Boxing Clever : Handwritten Font Enclosures for Music Notation

The Finale Copyist Text, Broadway Copyist Text and Jazz Text fonts by MakeMusic work with a variety of music scoring programs, including Finale and Sibelius. These fonts include the ability to surround text with handwritten looking boxes. To do this, special enclosure characters are available as part of the character set; a nice touch.

(use the regular, not extended versions of these music text fonts for this).

Finale Copyist Text and Broadway Copyist Text have a cool preassembled box which works really great with single numbers or letters. Simply type the tilde ~ character first, followed by a single digit or letter. They look like this:

For longer text strings, you could use standard open and closed bracket shapes. The main bracket shapes [ and ] produce just what you would expect. Shift-Open-Bracket and Shift-Closed-Bracket { and } produce a wider version of the open and closed bracket character.

However, if you just type either lower case or shifted open bracket followed by two or more letters or numbers and a closed bracket, you’ll see a separation of the enclosure:


For multiple letters or numbers, there is a special closing bracket character in these fonts which sits a little further left and runs the enclosure lines back under the rightmost letter or number to address this issue. On Mac, the keystroke to produce this character is Option-Shift-C. According to the character maps below, the keystroke is ALT 0130 on Windows.

For your reference, here are the character sets for these three music text fonts on both the Mac and Windows platforms:

For two characters, use a normal wider opening bracket {, but after the second letter or number, use the special right bracket character as above. From left to right, Broadway Copyist Text, Finale Copyist Text and Jazz Text look like this:


When you get to three or more characters, you’ll also get good results, although the keystroke sequence for Jazz Text font is slightly different than for Finale Copyist Text and Broadway Copyist Text (see below).

The trick to getting these to work is to insert a special character between each number or letter (except the last 2, which extends the enclosure lines over the middle letters in the text string. We’ll cover this a moment). The results look like this:


The Mac keystrokes to enter this extender character provide us with a little analogy for how they work for both Mac and Windows. For instance, when using Finale Copyist Text or Broadway Copyist Text on Mac, the keystroke sequence to produce the above looks like this in regular text:


Notice that middle “Å” with the diacritical marking over it? Have you ever created foreign letters like the “Å” above or ü or é on your computer? To create letters with these diacritical marks on Mac, you first type a special keystroke that initially doesn’t appear to do anything.

However,  these special keystrokes in advance of typing a vowel or consonant tells the OS to produce a version of the letter containing that mark. When you type the next “real” letter, the diacritical symbol you entered just prior appears directly over (or under) the letter.

Enclosure extensions are a similar workflow sequence. Of course, instead of a diacritical mark, the enclosure extension is entered in advance. When entered, horizontal extension lines appear above and below the next letter or number you type.

For example, to create a boxed version of rehearsal mark H23, you would type

  1. the longer opening bracket character { Shift-Left-Bracket
  2. the letter H
  3. Modifier keystroke OPTION-SHIFT-A (Mac) or ALT 0129 (Windows) sets the enclosure extender over and under the next letter or number entered.
  4. the number 2
  5. the number 3
  6. the longer closing bracket character } Shift-Right-Bracket

For the Jazz Text font, it’s even easier. Type:

  1. the longer opening bracket character { Shift-Left-Bracket
  2. the letter H
  3. the number 2
  4. the number 3
  5. the alternate right bracket character which runs the enclosure lines back under the text (this is Option-Shift-C on Mac, or ALT 0130 on Windows)

For even more flexibility, there are two different versions of the enclosure extension character of different widths. Since certain letters of the alphabet are wider than others, this is a nice addition to the fonts which allows more flexibility when typing. Here is what they look like, by them selves and when paired with letters or numbers:


The following keystroke sequences in Broadway Copyist Text produces the four examples above:

  1. Option-Shift-A (Mac) or Alt 0129 (Windows) = the wider enclosure extender
  2. Shift-Backslash (| = narrower enclosure extender)
  3. Shift-Backslash H (produces H with the narrower extender)
  4. Option-Shift-A (Mac) 2 3 or Alt 0129 (Windows) 2 3 = the wider extender enclosing the number 23)

Longer words can be boxed by adding the special box extension prior to every other letter or number:

Note that the last two numbers don’t need the box extension character between them.

Boxed text like this can add visual interest and clarity to your charts. I hope you will take advantage of these excellent music text fonts from MakeMusic.


for Rick Schwartz

3 Replies to “Boxing Clever : Handwritten Font Enclosures for Music Notation”

    1. Which program are you using, Finale or Sibelius? In Finale, it is possible to add prefix and suffix characters to bar numbers. In Sibelius you can add either a prefix or suffix character to your bar numbers, but not both at the same time.

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