Page layout

Noteman says: See Working with staves and systems for a step-by-step tutorial overview of page layout.

Page layout depends on many elements and settings in your document. While you can control these settings on a staff-by-staff or system-by-system basis, it is recommended to define a page format that applies to the majority of the document prior to making these individual edits. This definition is controlled for the score in the Page Format for Score dialog box and for linked parts in the Page Format for Parts dialog box.

The initial layout of any document’s pages is determined by this definition. Changes you make to the page layout definition in these dialog boxes, however, don’t immediately affect existing pages—only pages yet to be created. Fortunately, it's easy to apply the changes to existing pages.

Once your overall page layout is defined, you can easily make formatting changes with the Page Layout tool icon, such as specifying how much music should fit on a page—how many measures per line, for example, or how many systems on a page. It’s important to realize that there are several elements affecting the amount of music on a page:

Horizontal layout

  • Music spacing. You can control the “tightness” of the spacing of the music itself with the Music Spacing command in conjunction with a Spacing Width library. The tighter the music, the more measures will fit on a line, and hence the more music will fit on the page.
  • Measure layout. You can lock measures into a particular system, which is especially useful when you’re fine-tuning a piece’s layout: avoiding an awkward page turn, forcing a key change to fall at the beginning of a system, and so on. While these adjustments may improve readability of a document, they may end up increasing the number of systems required.
  • Measure widths. Finale automatically determines the width of each measure, based on what's happening in each staff during the same measure. However, you can override this automatic calculation and specify exactly how much horizontal space you want each measure to take up in a system.

Vertical layout

  • Staff height and scaling. These properties of the staves themselves can significantly decrease or increase the amount of music that fits on a page. Note, however, that changing these values also changes the size of the notation itself; readability depends on the performer's distance from the sheet music and in most cases only a narrow range of staff height values is suitable.
  • Distance between staves. Look at the distance between staves in each system; if you decrease the total height of the system (by clicking the Staff tool and dragging the staves closer to each other), more systems fit on the page.
  • Distance between systems. If you’re trying to fit another system onto a page, the simplest solution is to slightly decrease the space between all systems, so that the cumulative effect is to create just enough room for another system on each page. You can also specify the number of systems on a page by using the Space Systems Evenly command (see To specify a number of systems on each page).

Overall adjustments

  • Page margins. While narrowing page margins is a quick way of increasing the amount of available space on a page, other considerations apply. Will the sheet music be bound, stapled, or hole-punched? Will the performer need room in the margins to make notes?
  • Reduction/enlargement. You may find that a reduction of even a percentage point or two is just enough to fit another measure per line, or another system per page (see Reducing/Enlarging).

Tip: In general, determining a document's page layout should be one of the final tasks of music preparation. For a recommended generic workflow, see Best practices: Order of entry.

Understanding system margins, staff height/position, and scaling

Distance settings for pages, systems, and staves work together to determine the vertical layout of a document. The process relies upon an understanding of distances, margins, systems, and reducing/enlarging, and will differ between individual documents and situations. In other words, it is a considerable element of the art of engraving.

Finale's method of scaling systems is a product of staff height and a separate scaling ratio that you can specify; these settings can be controlled in the Resize Staff System dialog box or Page Format for Score dialog box/Page Format for Parts dialog box. Staff height is compared to a default ("absolute") staff height of 96 EVPUs (.3333 inches or .8467 cm; see Equivalents). For example, a default document has an automatic staff height of 82 EVPUs, resulting in a system scaling of approximately 85% (82 ÷ 96). If you were to additionally specify an 88% scaling ratio, the resulting system scaling would be 75% (85% × 88%).

Use the following as a general guide for vertical layout.

Setting Controlled by Affects
Top margin (page) Page Format for Score dialog box All pages (on redefined pages) in score
Page Format for Parts dialog box All pages (on redefined pages) in linked parts
Edit Page Margins dialog box Specified page(s); updates Page Format dialog box
Page Layout tool icon Dragging affects single page; updates Page Format dialog box
Distance from top (first system) Page Format for Score dialog box First system only (when redefined) in score
Page Format for Parts dialog box First system only (when redefined) in linked parts
Edit System Margins dialog box Distance between systems for System 1 updates Page Format dialog box Distance from top
Page Layout tool icon Dragging does not update Page Format dialog box
Top margin (system) Page Format for Score dialog box All systems (on redefined pages) in score
Page Format for Parts dialog box All systems (on redefined pages) in linked parts
Edit System Margins dialog box Specified system(s); updates Page Format dialog box
Page Layout tool icon Dragging affects selected system(s); updates Page Format dialog box
Staff tool icon Dragging top staff of first system updates Edit System Margins dialog box
Top staff position Respace Staves dialog box Top staff of selected systems (see also Space above each selected staff below); updates Staff Usage dialog box
Staff Usage List dialog box Selected staff (see Distance from top of previous staff below)
Space above each selected staff (topline to topline distance)

Distance from top of previous staff
Respace Staves dialog box All selected staves except top staff; updates Staff Usage dialog box
Staff Usage List dialog box Selected staff
Staff tool icon Dragging affects topmost staff of selected staves; updates Staff Usage dialog box
Staff height Page Format for Score dialog box All staves (on redefined pages) in score
Page Format for Parts dialog box All staves (on redefined pages) in linked parts
Resize Staff System dialog box All staves in specified systems; updates Page Format dialog box
Bottom margin (system) Page Format for Score dialog box All systems (on redefined pages) in score
Page Format for Parts dialog box All systems (on redefined pages) in linked parts
Edit System Margins dialog box Specified system(s); updates Page Format dialog box
Page Layout tool icon Dragging affects selected system(s); updates Page Format dialog box
Distance between systems Page Format for Score dialog box All systems (on redefined pages) in score
Page Format for Parts dialog box All systems (on redefined pages) in linked parts
Edit System Margins dialog box Specified systems; see also Distance from top (first system) above
Page Layout tool icon Dragging affects topmost system of selected systems
Staff tool icon Dragging top staff of all but first system updates Edit System Margins dialog box
[Available space] Remainder of vertical space above bottom page margin N/A
Bottom margin (page) Page Format for Score dialog box All pages (on redefined pages) in score
Page Format for Parts dialog box All pages (on redefined pages) in linked parts
Edit Page Margins dialog box Specified page(s); updates Page Format dialog box
Page Layout tool icon Dragging affects single page; updates Page Format dialog box

For details on printing large scores that require taping several printed pages together into composite pages, see To print large scores by taping smaller pages together (tiling pages).

See also:

Page Layout menu

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