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Finale Notational Defaults

Finale adheres to the standards of music engraving practice that follow. There are many more “rules” or “standards” that govern music notation, and indeed, the standards themselves may vary from publisher to publisher. The ones listed here are automatically supported by Finale.

Placement of Text

Staff names are centered vertically on each staff. Both full and abbreviated staff names are right-aligned.

Chord symbols are placed 1/2 inch above the top line of the staff. If Guitar Fretboards also appear, the Chord Symbol appears one inch above the top line of the staff, and the top of the fretboard appears 1/2 inch above the top lines of the staff.

Lyrics appear 1/2 inch below the bottom line of the staff.

Notes, Stems and Beams (Ligatures)

Single notes with single stems are stemmed down when the note is positioned on the middle line of the staff or higher. Down stems are positioned on the left side of the note. Single notes with single stems are stemmed up when the note is positioned on the second space of the staff or lower. Up stems are positioned on the right side of the note.

Single stems are exactly one octave in length. If there is more than one note on a stem, the stem length is calculated from the note closest to the end of the stem.

Stems of notes on ledger lines which would not normally reach the middle line of the staff are extended to reach the middle line of the staff.

A beam is the thickness of half a space. The normal stem length will accommodate two beams. For each additional beam the stem length is extended one space. The angle up or down of any beam does not exceed one space, and the direction of the slant is determined by the general direction of the movement of the notes.

Placement of Note Heads

In an interval of a second on a single stem the lower note is placed on the left of the stem, the upper note on the right. In this configuration the note head on the wrong side of the stem is called a “displaced” note. Chords with opposite stems or on separate staves are aligned according to the properly placed note heads, not the displaced note heads.

Accidentals in a chord

When accidentals cannot be aligned, the highest accidental is placed in the normal position and the next lower accidental is placed to the left of it. Accidentals continue to be placed to the left until an accidental can align with the top one, in which case the procedure is repeated until all the accidentals have been placed.

Accidentals across barlines

When a note with an accidental is tied across a barline, the accidental is not repeated on the first note of the next measure. However, if the note appears later in the measure, the accidental is repeated.

Modifying Symbols

Articulations are placed on the notehead side, opposite the stem. Bowing marks are placed above the staff, regardless of the stem direction.

Music Spacing (Time Spacing)

There are no absolute rules governing time spacing, but Finale follows the general principle of spacing notes according to their duration. Longer notes are followed by larger spaces than shorter notes.

Barlines have no rhythmic significance and do not affect the time spacing. Neither do accidentals, except in those situations when the normal time spacing may not allow enough room for the accidental, in which case additional space is allotted for the accidental.

Rests are treated the same as notes, except for the whole measure rest which is centered in the measure.

Grace Notes

The stem direction is up for grace notes. Slashes appear on flagged grace notes (unless Slash Flagged Grace Notes is deselected in the Document Options dialog box).


Tuplets can appear as a number placed within a bracket, or, on the beam side, just a number. The beam of a rhythmic group is extended over any rests within the group. The bracket slope adjusts to the notation, following the slope of beams and stems.

Multimeasure Rest (Block Rest)

A Multimeasure or block rest is built into Finale. The rest appears centered on the middle staff line. The thick horizontal line in 3 pts. (1 space) thick (the same thickness as beams), and the thin vertical lines, which extend from the second to the fourth staff line, are 1/2 point thick.

The multimeasure rest number appears just above the staff. The width of the measure is 1 1/4 inches to contain the multimeasure rest symbol.

Line Thickness

Beam thickness is three points (half a space). Barline, ledger line, staff line, and stem line thickness are half a point. Other lines (such as tuplet and repeat brackets) are also half a point thick.

Spacing of Basic Elements

A certain amount of space appears before and after basic musical elements. One space appears before clefs, key and time signatures, and before the first note or rest in a measure. An additional half space appears after key and time signatures.

Maestro Font Default file

The Maestro Font Default file is what appears when you choose the File menu > New > Default Document. It consists of one treble staff with 31 measures, in common time. Measure numbers appear at the start of each line, above the clef. It contains libraries for music spacing, chord symbols, musical text and shape expressions, articulations, and so on. See Finale Libraries for more information.

The page size is 8.5 by 11 inches with 1/2 inch page margins all around except for the left margin which is 3/4 inch. The first system is indented (from the page margin) 1/2 inch, and is dropped 1 1/2 inches to allow for a title, and other text. A place holder for a title appears centered 1/2 inch below the top margin, and page numbers appear beginning on page 2 in the form “-2-”. Music appears and prints at 100%.



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