Finale : Automated Bar Numbers & Instrument Family Group Brackets

Q: We just came across something that seems to be a major annoyance in Finale. We had never run into it before because we usually start from a Document Style with the Setup Wizard, rather than creating a template from an existing file.

It seems that when you add, delete, or change an instrument from the Score Manager, it resets staff attributes for a bunch of staves all at once. For example, our templates were set to only display measure numbers over the first Violins in the score, but on making any change it resets the attributes of the first staff in each instrument choir, so all of a sudden we have huge measure numbers all over the page, and redundant grand staff braces and / or brackets are created.

I wanted to ask you if you’d encountered this issue before, and if there’s a solution.

A: MakeMusic introduced a new Program Options feature in Finale 2012 and later, designed to help automate workflow for bar numbering and instrument groups in new scores. (cool, huh?) However, depending on your workflow and settings, you may experience some undesirable side effects when updating or reordering the instrumentation, particularly when working in older, existing Finale scores.

In Finale 2011, the Edit Pane of the Program Options features a “Music Spacing and Update Layout” section, which handles the automation of Music Spacing, Update Layout and Reflow Systems Across Pages:


Starting with Finale 2012, this section of the Program Options Edit Pane was renamed “Automatic Settings”, and to the original three layout automation settings, two new items were added; “Automatic Instrument Family Group Brackets” and “Automatic Instrument Family Measure Numbers & Endings & Text Repeats”:


The Finale User Manual Manual describes Automatic Instrument Family Group Brackets this way: “Finale automatically creates group brackets for instrument families when you create new documents with the Setup Wizard, and also updates groups when you add, remove, or change the instrumentation with the ScoreManager. If you would like to define all groups manually, you can disable automatic group updating by unchecking “Automatic Instrument Family Group Brackets” in Preferences-Edit.”

Automatic Instrument Family Measure Numbers & Endings & Text Repeats option automatically shows measure numbers and repeat endings and its associated text on the top staff of instrument families. If you reorder or delete one or more of your grouped staves, Finale automatically sets the (new) top staff of that instrument choir to show measure numbers, as well as endings and text repeats.

It’s great when it works; however, the results of Automatic Instrument Family Measure Numbers… appears to be dependent on global measure number definitions, and possibly other factors. For instance, with a commercial House Style setting where bar numbers are shown on every bar under the bottom staff of the score and nowhere else, it is quite possible to add or reorder an instrument only to have your score suddenly propagate with bar numbers everywhere, as you state above.

Fortunately, since this automation feature was introduced as two checkboxes in Program Options > Edit > Automatic Settings, it’s easy to turn off (disable) as stated above, if it is producing undesirable results in a particular score.

That’s all there is to it.


for the students of the Pacific N.W. Film Scoring program.

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