Create Drop Shadow Enclosures for Rehearsal Marks in Finale

In graphic design, a drop shadow is a visual effect consisting of a drawing element which looks like the shadow of an object, giving the impression that the object is raised above the objects behind it.

The “Reprise Rehearsal” font for Sibelius automatically provides this effect with a handwritten look:


“Finale Copyist Text”, “Broadway Copyist Text” and “Jazz Text” are handwritten look fonts from MakeMusic that provide a way to bracket text, although this is not technically “drop shadow”. See this related article.

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Adjusting Tracking, aka Letter-Spacing in Finale & Sibelius

Q: Is it possible to make title text appear more “expanded” (as I might do in a Word doc?) My client has a specific font request, but his letter spacing looks wider than the same font on my computer, which is more “tight”: title-text-w-tracking A: This difference is due to letter-spacing, referred to as “Tracking” in typography. Tracking refers to a consistent degree of increase (or sometimes decrease) of space between letters to affect density in a line or block of text. more >>

Finale Quick Tip : Number Beats for Rhythmic Exercises

If you are a music educator teaching the fundamentals of rhythm, from time to time, you may find the need to count out beat numbers over the notation to help indicate various rhythms for your students.

Sibelius has a useful plugin called “Number Beats” (found in the plugins Text category) which does this automatically, but until recently, I wasn’t aware of a similar  plugin for Finale.

The JW Pattern pluginmac | windows ) will do the job nicely in more recent versions of Finale:

  1. Select a region
  2. Choose JW Pattern
  3. Drop-down the Sequences category
  4. Choose the “Numbered Steps” task.
  5. For “Step Method”, choose Beats in measure”



Finally, you can choose one of Finale’s Text Categories from the Category drop down to control the text style and placement of the resulting text.

The JW Pattern plugin is available free of charge on Jari Williamsson’s website.

Thanks to my friend and colleague Gary Gibson for contributing this tip.


Change Stubborn Text in Finale Quickly, Easily & Globally with Finale Script

In “Finale Text Sized, Placed & Styled – Document Options & the Category Designer, we looked at how we can set up a Finale document’s overall font choices using the Document Options > Fonts and the Category Designer.

Changes to the Category Designer and Set Default Music Font affect your score in real time; however, some of the text objects in Document Options > Fonts can only be set prior to starting work on your score; problematic if your score is already completed, or you need to update your House Style after the fact.

So, since some of the Document Settings don’t update in real time in Finale, how do we change the font settings for text types such as Lyrics*, Measure Numbers*, Staff Names* and Text Blocks* which we have already entered?

This is where writing a few short lines of Finale Script can help you. Wait! You don’t have to be a computer programmer. It’s really simple, I promise. And it will save you hours of work over time with minimal effort up front.

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Finale Text Sized, Placed & Styled – Document Options & the Category Designer

There are two main requirements for managing Text in any notation program. First, we want to be able to define in advance how the musical and text elements will look, so that our score is following the same appearance rules throughout. This is part of what music publishers refer to as a “House Style”.  Secondly, we need to be able to “break the rules” easily for special cases (for instance, if the title is to be in an ornate font where text is otherwise a more standard serif or san-serif font.)

For existing scores, knowing how to set up defaults for Text in Finale will also help us quickly locate  font, size and attribute information about a particular string of text, and quickly make changes, if needed.


Initially, there are two main locations where we define Text in Finale. The first of these is found in Document Options > Fonts, and is the place where we determine the exact “look” of the music notation itself, as well as the default font, size and font attributes for some other Finale text.

The second “default setup” area for text is Finale’s Category Designer, where we choose the font, size, style and location of all instructional text for the piece associated with staves or systems. These categories include Dynamics, Expressions, Techniques, Tempo and Rehearsal Marks etc. Let’s take a look …

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Creating Fractions & Other Symbols in Finale & Sibelius using Unicode

noun /ˈyo͞oniˌkōd/

An international encoding standard for use with different languages and scripts, by which each letter, digit, or symbol is assigned a unique numeric value that applies across different platforms and programs.

More recent versions of Finale and Sibelius both feature Unicode font support. Among other things, this means a number of new symbols useful for music notation are now readily available in addition to the 256 “regular” characters we’ve always had access to. This cross – application Unicode support represents an important step for digital music preparation, as we not only have access to the comprehensive set of accented and diacritical characters used in Latin based languages, but we can now enter the text and symbols for titles, credits, lyrics and directives in non-Latin based languages such as Russian and Chinese.

One useful type of symbol sometimes used in music scores not built in to the Sibelius Word Menus or the Finale Expressions Selection Dialog in Finale are fractions.  Without Unicode, fractions need to be displayed as two numbers with a slash between them, e.g. “1/2”. Directives such as “½ section trem.” or “Slow ¼ tone bends” or “trill ½” appear frequently in modern scores, for instance, so it is great to finally be able to display these properly and easily in both Finale and Sibelius.

On the PC, you should be able to type the most common fractions directly into either Sibelius 7 or later or Finale 2012 or later using ALT codes. Hold down the ALT key, type 0188 on the numeric keypad, and then release the ALT key to insert the symbol ¼. To insert the symbol ½, use the character code 0189. To insert the symbol ¾, use 0190.

Unfortunately, there are no designated keystrokes for fractions on a Mac, and if you are like me, you may have trouble remembering obscure ALT codes, anyway.

The good news is that with Unicode support, you now can simply copy and paste these characters into your music, and recall them again quickly at any time. It just takes a couple of minutes to set up, and from then on, they’ll always be there when you need them.

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