Octave lines

Octave (Ottava) lines are used to indicate that a section of music is to be played one or more octaves above or below written pitch: The line may be dotted or solid. Ottavas are available in the Lines palette of the Basic and Advanced workspaces.

8─────┐or 8va─────┐: Play one octave above written pitch (Treble clef only)

8─────┘or 8vb─────┘: Play one octave below written pitch (Bass clef only)

8va/8vb lines are particularly common in piano scores, though they are sometimes used in other instrumental music.1 15ma (2 octaves above) and 15mb (2 octaves below) are also occasionally used.

Debussy. Études, Book II, X
(Debussy. Études, Book II, X)

Apply an octave line

Use one of the following:

  • Select a range of notes, then double click an octave line from a palette.
  • Select one or more measures, then double click an octave line from a palette.
  • Click on a note, then double-click an octave line from the palette (extends line from selected note to end of bar).
  • Drag an octave line from a palette onto a note (extends line from selected note to end of bar).

Change length

To extend or reduce the octave line (while maintaining correct playback):

  1. If you are in note input mode then press Esc

  2. Double click the line that you want to change to enter edit mode

  3. Move the handles using the following shortcuts:

    • Shift+ to move the anchor right by one note (or measure)
    • Shift+ to move the anchor left by one note (or measure)

To make adjustments in length without changing playback properties, drag the handles with the mouse or use the following shortcuts:

  • to move the handle right by 0.1 sp (1 sp = one staff space = the distance between two staff lines).
  • to move the handle left 0.1 sp.
  • Ctrl+ (Mac: Cmd+) to move the handle right one sp.
  • Ctrl+ (Mac: Cmd+) to move the handle left one sp.

Custom lines

You can customize an octave line, including text if required, by editing it on the score page: Right-click on the line then chose Line Properties.... Save the result by dragging and dropping to a palette in your custom workspace while holding down Ctrl+Shift (Mac: Cmd+Shift).


  1. Gerou/Lusk. Essential Dictionary of Music Notation (Internet Archive). 

Do you have an unanswered question? Post it in the forum.