Layout and formatting

Updated einem Monat ago

    Layout and formatting options for the score are accessed from the Format menu.

    Ways to affect layout

    The main commands and dialogs affecting score layout are listed immediately below. Other formatting options are covered further down the page (but for text, see Text styles and properties).

    • Page Settings: Adjust the overall dimensions of your score such as page size, page margins, and scaling.

    • Increase/Decrease Layout Stretch: Adjust the score spacing by stretching or squashing selected measures.

    • Score: Set overall score details, such as music font, display of multi-measure rests, and whether to hide empty staves.

    • Page: Adjust staff and system spacing, score and lyric margins etc.

    • Measure Style: Set the measure spacing, which affects the number of measures per line.

    • Sizes: Set the default size of "small" and grace notes, small staves and small clefs.

    Other commands:

    Style

    The Style submenu contains dialogs which allow you to adjust the global formatting of many score elements. To open Style:

    • From the menu, select FormatStyle…
    • Right click on a space in the document window and select Style….
    • Use a keyboard shortcut (see Shortcuts).

    The Style dialogs are as follows:

    Score

    To open the Score dialog, select FormatStyle…Score.

    This dialog allows you to set global properties, such as the music font, display of multimeasure rests, whether or not to hide empty staves, swing playback etc.

    • Musical symbols font: Choice of display in Emmentaler, Bravura or Gonville fonts. Tick the box to "automatically load style settings based on font."
    • Musical text font: Choice of display in Emmentaler, Bravura, Gonville or MuseJazz fonts.

    • Display in concert pitch: Tick this option to display the score at concert pitch. If unticked the score is displayed at written pitch.

    • Create multimeasure rests: Tick to display multimeasure rests.

      • Minimum number of empty measures: The default is 2.
      • Minimum width of measure: The default width is 4 sp.
    • Hide empty staves within systems: This option saves space by hiding those staves in a system which consist of only empty measures. Used for condensed scores.

    • Don't hide empty staves in first system: Always display staves in first system even if they consist of empty measures.

    • Display note values across measure boundaries: A feature useful for notating early music. See Unbarred notation.

    • Hide instrument name if there is only one instrument: You don't usually need to display the instrument name in this case.

    • Swing settings allows you to control the degree of swing for the whole score.

      • Swing: Choice of OFF (default) / Eight Note / Sixteenth note.
      • Select swing ratio: The default is 60%.

    If you prefer to set swing on the score page, see Swing.

    Page

    To open the Page dialog, select FormatStyle...Page.

    This dialog allows you to adjust the overall layout of your score by changing the spacing of margins, systems, staves, lyrics lines, and frames. You can also control the display of key signatures, time signatures, and clefs.

    The diagram below is a guide to various parameters under the control of this dialog:

    Score layout

    • Music top margin: The distance between the top staff line of the first staff on the page and the top page margin.
    • Music bottom margin: The distance between the bottom staff line of the last staff on the page and the bottom page margin.

    • Staff distance: The space between staves which are not part of a grand staff (see below).

    • Grand staff distance: The space between staves that share the same instrument—such as the piano, organ, or those of a guitar staff/tab pair.

    Note: To alter the space above one particular staff see Extra distance above staff (Staff properties).

    • Min. system distance: The minimum distance allowed between one system and the next.
    • Max. system distance: The maximum distance allowed between one system and the next.

    • Vertical frame top margin: The default margin height above a vertical frame.

    • Vertical frame bottom margin: The default margin height below a vertical frame.

    • Last system fill threshold: If the last system is longer than this percentage of the page width, it gets stretched to fill that width.

    The following check boxes allow you to control the display of clefs, time signatures, and key signatures—including the courtesy kind.

    • Create clef for all systems / Create key signature for all systems / Create courtesy clefs / Create courtesy time signatures / Create courtesy key signatures.

    Sizes

    To open the Sizes dialog, select FormatStyle...Sizes.

    Sets the proportional size of "small" and grace notes, as well as small staves and clefs. Changing this would be unusual.

    To open the Header, Footer dialog, select FormatStyle...Header, Footer.

    This allows you to add header and footer text using meta tags (see Score properties)—such as page numbers, page headers, copyright information etc. For example, you can create different Headers and Footers for even and odd pages, such as putting page numbers on the right for odd-numbered pages and on the left for even-numbered pages.

    If you hover with your mouse over the Header or Footer text region, a list of macros will appear, showing their meaning, as well as the existing meta tags and their content.

    To create a header or footer for an individual part, that part needs to be the active tab. To create a header or footer for a score with linked parts, make sure the main score is in the active tab.

    Measure Numbers

    To open the Measure Numbers dialog, select FormatStyle...Measure Numbers.

    This allows you to specify whether measure numbers will appear in the score, and, if so, at what intervals. You can also set the font properties.

    System

    To open the System dialog, select FormatStyle...System.

    This dialog allows you to adjust certain properties of all systems.

    Brackets:

    • System bracket thickness: Set the width of system brackets.
    • Brace thickness: Set the width of system braces.
    • System bracket distance: Set the distance between system brackets and the start barlines.
    • Brace distance: Set the distance between system braces and the start barlines.

    See also Brackets.

    Dividers:

    • Left / Right: Specify whether to show system dividers, what types, and apply global positioning offset values.

    Clefs

    To open the Clefs dialog, select FormatStyle...Clefs.

    Chose the style of the default tablature clef: Standard or Serif.

    Accidentals

    To open the Accidentals dialog, select FormatStyle...Accidentals.

    Allows you to specify how the score displays key signature accidentals at key changes. See Naturals on key signature changes.

    Measure

    To open the Measure dialog, select FormatStyle...Measure.

    For details, see Measure.

    Barlines

    To open the Barlines dialog, select FormatStyle...Barlines.

    • Show repeat barline tips ("winged repeats"):
    • Barline at start of single staff: Whether to show barlines at the beginning of a staff.
    • Barline at start of multiple staff: Whether to show barlines at the beginning of multiple staves.
    • Scale barlines to staff size: Affects "small" staves only.

    Other properties allow you to set the thickness of "thin," "thick" and double barlines, the distance between double barlines, and the repeat barline to dot distance.

    Notes

    To open the Notes dialog, select StyleGeneral...Notes. The dialog can also be opened direct from the score by right-clicking on any note and selecting "Style…"

    Here you can adjust the distance and thickness of note-related objects (stems, ledger lines, dots, accidentals). Changing these would be unusual.

    Beams

    To open the Beams dialog, select StyleGeneral...Beams.

    This allows you to set the overall properties of note beams in the score:

    • Beam thickness
    • Beam distance: The vertical distance between beams.
    • Broken beam minimum length: Affects secondary beams where they do not fully extend from note to note.

    Ticking the Flatten all beams option means that all note beams will be horizontal only—not sloped.

    Tuplets

    To open the Tuplets dialog, select FormatStyle...Tuplets.

    Vertical Distance from Notes:

    • Maximum slope: Limit the slope of tuplet brackets.
    • Vertical distance from stem: Refers to tuplet numbers and brackets.
    • Vertical distance from notehead: Refers to tuplet numbers and brackets.

    Horizontal distance from notes:

    • Distance before stem of first note: Sets default position of start of tuplet bracket when above/below note stems.
    • Distance before head of first note: Sets default position of start of tuplet bracket when above/below noteheads.
    • Distance after stem of last note: Sets default position of end of tuplet bracket when above/below note stems.
    • Distance after head of last note: Sets default position of end of tuplet bracket when above/below noteheads.

    Brackets:

    • Bracket thickness:
    • Bracket hook height; Sets the default length of the vertical hooks at the ends of tuplet brackets

    Properties:

    • Direction / Number type / Bracket type

    Arpeggios

    To open the Arpeggios dialog, select FormatStyle...Arpeggios.

    Here you can change the distance to note, line thickness, and hook length of the following arpeggio and strum symbols:

    Arpeggio and strum symbols

    Slurs/Ties

    To open the Slurs/Ties dialog, select FormatStyle...Slurs/Ties.

    • Line thickness at end
    • Line thickness middle
    • Dotted line thickness
    • Minimum tie length
    • Autoplace min. distance

    Hairpins

    To open the Hairpins dialog, select FormatStyle...Hairpins.

    Here you can set the default properties of hairpins (crescendo and decresendo lines):

    • Placement: Whether to place above or below the staff.
    • Position above/below: Set a numerical value in sp. units.
    • Height: The width of the mouth of the hairpin.
    • Continue height
    • Autoplace distance to dynamics
    • Line thickness

    Volta

    To open the Volta dialog, select FormatStyle...Volta.

    Here you can set the default properties of voltas:

    • Default position: Set X- and Y-offsets.
    • Hook height: The length of descending lines at the ends of voltas.
    • Line thickness
    • Line style: A solid line is the default option, but there are dotted and dashed alternatives.

    Ottava

    To open the Ottava dialog, select FormatStyle...Ottava.

    Here you can set the default properties of ottavas (octave lines):

    • Numbers only: If unticked, the ottava also displays "va" or "vb" after the number.
    • Position above/below: Set the X- and Y-offsets for the ottava.
    • Hook height above/below: The length of the ascending/descending line at the end of the ottava.
    • Line thickness
    • Line style: A dotted line is the default option, but there are solid, dotted and dashed alternatives.

    Pedal

    To open the Pedal dialog, select FormatStyle...Pedal.

    Here you can set the default properties of pedal lines:

    • Placement: Below or above the staff.
    • Position above/below: Set the exact default position using offset values.
    • Line thickness:
    • Line style: solid is the default but there is a range of dashed and dotted options.

    Trill

    To open the Trill dialog, select FormatStyle...Trill.

    Here you can set the default placement of Trill lines:

    • Placement: Below or above the staff.
    • Position above/below: Set the exact default position using offset values.

    Vibrato

    To open the Vibrato dialog, select FormatStyle...Vibrato.

    Here you can set the default placement of Vibrato lines:

    • Placement: Below or above the staff.
    • Position above/below: Set the exact default position using offset values.

    Bend

    To open the Bend dialog, select FormatStyle...Bend.

    Here you can set the display properties of Bends. This includes the line thickness, arrow width and font properties.

    Text Line

    To open the Text Line dialog, select FormatStyle...Text Line.

    Here you can set the default placement of text lines:

    • Placement: Below or above the staff.
    • Position above/below: Set the exact default position using offset values.

    Articulations, Ornaments

    To open the Articulations, Ornaments dialog, select FormatStyle...Articulations, Ornaments.

    This dialog allows you set the default placement distances and size (as a percentage) of articulations and ornaments.

    Fermatas

    To open the Fermatas dialog, select FormatStyle...Fermatas.

    This dialog allows you set the default placement of fermatas.

    Staff Text

    To open the Staff text dialog, select FormatStyle...Staff Text.

    This dialog allows you set the default placement and autoplacement properties of staff text.

    Tempo Text

    To open the Tempo text dialog, select FormatStyle...Staff Text.

    This dialog allows you set the default placement and autoplacement properties of tempo text.

    Lyrics

    To open the Lyrics dialog, select FormatStyle...Lyrics.

    Lyrics Style dialog

    Lyrics Text

    • Placement: Default position of lyric lines in relation to the staff; Above or Below.
    • Position above / Position below: The X and Y offsets for "Placement."
    • Line height: Default distance between lyric lines.
    • Min. top margin: Minimum distance between the lyric lines and the parent staff skyline.
    • Min. bottom margin: Minimum distance between the lyric lines and the skyline of the next staff.
    • Min. distance: Minimum distance between lyrics syllables.
    • Align verse number:

    Lyrics Dash

    • Min. dash length: Minimum length of inter-syllable dashes.
    • Max. dash length: Maximum length of inter-syllable dashes.
    • Max. dash distance: Maximum distance allowed between dashes. Reducing this value allows more dashes to form between syllables where possible—and vice versa.
    • Dash thickness: The (vertical) thickness of the dash.
    • Dash pad:
    • Dash y position ratio: Affects the vertical placement of the dash.
    • Always force dash:Tick to ensure that a dash is always visible between syllables.

    Lyrics melisma

    • Melisma thickness: The (vertical) thickness of the melisma.
    • Melisma pad:
    • Align:

    See also, Melismas.

    Dynamics

    To open the Dynamics dialog, select FormatStyle...Dynamics.

    This dialog allows you set the default placement and autoplacement properties of dynamics.

    Rehearsal Marks

    To open the Rehearsal Marks dialog, select FormatStyle...Rehearsal Marks.

    This dialog allows you set the default placement and autoplacement properties of rehearsal marks.

    Figured Bass

    To open the Figured Bass dialog, select FormatStyle...Figured Bass.

    This allows you to set the default font, style, alignment and position of figured bass.

    Chord Symbols

    To open the Chord Symbols dialog, select FormatStyle...Chord Symbols.

    This section allows you to adjust the format and positioning of chord symbols:

    Appearance:

    • Chose a default chord symbol style—Standard, Jazz or Custom.

    Note spelling:

    • Chose the spelling convention for chord symbols and whether to use capital or small letters.

    Positioning:

    • Distance to fretboard diagram: The distance (in sp. units) from a chord symbol to a fretboard diagram when both are applied to the same location on a staff. This value overrides the above "Default vertical position" setting. The user can chose to place a chord symbol below a fretboard diagram by entering a negative value.
    • Minimum chord spacing: The minimum space to allow between chord symbols.
    • Maximum barline distance: Increases the distance between the final chord symbol in a measure and the following barline. You may wish to adjust this value if there is a recurring problem in the score with overlap between the final chord symbol in one measure and the following chord symbol.

    Capo:

    • Capo fret position: Enter the number of the capo position at which you want to display substitute chords, in brackets, for all chord symbols in the score.

    Fretboard Diagrams

    To open the Fretboard Diagrams dialog, select FormatStyle...Fretboard Diagrams.

    This section allows you to adjust the format and positioning of Fretboard diagrams.

    • Default vertical position: the distance in sp. units from a newly applied fretboard diagram to a staff. A negative value may be used.
    • Scale: Increase or decrease the size of the fretboard diagram in the score.
    • Fret offset number font size: Increase or decrease the size of a fret number displayed next to a diagram.
    • Position Left/Right: Display fret number to the left or right of the fretboard diagram.
    • Barre line thickness: Make barre lines in fretboard diagrams thicker or thinner.

    Text Styles

    To open the Text Styles dialog, select FormatStyle...Text Styles.

    This dialog allows you to set the formatting of all text styles. Individual text styles can also be set from the Inspector.

    OK / Cancel / Apply buttons

    Any changes made in the Style dialog are immediately applied to the score, but can be rescinded at any time by pressing Cancel—which also exits the dialog. Press OK to save your changes to the score and close the window.

    If you are making formatting adjustments in an instrument part, use the Apply to all Parts button to apply all changes to all parts in the score.

    Page Settings...

    See Page settings.

    Add / Remove System breaks

    This tool adds or removes system breaks over all or part of the score:

    1. Select a range of measures: if no selection is made, the command is applied to the whole score.
    2. Chose FormatAdd/Remove System Breaks…. The following dialog appears.

      Add/Remove Line Breaks

    3. Chose one of the following options:

      • Break systems every X (select number) measures;
      • Add system break at end of each system;
      • Remove current system breaks;
    4. Press OK.

    Stretch

    Used to increase, decrease or reset the horizontal spacing of notes within selected measures.

    Increase / Decrease layout stretch

    1. Select a range of measures. Or use Ctrl+A to select the whole score.
    2. Chose one of two options:
      • To increase stretch:
        • Use the shortcut } (right curly bracket) (Mac: Ctrl+Alt+9).
        • Or from the menu bar, select FormatStretchIncrease Layout Stretch.
      • To decrease stretch:
        • Use the shortcut { (left curly bracket) (Mac: Ctrl+Alt+8).
        • Or from the menu bar, select FormatStretchDecrease Layout Stretch.

    Reset stretch

    To reset stretch to the default spacing of 1:

    1. Select a range of measures. Or use Ctrl+A to select the whole score.
    2. From the menu, select FormatStretchReset Layout Stretch.

    See also Measure Properties: Layout stretch. This allows you to set the stretch more precisely.

    Reset Style

    To reset all text styles to the "factory" default settings:

    • From the menu, select FormatReset Style.

    Reset Beams

    To restore beams to the mode defined in the local time signatures:

    1. Select the section of the score you want to reset. If nothing is selected, the operation will apply to the whole score;
    2. Select FormatReset Beams.

    See also Beams.

    Reset Shapes and Positions

    The Reset Shapes and Positions command restores the default positions, note stem directions and shapes (slurs, ties etc.) for selected score elements. To apply:

    1. Select the elements or the region of the score that you wish to reset. Or use Ctrl+A to select the whole score.
    2. Press Ctrl+R; or, from the menu, select FormatReset Shapes and positions.

    Load / Save style

    It is easy to transfer a complete set of styles (all General Style settings, all text styles, and page settings) from one score to the other using the Load/Save Style feature.

    To load a customized style:

    1. Go to FormatLoad Style....
    2. Navigate to and select the Style file (.mss) and click Open (or double click on the file).

    All existing styles in the score should update automatically.

    To save a customized style:

    1. Go to FormatSave Style....
    2. Name and save the style file (the default folder is set in your Preferences). Styles are stored as *.mss files.

    Note: You can also define a preferred style for scores and parts in the Score section of MuseScore's Preferences.

    See also

    Do you still have an unanswered question? Please log in first to post your question.