Tips related to music layout and how to make the music look good on the page.

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Here are some tips when putting together a collection of multiple pieces or movements:


  • The absolutely easiest way is if the pieces can be kept in the same file. That way, things like page numbering in scores and parts will sort out automatically.
  • If you're using the ScoreMerger, pickups does not work well (as in Finale 2010b) with ScoreMerger. Instead, set the file to not use a pickup measure, set the time signature to the actual number of beats in the measure use another time signature for display (adjust the measure numbering accordingly).
  • If you create new pieces manually in the file, make sure that the last measure in the previous piece has a final barline and has the Hide Cautionary Clefs, Key and Time Signatures option set. Make sure that the first measure attributes of the new piece has Always Show set for the Time Signature option. Start a new measure number region in the new piece.
  • Use indentation of the first system of each piece if the style requires it.
  • Create and layout the parts when all pieces are merged.
  • If you need to insert additional room in the middle of an already layouted score, use TGTools->Layout->Split Staff System... to split a system into more systems without breaking the layout in the later staff systems. Insert the new measures in the new systems.
  • When merging pieces with repeats, make sure that backward repeat don't have Nearest Forward Repeat set unless there actually is a forward repeat before. When using playback, Finale will rewind to the very top of the file if no forward repeat is found. To fix this, bring up the context menu for the backward repeat, select Edit Repeat Assignment... and use the Backward target option to jump back a number of measures instead.

Piece Titles

  • Keep the titles for each piece/movement are created either as measure-attached expressions or measure-attached text blocks.
  • Attach the title to the first measure in each piece.
  • Keep the font size at a fixed size to prevent any side-effects from staff or staff system reductions.
  • Measure-attached expressions for piece titles have some advantages compared to text blocks:
  1. Positioning can be automated. Although there currently is no "Center on page" option for vertical positioning of expression, horizontal centering of the title can be faked by positioning it relative to the left barline of the first measure. If all start staff systems for each piece are of the same width, the positioning can easily be made consistent this way.
  2. The style can be automated by keeping all piece titles in a separate category, so it becomes consistent (and easy to change) for all titles in the file.

PDF Approach

If keeping every piece/movement in one single Finale file isn't an option, another approach is to assemble all pages for the score and each part into PDF files (where each PDF file will contain all separate pages for a part or the score) and then insert page numbering using a PDF athoring tool. However, this approach will need more work if the material needs to be updated.

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Here's how to create a dotted/dashed barline between the staves while keeping solid barlines in the staves:

Create two overlapping groups - one with normal barlines on staves only, and one with dashed barlines between staves. Make sure that Use Alternate Group Barline is checked for each of them.

For the group with dashes between the staves, you can also displace the group name position a bit and put the name in the Hidden text style for easier reference while editing the score.

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To improve the appearance of a steep slur (e.g., between adjacent 16th notes an octave apart), pull the whole slur slightly away from the notes in a horizontal direction. There is usually not necessary to change the shape of the slur.
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Some of the articulations in the Petrucci character set don't work very well in the default size. Here are some suggested size changes (assuming that you use the default 24 point size for the music):

  • Tenuto line (character 45 in the Petrucci character set) - 32 point
  • Heavy accents (without staccato: numbers 94 & 118, with staccato: numbers 172 & 232) - 20 point