Auto centering staves vertically on page

• Nov 14, 2017 - 05:33

By default, staves are not vertically centered on the page.
The distance between the top of the highest staff and the top of the page is less than the distance between the bottom of the lowest staff and the bottom of the page.

  1. Is there a way to auto center the staves vertically on the page?

  2. What are some typical reasons for not having the staves vertically centered?


In reply to by Patricio_S

You can set your own defaults for top and bottom margin, in a couple of different ways. Easiest and most appropriate would be to create a score set up the way you want then save it to your Templates folder. Then you can create future scores starting from that template instead of from the default piano template. Or, if you are really sure you want this not just for piano music but for all scores, you can set up a sample score as before, use Style / Save Style to save a style file, then specify that as your default in Edit / Preferences / Score.

Note however that this does not center staves - it your music has only one staff, it will still be at the top of the page just as it should be. But if your page is full, it will appear centered.

Note though that there are many different reasons why margins might differ. Some editions place page numbers at top, others at bottom. Some leave room for notes in the bottom margin. And so on. There is not really a one-size-fits-all answer here.

So the answers are
1) no, not automatically.
2) is there any reason to have this? Any major publisher, any score writing application, that does this?

In reply to by Jojo-Schmitz

Thanks Jojo-Schmitz.

I am not sure if any score writing application does this.

However, I am currently arranging some piano music and thought the default distances from the staves to the top and bottom of the page looked odd.

So I took some approximate measurements -
Most professional piano scores I checked had spaces at the tops and bottoms of pages that are equal or close to equal, while a few others had about 25% more space at the bottoms of the page than the top.
By default, Musescore leaves about 50% more space at the bottom of the page than the top of the page (for piano scores).

I cannot find any notation guides in regards to how much space to leave.
I am hopeful that some of the extremely knowledgeable people here may give some further advice.

In reply to by Patricio_S

I think you are confusing two different things here:

1) If your page is basically full - meaning there are enough staves on the page for it to be worth stretching the distance between systems out to put the last system at that bottom of the page - then indeed, you would expec t the top and bottom margin top be close to the same. Most publishers will do this, and MuseScore does this too. The key here is, the top margin does not vary from page to page - it is virtually always the same. So there is no "centering" that takes place, it's more a case of filling to the bottom margin.

2) If, however, your page is not close to full - like, say a piece for piano with only one system of music (two staves) on it, or a lead sheet for a 12-bar blues with only three lines of music - then no publisher I have ever seen would center this on the page. It would invariably go to the top of the page, with a large space underneath. And again, this is exactly what MuseScore does.

So it seems to me you have a score that is not close to full, but you are expecting it to be treated as if it were close to full (and thus having the systems stretched to fill to the bottom margin. If you think it is close enough that it should be stretched but isn't, go to Style / General / Page and up the "Max system distance" and MuseScore will happily stretch all the way to the bottom margin, thus producing the desired effect.

If you attach your actual score we can advise better.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks Marc, your detailed responses are most appreciated.

1) If most publishers have the top and bottom margins close to the same then why are Musescore's default margins set to 10mm and 20mm?

This means that when fully stretched to the margins the staves will not be vertically centered.
(I know that page numbers default to the bottom of the page but these margins still seem excessive compared to what I have seen in published music.)

Why wouldn't the default margins be 15mm and 15mm?

In reply to by Patricio_S

I was only explaining the difference in the margins. You can change them.

There was a recent discussion where I lamented the fact you can set min and max distance between systems, but not between staves. This would make it much easier to center systems on a page, which it what you are asking for. 3.0 is not yet finished, so I'm not sure if there will be something that will help with this or not. This won't happen before 3.0 though.

In reply to by Patricio_S

I don't know anything about the technical guidelines for spacing a score, I just know what looks right after seeing a lot of scores. A piano score makes this easier.

One thing you can do for now it use the style->general... menu and increase the max distance between systems*. This will assist in the automatic centering of a piano score on a page. If you don't pick too large or small a number, it will make it look more even. The only problem is that the final page will look odd if it is not sufficiently filled with systems. There is no way to work around this except to make the max system space smaller for every page.

As an alternative to changing the max system distance, you can do the math to determine what the distance between systems should be on each page. Insert spacers between each system and select all of them and change them all to the same spacing at once in the inspector. There are two methods to select all of the ones you want to change, click one spacer then ctrl+click each of the others you want to adjust. The alternative is to right click one then chose select>... then either all, all in a selection area or more... to select specific ones. I don't think the more... option will be very useful, but I don't have a good score to test it on - you do.

  • To MuseScore, a system is the measures for all of the instruments (including only 1 instrument) that will fit on a page before a new line is made for the next measure. So every grand staff line of piano music is a new system.

In reply to by Patricio_S

10mm and 20mm are close to the same as I see it - only 10mm difference :-). Which is to say, at first place, the content appears more or less centered on the page. So I was agreeing with you that music often appears centered, even if it is actually 10mm or so off. As I mentioned, depending on the specifics of the score, one margin may need to be larger to accommodate markings above or below the staff, or for page numbers (which can go on top or bottom depending on the context), copyright info, other information, etc.

In short, every score is different. If you are looking at books containing piano music for reference, you are only looking at a small subset of the music in the world. You also need to look at individual piece of sheet music, at piano parts in ensemble music, at music for other instruments and other types of ensemble, etc. And what you'll find is that margins are all over the place - there simply is no one true standard.

If the defaults margins don't work for your particular score, feel free to change them as has been described. But I wouldn't assume that what works best for you is what works best for everyone. No matter what defaults are chosen, a lot of people will have reason to override them.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

Thanks Marc, that really helps.

I am only considering piano scores for this discussion.

Yes 10mm is close, but 2.3mm is closer!
What is 2.3mm? That is the average difference between the top and bottom distance from the staves to the edge of the page in the 11-page (ignoring the title page) Urtext edition of Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 1 in C KV279.
Other scores I have checked have similar average differences.

I have also noticed that 95% of piano scores have page numbers at the top of the page.
Why then does Musescore put page numbers at the bottom of the page in the piano template?
I know it is easily changed and you say there are no true standards, but 95% seems fairly standard to me.
These are mainly classical pieces I have looked at, so perhaps scores for other piano styles will differ.

In reply to by Patricio_S

It is worth mentioning that Musescore envisages the copy right notice in the footer in the middle of all page bottoms. This I think is the reason for the 10 extra Millimeters in the bottom. If your comparison is with older sheet music: These often do not have a copyright note there. I agree: If you don't have a copyright note you can use those 10mm for music and make the bottom margin 10mm like the top.

In reply to by Patricio_S

I assume you are actually looking mostly at books containing piano music. Indeed page numbers on top is more common in that format. So if you are planning on producing a book, that would be a good reason to alter the defaults. I guess the assumption is most people aren't doing that.

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