Turning off full justification of the last line

• Oct 27, 2012 - 00:44

When I write a piece whose last line does not naturally fill up the whole line (for instance when the last line contains only three measures of quarter notes), the program stretches the measures of the last line all the way to the right margin, giving an unattractive appearance.
I am calling this full justification of the last line.
How can I give the measures in the last line a spacing similar to that of the measures in the preceding lines? Or in a piece of only, say, three measures, how do I turn off this unsightly full justification and stretching?


The last line is justified only if it exceeds the "last system fill threshold" as set in Style / General Style. So increasing that will also defeat the justification. But if you try that, you will find the measures far too tightly spaced compare to the other lines, which *are* justified. So either way. you'll want to use the horizontal spacer.

Thanks for the explanations. I am able to create a box as you say to take up space.

Now may I recommend that the behavior of the program be changed? Somehow the program is figuring spacing of lines other than the last line so as to fit a limited number of measures on a line, so that those lines are neither crowded or too spread out. I guess it should use the same method to determine the lengths of measures in the last line, instead of using full justification there by default. Does anyone prefer full justification for the last line?

In reply to by Odie

I think you might be misunderstanding my comments.

The other lines *are* justified, so the spacing you see is already the result of MuseScore having stretched them out. If MuseScore didn't justify those lines, you'd see the same behavior - too tight spacing there too. You've become so accustomed to the spacing in the other (justified) lines that the tighter unjustified spacing does not look right, and if your last measure is under-full, it doesn't look right unjustified either. That's why most editors deliberately plan their line breaks in order to avoid under-full last systems - so the last line will look correct when justified, as it normally is.

But there is definitely an issue in 1.X where the spacing is even tighter on the last line than it should be given your overall spacing settings in Style / General Style and the Stretch setting for those measures. This appears to have been improved in 2.0, FWIW. But it still ends up looking too tight most of the time, because we're just not used to seeing unjustified music. We're used to seeing the results of measures being stretched out further than necessary in order to fill a line. So even in 2.0, I think it will remain necessary to fiddle with this at times. Mostly. you will want to plan your line breaks (just as professional editors do) to avoid under-full last systems. And when you end up being unable to avoid an under-full last system, you may wish to finesse the spacing of the last line to mimic the already-stretched-out look of other lines. I suppose MuseScore could try to implement some sort of algorithm where it tried to "guess" how much you might want the last line stretched, but I prefer control over having programs guess.

As for full justification of the last line - well, yes, that is absolutely what most people want most of the time. Look at any published sheet music, and you'll see it 90% of the time at least. The only cases where you would not want the last line justified are when it happens to contain too few measures. Most editors would deliberately make choices as to where to break the preceding lines to avoid this happening, so the last line would have a decent number of measures. The only time you normally see published sheet music *not* do this is if the last system is a coda and contains only one or two measures.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella


First thank you for telling me about the convention for published sheet music.

There is some range of stretching/compression that is allowed in the algorithm that automatically fully justifies lines other than the first line. Pick up any long piece of music and count the number of measures on the first line. Suppose it is 7. Then you might be okay putting anywhere from 6 to 8 measures on the first line. But when formatting that same piece you would not put just 3 measures on the first line, and you would not try to cram 12 measures on the first line. There is some value of stretching/compression that corresponds to putting those 7 measures on that first line. Similarly there is a (probably slightly different) value for each line other than the first. I am saying that the stretching/compression of the last line should be close to the stretching/compression of the other lines---unless full justification of the last line is desired.

So I would just put in an option for the user to turn full justification of the last line on or off. If it is off, the last line is stretched/compressed to a similar degree as the other lines. In light of what you say about last-line justification of published music, it would seem that the default behavior should be that the last line is fully justified. The user could simply turn that off if it is not wanted, rather than having to append a frame.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Maybe we are not understanding each others' terminology. To me the concept could hardly be simpler. Here I use 'spacing' to mean the same as 'stretching/compression' in my previous post. With the option as I described it, the spacing of the last line would be nearly the same as the average of the spacings of the other lines. All lines except the last would be fully justified.

You wrote: "You've become so accustomed to the spacing in the other (justified) lines that the tighter unjustified spacing does not look right". How do you say that I don't like the look of the "tighter unjustified spacing"? That is what I want in the last line: tighter than when fully justified---and neither tighter nor less tight than the other lines. What I don't like is the stretched-out look in the last line. How is the unjustified spacing tighter?

In reply to by Odie

I agree we don't seem to be understanding each other.

I define justification as artifically stretching music out to take the full width of a line. All lines but the last are *always* justified; there is no way to turn that off. That is, they are artifically stretched out, by various amoints depending on how full they are. You have never those lones in their natural unjustified state. The only line you may jave ever seen unjustified is the last one, and then only if you have not planned you lone breaks well and have thus ended up with an underfull last system. In that case - if the last sustem does not exceed the define fill threshold - then no justification is performed. And as you will see if you try it, it looks terrible in most cases.

So what you are asking is not for MuseScore to leave the line completely unjustified - that is already possible, but it looks bad. You are asking that MuseScore try to "guess" (perhaps by calculating an average of a certain number of previous lines) how much artificial stretch to apply to the last line, so that it is not completely mustified but not left in its natural state, either.

As long as there is a way to turn off that guess and give me *control* back, I wouldn't mind if such a feature were added. But you don't seem to be understanding that you really do have control as it is - you don't need to rely on MuseScore to "guess" anything. You can tell it exactly how much you want to strwtch that last lone. By placing a horizontal spacer and setting the fill threshold low (so the last line is always justified), you can have complete contol over how much that last lone is stretched.

Again, professional editors rarely deal with this because they plan their line breaks so the last line is not so underfull. They justify the last line just as all other lines are justified. Only if you fail to plan your lone breaks well are you stuck in a situation where your last line is underfull, and you realize that neither justifying it nor not justifying it look correct. So only in cases where you have failed to plan your line breaks well do you have to resort to adding these spacers.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

You wrote: "You just might not like the tight spacing that results unless you add a frame to take up some of the slack."

How does adding a frame or taking up slack make the spacing less tight? As I understand it, adding a frame and widening the frame necessarily makes the spacing between notes tighter---makes the measures shorter.

Are we talking past each other because of terminology?

In reply to by Odie

The way that adding a spacer allows you stretch the line is by changing the margin to which MuseScore tries to justify. Try it. Set the last system fill threshold to 0, forcing justification. You'll see the last line stwtched out across the whole width of the page (up to the right margin). That is too stretched put. Now append a spacer. Suddenly, the last line is not stretched all the way to the margin - it's closer to what you want. Increae the size of the space and you decrease the length of the last line. At some point, it looks how you want. The ley, again, is to actually use the justification. Only if you disable justification will the measure be too tight. Wth the justification on, it will be too loose, and then adding the spacer will allow you to gradually tighten it.

As I indicated, for 2.0, the spacing when not justifiying is already better than for 1.2, but it's still just a guess, and unlikely to satify everyone. So the trick of letting it justify then adding a spacer will remain very useful to give you control over the spacing of that last line.

Hey guys, I have found a simple solution to this problem: select the section with a lot of tight measures and two or three stretched out, got to Layout, and use Enlarge or Reduce Layout, shortcuts "{" and "}" (the words Enlarge and Reduce may be wrong, English is not my first language, sorry). This way you can distribute the measures between the lines, while maintaining overal justification. Say you have 3 systems with 6, 6, and 2 measures, the last one stretched out; doing as above may change this proportion do 6:5:3, or 5:5:4, or 4:5:5. There you go.

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