had indeed the correct styles assigned. This can be done in the Properties window which can be found in the Window menu:

properties menu

The text tab in the Properties window shows the text style that was assigned to the text objects in the score, for example if you would select the title in the score, you would see this:

properties - text tab

Check all the other text objects and re-assign the text style if needed, which can be done by choosing it from the drop down menu, so the House Style setting will be applied correctly.

Another issue that sometimes happens is that Sibelius does not reset the design and position correctly after having imported a House Style. I like to be sure the House Style is assigned correctly, so at this point I select all the text objects one by one, keeping the CMD-key down and select from the Layout menu: Reset Position and Reset Design.

Manual text entre versus Score info/wildcards

As mentioned earlier, instead of using the Score info window and wildcards method, you can also type the text directly in the score. The way this is done is by choosing the desired text style from the menu Create/Text/, clicking in the score and start typing. This is for sure faster than the method I described. However the score info/wildcards method will ensure you that all the text is formatted correctly and is therefore my favourite way of working, especially when starting a new engraving in an earlier prepared template.

It’s possible that your publisher will send you engraved scores in which the engraver typed the text directly into the score and therefore some text could be missing or is not formatted correctly. It’s your job to double-check these things.

In our example, the “After work, late at night” score, the Header after 1st page appears to be formatted wrongly. It is formatted as Title – Composer, while it should be Composer – title – instrumentation:

after work header wrong

We can correct this by double clicking in the header text and adding the missing text:

after work header corrected

For the final result, see Sibelius score “After work, Late at night”-b which can be found here:  https://app.box.com/s/xhee6vjul2cig130725619go7avccjp0

In the next step, we will have a look at Cue notes.

Have a great day!


Finishing up the engraved score: House styles part 4

1d: Adjusting the text format and position

Now the text is placed in the score, all we need to do is to give it the correct format and position according to the publisher’s wishes. Here is how it looks like right now:

score result after wildcards placementsfooter score result after wildcards placements

Here is the list with the publisher’s formats:

House style for publishing anonymous

Title: Raleigh, bold, 30. 12 mm from top page margin.

Subtitle(s) and instrument in the score: Raleigh, 14. Position freely under the title.

Dedication: Times New Roman, 12 – Italic. Position freely under the subtitle.

Lyricist, arranger or editor: Raleigh, 11 Italic. 

  • Horizontal position: right page margin snapped.
  • Default positions, vertical distance to staff: 6

Composer name: Raleigh, 11 Italic

  • Horizontal position: right page margin snapped
  • Default positions: vertical positions relative to staff: 9
  • Tempo text: Raleigh, 12, bold

Copyright: Footer inside edge: Raleigh, 9.5

© Copyright 2013 by Publishing Anonymous, Worldwide

Header after 1st page: Raleigh, 11.6

Composer – title – instrumentation

Sometimes, the changes we are going to make are not always showing correctly in the score. To be sure that changes are being applied after every change, select the adjusted text and from the Layout menu, choose Reset Position and after that Reset Design:


Looking at the publisher’s house style list above we can see that the main used font is Raleigh. We can assign the main font in House-style/Edit all fonts:

edit all fonts

In the window that opens, choose Raleigh from the Main Text Font menu…

edit all fonts 2

And click OK. All the text in the score has now changed to the Raleigh type, exactly how our publisher wants to have it.

To assign the correct size to a text style, first select a text in the score, let’s do this with the Title text, and then from the House Style menu, open Edit Text Styles:

edit text styles

In the Edit Text Styles window that opens, the Title style will already be selected. Click the Edit button:

edit text styles 2

Title size

In the General tab that opens, fill in the title’s format: Raleigh, bold, 30. The size values must be filled in the Score/absolute box. Check the Keep Absolute check box to be sure that the text will always be the size that you fill in. When not selected, the text size will be calculated according to the staff size, meaning that if you would change the staff size, the text size will also be changed and that is not what we want.

title size

Title position

To set the title text 12 mm from top page margin, click the Vertical Position tab. Here we can let Sibelius place the text at the top or bottom of the page and at which distance from those page margins in mm. Here is how it looks like for our publisher:

title position

The values must be filled in the Score box, you can ignore the Parts box for now. Repeat the above steps for the subtitle, dedication and tempo text.

Outside Edge Footers

According to the publisher’s wish-list, the Copyright text must be placed as footer outside edge, meaning at the bottom outside of the page. Right now though the text is centred, but this is easy to change.

With the copyright text selected, open the Edit Text styles windows, click the Edit button and set the absolute size to 9.5. The position change we have to make from centred to Outside Edge is a Horizontal one and clicking the Horizontal Position Tab shows us this:

outside wedge footers

The text is indeed centred!

Clicking the Outside Edge radio button will give us what we want and after clicking the OK button, our footer looks like this:

copyright footer

The Copyright text is now nicely placed in the Outside Edge of the page.

Default positions: text positioned relative to the staff

Till now, we worked only on positioning text in relation to the page margins, however the publisher tells us that the Composer and Lyricist name must be positioned at a set distance from the upper staff. This way, if we would drag the upper staff lower or higher the distance between text and staff will always be the same.

Placing text in relation to a staff is done in the Default Positions window which can be found in the same Layout menu:

default positions

Let’s start with the lyricist name, here is again the publisher’s wish for the Lyricist text:

Lyricist, arranger or editor: Raleigh, 11 Italic. 

Horizontal position: right page margin snapped.

Default positions, vertical distance to staff: 6

We know by now how to set the text size, style and horizontal position. Do this first. After that open the Default Position window from the House Style menu, select the Text Style radio button and choose Lyricist in the list:

text styles

In the window at the right we can set the distances for the selected text style relative to the staff. See in the screenshot below how the publisher’s value is filled in: vertical distance to staff: 6

vertical position

To be sure that this vertical distance is applied above the top of the staff, check if the Above top of staff radio button is selected:

above top of staff

Now do the same with the Composer’s name:

Composer name: Raleigh, 11 Italic

  • Horizontal position: right page margin snapped
  • Default positions: vertical positions relative to staff: 9

Here is how it should look like right now:

result 2

The subtitle and dedication text are dragged on their places as described in the publisher’s house style. Next on the list is the Header after 1st Page.

Header after 1st page

The header after 1st page text style gets his name from the fact that it starts after the 1st page, meaning that it’s  hidden on page one and starts on page two. This is done to prevent the 1st page from becoming too cramped with too much text at the top, it already has a title, subtitle and dedication in our example. Looking back at the publisher’s house style page, this is how he wants the header being defined:

Header after 1st page: Raleigh, 11.6

Composer – title – instrumentation

Unlike the other text styles, it’s not possible to enter this information in the Score info window, but we can combine the wildcards that we used already, create the header and paste it simple into the score. In wildcard format, the header above would look like this:

\$composer\ – \$title\ \$subtitle\

Copy the above wildcard combination.

In Sibelius, choose Header (after first page) from the menu Create/Text/Other System Text/

other system text

Click somewhere on the first page and paste the text. The header is now entered into the score but because there is only a single page, it’s not visible.

To make it visible, go to the View menu and choose Hidden Objects:

hidden objects

And there is our header aster 1st page:

header after 1st page

Select the header and use the change it to Raleigh, 11.6 as we did before with the other text styles. You may need to apply Reset Design before you see the changes.

Looking at the final result, the 1st page looks like this:

final results 3

As you can see, there is an invisible page number at the top right which is a standard publishing practise. Page numbers are always invisible on page one and placed at the top of the page on the outer edge, meaning at the outside of the pages. The simple reason for this is that when you flip through a book you can always see the page numbers, which wouldn’t be possible if they were printed on the inner edge (inside the book).

A last correction we should make is chancing the size of the instrument name for the violin part. As you can see, it’s smaller than the other instrument names and this is because we choose a small staff size during the setup of the score. To keep the names the same size, open the Edit Text Styles from the House Styles menu, select Instrument names in the list and hit Edit. In the General Tab, check the Keep absolute check box in the Size panel:

name size

  • See Sibelius score 1.3 for the result which can be found here:


In the next step, we will look at how to export the house style we just created and import it in another score.

Have a nice day!


Finishing up the engraved score: House styles part 3

1c: creating the publisher’s template

When working with house styles and templates, it’s good to realise that the house style settings will be included in the template, but the template’s layout is not included in the house style.

The house style will assign the correct fonts to the title, subtitle etc. and put them on the assigned place in the score if these elements are present in the score, but will not do the actual placing itself, that is what the template is for.

On the other hand, if you would import a house style into any kind of template, all the elements that are used inside this template will be changed according to the settings in the house style.

In this course we have the Sibelius engraving ready, so in fact it’s not necessary the create an empty template, all we need is to adjust the text elements and put them on their correct places after which we can export these settings as a house style. However, for the sake of complement, we will make both house style and template, including Score info and wildcards in the template to let Sibelius insert the title, composer etc. automatically in the score. You can choose not to use Score info and wildcards though and write this information directly in the score.

Creating the template

The template we are going to make has the instrumentation as used in “After work, late at night” for soprano, violin and piano which can be found here:


Start a new score and click the Change Instrument button to create a score setup as is used in the engraved score. Be sure the instruments are placed in the correct order:

  • Solo Soprano, Violin (solo) and Piano. Set the violin to Small staff:

small staf

  • Click OK to go to the next screen.
  • Click Next and leave the House Style to Unchanged.
  • Click Next and choose the Time Signature 3/4, write the tempo text Cantabile e affetuosso and Metronome mark quarter note = 62.
  • Click Next and choose as Key Signature D major.
  • Click Finish, which will give us a score with the instruments as used in the engraved score but without any text. See Sibelius score 1.1 for the result which can be found here: 


Score info and Wildcards

Instead of typing the title etc. directly into the score, we will use wildcards in combination with the Score info panel. It’s easy to forget something or mistype text, and using wildcards guarantees you that the format of the text in a score will always be the way you or your publisher wants it.

Score Info

Start with filling in the Score info panel: Open File/Score info:

score info

Notice the labels above every field, these are the names of the wildcards which are in fact placeholders that are going to be placed in the score. The text that we type into the above fields will be used to fill these placeholders. So fill these fields with the text you want to see in the score.


The next step is to place the wildcards in the score. As mentioned before, a wildcard is a placeholder that takes the text from the Score Info window. Here are the wildcards for the text used in a score:

Title: \$title\

Part: \$partname\

In the main score, the part name in the Score info window should be “Full score”. In parts, the part name in the score info window is the instrument name of that part, for example “Clarinet in B^b”

Subtitle: \$Subtitle\

The subtitle is be the instrumentation of the score as for example “for violin and piano”: any other subtitles in a score as for example “from the opera Ghandi”, should be written directly into the score in subtitle text format.

Dedication: \$dedication\

Composer: \$composer\

Arranger: \$arranger\

Lyricist: \$lyricist\

Copyist: \$copyist\

Opus number: \$opusnumber\

Composer’s dates: \$composerdates\

Copyright: \$copyright\

You can also combine wildcards, for example:

C.Saint-Saëns (1835-1921):

\$composer\ (\$composerdates\)

Clarinet in B^b – C.Saint-Saëns – Sonata for Clarinet in B^b and piano

\$partname\ – \$composer\ – \$title\ \$subtitle\

Now all you need to do to let Sibelius place the information from the Score Info window in the score, is to copy and past the wildcards into your score, using the correct text style. This is done in two steps. Let’s take the title as an example.


  1. Copy the title wildcard from above (which is \$title\)
  2. In Sibelius, from the Create menu, choose Text/Title, click in the score and paste the wildcard.

The title will show up in the score. The text format and position is not correct yet as shown in the list for the publisher, we will change this after we have placed all the wildcards.

Repeat the above steps for the subtitle, dedication, composer, lyricist and Copyright.

In the next step, we will give all the text their correct format and placement in the score.

have a great day!


Finishing up the engraved score: House styles part 2

1b: installing fonts, templates and house styles

Using a house style speeds up your work immensely, because instead of having to re-assign the fonts size and fonts family for the title, composer name etc, and placing them where the publisher wants to have them manually every time when opening a new score, you simply import this house style into the opened score and you’re ready to go!

Two situations

There are two situations at this point when starting with a new publisher.

  1. They will send you the House Style and Template files you need to create their publishing layout, and the only thing you need to do is to drag them in the correct Sibelius folders.
  1. They will send you a text document with their house style information and an example Sibelius or pdf file so you know how the house style is used. You will have to create the house style from scratch before you can use it in Sibelius. Let’s start with the first situation and install the given files.

Installing the publisher’s fonts

Sometimes, the publisher will even use their own fonts type and it’s possible that you haven’t it installed on your computer. In our case, the publisher uses the Raleigh fonts in all their scores, so we will have to install it first. With the Sibelius program closed, double-click the Raleigh.ttf file. This will open Font Book:


Open Font Book’s Preferences, select Computer as default location and select the two check boxes at the bottom:

fontbook preferences

Close the Preferences window and in the main Font Book window, click the Install Fonts button.

Installing the publisher’s house style files

Copy the House Style files (the ones ending with lib.) in the House Styles folder which can be found in Users/username/Library/Application Support/Sibelius Software/Sibelius 6. If there isn’t a folder with this name, create it and name it appropriately.

For example. here is my House Style folder that contains a lot of different house styles:

house style folder

Installing the publisher’s template files

Copy the Template files (the ones ending with sib.) in the Sibelius Manuscript Paper folder which can be found in Users/username/Library/Application Support/Sibelius Software/Sibelius 6. If there isn’t a folder with this name, create it and name it appropriately.

For example. here is my Manuscript Paper folder that contains a lot of different templates:

manuscript folder

Now all you have to do is opening the Sibelius score that the publisher send you and importing their House Style. More about this later.

In the next post we will have a look at the second situation in which you have to create the house style and template from scratch.

Have a great day!


Finishing up the engraved score: House styles part 1

1a: Installing plugins

After having engraved a score, I follow a step by step outline to make the score publishing/printing ready. The 1st step is creating and importing the publisher’s house style. But before doing anything I recommend to install three very handy plugins:

Filter Text

This plugin presents a list of text, system text, and lyrics that are present in the current selection, and allows you to filter specific styles in the selection.

Split score into Movements

This plugin splits the current score into a number of separate movements scores, based on the location of bars marked as Section Ends.

Disguise Score

This plugin Makes a copy of a score, or of the music contained within a passage selection, deleting previous versions. It then optionally randomized the pitches and text of the score and all the parts, effectively hiding the music while retaining its general structure. It could be useful for posting a score on a web page so that someone can debug problems.

For help with installing, please visit this page: how to install plugins.

In the next post we will have a look at templates.

Have a great day!