Staff/Part properties


    The Staff / Part Properties dialog allows you to make changes to the display of a particular staff; and to adjust the name, tuning, transposition, and instrument of the corresponding instrument part.

    To open the dialog:

    • Right-click onto either an empty area in a staff, or the instrument name, and select Staff / Part Properties….

    An instrument part often consists of only one staff (e.g. violin, trumpet, flute) but there are notable exceptions. For example, a piano requires two staves—treble and bass; a guitar may need both an 8vb treble staff and a tablature staff, and so on.

    Staff properties

    The top section of the dialog allows you to adjust many aspects of the appearance of an individual staff. The following options are common to all types of staves:

    • Lines: The number of lines making up the staff.
    • Line Distance: The distance between two staff lines—measured in spaces (sp.).
      Note: It is not recommended to change this value from the default. If you need to make the staff larger or smaller, use the Page Settings dialog instead.
    • Extra distance above staff: Increases or decreases the distance between the selected staff and the one above in all systems.
      Note: (1) This setting does not apply to the top staff of a system, which is controlled by the minimum/maximum system distance (see Formatting). (2) To adjust the spacing above just one staff line in a particular system, see Fitting systems on a page: Spacers.
    • Scale: Changes the size of the selected staff and all associated elements as a percentage (to adjust the overall score size, use "Scaling" (Format→Page Settings…).
    • Hide when empty: Together with the “Hide empty staves” setting in FormatStyle…Score, this determines if the staff will be hidden when it is empty:
      • Auto (default): The staff will be hidden if it is empty and “Hide empty staves” is set.
      • Always: The staff will be hidden when empty, even if “Hide empty staves” is not set.
      • Never: The staff will never be hidden when empty.
      • Instrument: For instruments containing multiple staves, the staff is hidden only if all staves for that instrument are empty.
    • Show clef: Whether the staff clef will be shown.
    • Show time signature: Whether the staff time signature(s) will be shown or not.
    • Show barlines: Whether the staff barlines will be shown.
    • Hide system barline: Show/hide barline at left-hand edge of the staff.
    • Merge matching rests: Check if you want matching rests in different voices to be merged rather than separate.
    • Do not hide if system is empty: Never hide this staff, even if the entire system is empty. This overrules any “Hide empty staves” setting in FormatStyle…Score.
    • Small staff: Create a reduced-size staff. You can set the default from the menu in FormatStyle…Sizes.
    • Invisible staff lines: Make staff lines invisible.
    • Staff line color: Use a color picker to change the color of the staff lines.
    • Cutaway: Used to create a cutaway staff in which only measures containing notes are visible (e.g. Ossia (Wikipedia); or cutaway scores). This can be used independently of “Hide when empty” or “Hide empty staves”.
    • Advanced style properties: (see below)

    Advanced style properties

    Clicking on Advanced Style Properties… opens a dialog giving access to advanced display options for the staff. These options will vary depending on the staff type chosen.

    Template (all staves)

    At the bottom of the Advanced Style Properties dialog there are a number of buttons which allow you to make changes to the staff display by selecting a different template.

    Note: The options available here depend on the type of staff—whether standard, plucked-string staff/tab, or percussion.

    To change the template:

    1. Make a selection from the drop-down list labeled “Template”;
    2. Press < Reset to Template;
    3. Press OK to accept the changes and exit the dialog (or Cancel to cancel the operation).

    Standard and Percussion staff options only

    • Lines / Line distance:
    • Show clef / time signature / barlines / key signature / ledger lines: Set to give the desired display on the staff.
    • Stemless: If checked, staff notes will have no stem, hook or beam.
    • Notehead scheme: See Notehead scheme.

    Tablature options only

    • Lines: This number usually matches the number of strings in the String Data dialog (exceptions being the Baroque Lute, Theorbo etc. which have more strings than lines).
      Line distance:
    • Show clef / time signature / barlines: Set to give the desired display on the staff.
    • Upside down: If not checked, the top tablature line will refer to the highest string, and the bottom tablature line to the lowest string (this is the most common option). If checked, the top tablature line refers to the lowest string, and the bottom tablature line to the highest line (e.g. Italian-style lute tablatures).
    • Preview: Displays a short section of a specimen score as it would look with the current properties applied.

    Fret Marks tab

    Fret marks are the numbers or letters used to indicate the location of notes on the fingerboard. The following group of properties define the appearance of fret marks:

    • Font: The font used to draw fret marks. A selection of eight fonts are provided supporting all the necessary symbols in 8 different styles—both modern and historic..
    • Size: Font size of fret marks in typographic points. Built-in fonts usually look good at a size of 9-10pt.
    • Vertical offset: MuseScore tries to place symbols in a sensible way and you do not usually need to alter this value (set to 0) for built-in fonts. If the font has symbols not aligned on the base line (or in some other way MuseScore does not expect), this property allows you to move fret-marks up (negative offsets) or down (positive offsets) for better vertical positioning. Values are in sp.
    • Marks are: Select from using Numbers (“1”, “2”…) or Letters (“a”, “b”…) as fret marks. When letters are used, the letter “j” is skipped and “k” is used for the 9th fret.
    • Marks are drawn: Choice of placing fretmarks On lines or Above lines.
    • Lines are: Choice of Continuous (lines pass through fret marks) or Broken (a small space appears in the line where the fretmark is displayed).
    • Show back-tied fret marks: If unchecked, only the first note in a series of tied notes is displayed. If ticked, all notes in the tied series are displayed.
    • Show fingering in tablature: Check to allow the display of fingering symbols applied from a palette.

    Note Values tab

    This group of properties defines the appearance of the symbols indicating note values.

    • Font: The font used to draw the value symbols. Currently 5 fonts are provided supporting all the necessary symbols in 5 different styles (modern, Italian tablature, French tablature, French baroque (headless), French baroque). Used only with the Note symbols option.
    • Size: Font size, in typographic points. Built-in fonts usually look good at a size of 15pt. Used only with the Note symbols option.
    • Vertical offset: Applies only when Note symbols is selected (see below). Use negative offset values to raise the note value symbols, positive values to lower them.
    • Shown as:
      • None: No note value will be drawn (as in the examples above)
      • Note symbols: Symbols in the shape of notes will be drawn above the staff. When this option is selected, symbols are drawn only when the note value changes, without being repeated (by default) for a sequence of notes all of the same value.
      • Stems and beams: Note stems and beams (or hooks) will be drawn. Values are indicated for each note, using the same typographic mechanics as for a regular staff; all commands of the standard Beam Palette can be applied to these beams too.
    • Repeat: If several notes in sequence have the same duration, you can specify if and where to repeat the same note symbol. i.e. Never / At new system / At new measure /Always.
      Note: This option is only available if “Shown as: Note symbols” is selected (see above).
    • Stem style:
      • Beside staff: Stems are drawn as fixed height lines above/below the staff.
      • Through staff: Stems run through the staff to reach the fret marks.
        Note: This option is only available when “Shown as: Stems and Beams” is selected (see above).
    • Stem position:
      • Above: Stems and beams are drawn above the staff.
      • Below: Stems and beams are drawn below the staff.
        Note: This option is only available when “Shown as: Stems and Beams” and “Stem style: Beside staff” is selected (see above).
    • Half notes: None / As short stems / As slashed stems.
      Note: This option is only available when “Shown as: Stems and Beams and “Stem style: Beside staff” is selected (see above).
    • Show rests; Whether note symbols should be used to indicate also the rests; when used for rests, note symbols are drawn at a slightly lower position. Used only with the Note symbols option.

    Part properties


    The name of the instrument is shown here. To change the instrument,

    • Click on Replace instrument and make a choice from the "Select Instrument" dialog.


    • Long instrument name: Name displayed to the left of the staff in the first system of the score or section.
    • Short instrument name: Name displayed to the left of the staff in subsequent systems of the score.

    Usable pitch range

    • Amateur: Notes outside the amateur range are colored olive green / dark yellow in the score.
    • Professional: Notes outside the professional range are colored red in the score.

    Note: To disable out-of-range coloration of notes, from the menu, select EditPreferences… (Mac: MuseScorePreferences…), click on the “Note Input” tab, and uncheck “Color notes outside of usable pitch range.”


    Set the octave, and up/down interval to ensure that transposing instruments are notated correctly. This is automatically done by the program for most instruments.

    For transposing instruments an additional option is shown: "Prefer sharps or flats for transposed key signatures". There are three options:

    • Default: Let MuseScore decide
    • Flats: Prefer flats
    • Sharps: Prefer sharps

    Strings and frets

    Staves of fretted, plucked-string instruments have a few extra options in addition to those listed above,

    • Number of strings: Displays the number of instrument strings.
    • Edit String Data…: This button opens a dialog box which allows you to set the number and tuning of strings. See Change tuning.