Five tips to improve your workflow in Finale

If you are like me, you’re interested in working more efficiently.
Here are 5 tips to improve your workflow in recent versions of Finale:


Finale supports six+ different units of measurement :

  1. Inches
  2. Centimeters
  3. Points
  4. Picas
  5. Spaces
  6. EVPUs (Enigma Virtual Page Units)

While Millimeters aren’t specifically listed as an available unit of measurement in Finale, you can enter mm values when using Centimeters by simply moving the decimal point to the left (25.4 mm = 2.54 cm). 

You set the measurement unit from Preferences > Measurement Units in the Finale Menu, but that doesn’t mean you always have to think in those units. Some places in Finale, such as the Document Options and Page Format dialogs, have a handy Units popup menu which apply only within that dialog:

But Finale gives you even greater control. You can enter values in any unit of measurement in any numeric field of any dialog by simply adding the first letter of the unit of measurement after the number.

For example, if you need to “think in inches” for a moment, regardless of the current unit of measurement setting, type in “1.75i” (“i” for inches) and Finale will enter the measurement correctly, and convert the number to the current unit of measurement for you.

On the off chance you should ever need to enter a value in picas this way, the shortcut is “p0” (“p” is reserved for “points”.)

.5i, 6s, 144e, 1.27c, 36p, 3p0 are all the same value, just entered differently


It used to be that in Finale, if you wanted divisi stems up / down, you had to enter (or re-enter) each part in as a separate Layer in two passes, or resort to multi-step workarounds. No more. It’s a single step with the freely available JW Explode Layers plugin. And merging two Layers into one is also a single step with JW Merge. Visit the above link, and navigate to Downloads for your OS.


The Contextual Menu for Smart Shapes makes quick work of aligning hairpins, trills and other measure – attached smart lines in your score. For instance, to align trills so their line start and end points match down the score, click and drag-lasso them so their selection boxes are all highlighted, then right – click one of the highlighted selection boxes, and select “Align Vertically” from the Contextual menu.

Note : this tip applies specifically to all measure attached lines, so it can be used with hairpins, trill extensions, ottava lines, bracket lines or custom measure attached smart lines you create.



There is nothing more frustrating than losing your hard work. Finale’s auto backup feature allows you to auto save your work at regular intervals, and also allows you to create a secondary backup file as well.

Found in the Finale menu under Program Options > Save and Print, you can specify the frequency of your file backups, and whether you would also like to make a separate, additional backup whenever the file is saved:

You can specify *where* to auto save your files and your backups separately. You could save your backup files to a separate drive for additional insurance, for instance. Select the Folders item in Program Options to choose locations other than the default:


It’s common practice to include a little extra space between groups of instruments throughout the score. It’s also common to see extra space above staves which are showing tempo or metronome marks. And finally, for vocal scores, a little extra consistent space is typically required for lyrics under vocal staves.

When creating a new score, in the Document Setup Wizard, there is an option to “Add Vertical Space”, which is great for defining a little extra space between specific staves when you are starting a project:

The actual amount of vertical space that is added here is determined by the settings in Finale’s Document Options > Staves dialog. This is also where you can control the default distance between the instrument staves themselves.


But what if I want to adjust vertical positioning of certain staves in an existing score?

In Finale, it’s quite easy to adjust vertical spacing between staves after the fact.  For instance, to adjust the spacing globally for everything in the score, select the Staff Tool, then Select All (CNTRL-A, Windows or CMND-A, Mac). Now, choose Respace Staves from the Staff Menu. Set the “Space Above Each Selected Staff” to whatever looks best to you.

You can also use this dialog to quickly change the vertical spacing between instrument groups throughout a score that has already been created.

If you need to, you can first optionally decrease the distance between all staves globally to give a little extra room for the instrument group separations. Now, on the first page of the score, click to the left edge of the first instrument in a section, so that it is highlighted throughout the score, on every page, then open Respace Staves and increase the distance of this one staff and the staff above it throughout the score, so that there is a new consistent distance between these staves on every page.

As its name  implies, you can also use the “Space Above Each Selected Staff” in Page View to add more vertical space between two staves on one or more specific pages of score . . .

(Note that any staves below the selected staff will also move up or down when adjusting vertical position of a single staff from the Respace Staves dialog).


You can also very easily change the vertical spacing say, between instrument groups throughout a score.

Select the Staff Tool. Now, go to the Staff Menu and make sure that “Show Staff Spacing When Dragging” is checked.

On the first page of the score, click to the left edge of the top instrument in the section, so that it is highlighted throughout the score, on every page. You will see the little selection box highlighted at the beginning of the staff. If you click and hold the mouse button down on the selection box, you should see the the current spacing between the staves in your currently selected unit of measurement. With the mouse button still down, drag the staff up or down to adjust the distance between staves through the score.

You can also highlight the staff on a specific consecutive group of pages or a single page, then drag the staff up or down for that region only.

The drag – selection method has another powerful feature, which is the ability to move any selected staff between two others, without moving any other staves. To do this, hold down the ALT (Windows) or OPT (Mac) modifier key when click-dragging, and only the selected staff will move by itself. Very useful when you need a little extra space on a page of score with a single instrument to clear ledger lines! In this case, highlight only the bars you want to respace vertically.

Note that in Page View, if you don’t make any highlighted selection, only the staves on the current page will be dragged with the mouse.

That’s it! Thanks for subscribing.


8 Replies to “Five tips to improve your workflow in Finale”

  1. “Wow. I never knew you could enter a letter after a number to temporarily change the unit of measurement. Thanks. That may come in handy someday. Even after 20 years of using Finale, I am still learning things about it.”

    via the makemusic forum

  2. “I look upon the backup file as something to use if I accidently do something stupid, so there are always two versions in each folder, current and previous. Having the .ASV on a separate drive is an intriguing idea.”

    via the makemusic forum

  3. “Yes, the changing units of measurement from INSIDE the number field is brilliant, as I pointed out in another post. One keystroke extra. Easy.

    I also didn’t know that measurement units could be specified from individual dialogue boxes. I assumed that once you were in inches, the whole document was in inches. This was great.”

    via the makemusic forum

Leave a Reply to Arthur Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.