Create Simple Vertical Group Names in Finale

Simple Vertical Group Names


I was recently asked to create a score layout that evoked some old Hollywood styles. One of the aspects discussed was a different way of formatting instrument families. Vertical instrument labels can be found on some old manuscript papers but are all but forgotten in today’s computer notation.

Creating vertical staff group labels are easy work in Finale. If you already have staff groups established, as in the excerpt below, it’s just a matter of reformatting the label itself. If you don’t, here’s a brief explanation.

The Flute and Oboe instrument family labels are groups, set up with a thin bracket. The “1” and “2” can either be created as the staff’s name, or a single-staff group, without any kind of bracket. I prefer to use groups for all of the text in this case, because the staff can keep a more useful name than “1” with your parts and file names.


Once your score is set up with the appropriate groups, use the Staff Tool to edit the group’s attributes. Double-click on the Flute label’s handle.


Next click the Edit button following the Full Group Name.


Entering hard-returns after each character of the group name will allow it to display vertically. I prefer an all caps and bold face in this instance.


Next, set the Line Spacing (leading) to taste. It certainly depends on the font, but I prefer somewhere in the 80% range for a typeface like Garamond. Select all of the characters and choose Line Spacing from the Text menu.


Set to your desired line spacing:


Click OK. Now let’s position the label properly. Back in the Group Attributes, click the Full Group Name Position button.


Here you can choose which alignment point you want. These vertical labels should ideally be vertically aligned with other staff names or group labels that are not vertically positioned, i.e., Harp for a uniform clean line down the score.

For this purpose, I like center alignment. Now just set the Horizontal offset needed. This example is in inches.


Click OK and then OK on the Group Attributes dialog box and now you should have a vertically stacked Group name, like this:


Pretty simple, right? This little trick will give your score a unique, old-fashioned look in an era of overly computerized, default-looking files.

About the author:

Jon Senge engraves music for several major music publishers and is the owner of Five Line Productions, a full-service music preparation, engraving, and printing service.

twitter: @fivelinemusic

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