Create your own keyboard shortcuts in Sibelius

Keyboard shortcuts can greatly increase your productivity in Sibelius. Shortcuts allow you to quickly invoke Plugins or other functions with a single keystroke. Keyboard Shortcuts are totally customizable in Sibelius.

Keyboard Shortcuts are located in Sibelius Preferences.  Choose Preferences… from the Sibelius menu

or navigate to the File Tab and choose Preferences in the left pane:

You can also open the Preferences dialog directly using the pre-defined keyboard shortcut CMND-Comma (Mac) or CNTRL-Comma (Windows).

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How to Create Colored Barlines in Sibelius

Q: How can I assign a color to an individual barline? If I try, Sibelius tells me these objects can’t be colored.

A: While ordinary barlines can’t be colored, there is an easy way to do this; by first changing it into a special barline.  Select the barline you want to color, then, in Sibelius 7 or later, locate the Barlines Group in the Common section of the Notations Tab.

If it is a “normal” barline, when you select Normal, it will remain visibly the same; however, making it a Special Barline will allow you to color it with the shortcut CNTRL-J Windows / CMND-J Mac.

Caution: prior to Sibelius v8.7.2, all Special Barlines split multirests in parts.


Karin Vadon is a classically trained musician, singer-songwriter and music copyist from Vienna, Austria who authors a german-language music notation blog for Sibelius and Dorico users.

Controlling Page Number Visibility in Sibelius

Q: Can I delete or hide the page numbers Sibelius creates by default?

A: Page numbers in Sibelius are a special type of Text Style which cannot be selected directly.

As such, they cannot be hidden or removed in the “normal” way, e.g. selected and deleted like other “System”text  – for example, Tempo mark or a regular Header or Footer. (You might wish to hide page numbers when creating a worksheet, for example.)

They can easily be hidden, however. In Sibelius 7 and later, choose “Page Number Change” in the Numbering group of the Text tab and then select “Hide page numbers”:

In Sibelius 6, this dialog is found in Create > Other > Page Number Change.


Karin Vadon is a classically trained musician, singer-songwriter and music copyist from Vienna, Austria who authors a german-language music notation blog for Sibelius and Dorico users.

Adding ties to chords of different durations in Sibelius

Q: When I input a chord (say, C-E-G) and then hit enter to tie it to the next chord, it USUALLY works fine. The big exception is when I enter the C-E-G chord, then press the dot to add dotted rhythm, and THEN hit enter to add a tie. In that case it ONLY adds a tie to the bottom note of the chord. Is this a feature or a bug, or am I doing the workflow wrong?

A: It’s a great question. In this particular situation, you are getting caught by the Escape key feature in Sibelius which normally allows you to “walk back“ out of any type of edit.

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String Numbers for Notes on Notation Staves in Sibelius

Some educational materials color or mark the strings on which notes appear for a stringed instrument. This document describes how string numbering can be used with plugins in Sibelius scores.

For notation staves there is no user indication as to which strings a note is assigned. Plugins can access string number for notes, but only if the notes had been copied to a Tablature (Tab) staff and copied back.

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Is Music Preparation Part of Your Required Curriculum for College?

I recently heard from my old friend and colleague Sean McMahon.  He and I go way back; we worked together on more than a few hectic feature film score schedules back in the day.  Sean is currently on the faculty at Berkelee College of Music in Boston, and wanted to get my perspective on music preparation at the college level. I thought I would share our correspondence here.

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