Instrument Change Text & Other Specialty Purpose Text Styles in Sibelius

Q: I would like to convert all Instrument Change text to Boxed Text in a finished score in Sibelius 7. This would be useful in percussion parts where the player changes instruments quite often, from a Tam to a Suspended Cymbal to Castanets and so on.

Usually, changing a text style to another is done by first filter – selecting all occurrences of a specific text style, then selecting a new text style to change all of the selected text globally. However I can’t get it to work as I wish. What am I missing?


A: Normally, when you have a Text Style in Sibelius, you can simply convert it to another type of text, as long as it is the same category of text (e.g. System text can be converted to any other System Text Style, Staff Text to any other Staff Text Style). So, for instance, if you wanted to change some selected Technique text to Small text or Tiny text you could do it.

However, certain types of text are reserved by Sibelius and are actually a unique  category of text that is neither standard System or Staff attached text. These can’t be changed to a different Text Style (at least, not as a batch operation by filtering). For instance, bar numbers, page numbers and rehearsal marks are special types of system text that can’t be modified to be any other text style. You might notice this with lyrics, too. You can change a lyric to be a different verse such as Line X, but you can’t change it to be Expression text etc.

Along the same lines, Instrument Changes *appear* to be a standard type of staff text, but they don’t behave like a normal Staff Attached Text Style in many ways. One of the differences is that you can’t use the Advanced Filter to select multiple occurrences of Instrument Changes to change their text style.

If you select the text for an individual Instrument Change, you’ll discover that you can convert Instrument Change text to certain other types of text, but not others. For instance, you could change an Instrument Change’s Text Style to Instrument Change announcements or Instrument Name Cues, but you can’t simply choose any text style and change it to any other.

Sibelius 7 clarifies the available options a great deal by showing you only the text styles you can change to in its filtered list in the Format section of the Text Tab. Here, you see the possible text styles that are available when you select an individual Instrument Change’s text label. You could choose Boxed Text for instance, which is one of the available Text Styles for Instrument Changes.

As you can see, both Sibelius 6 and Sibelius 7 allow you to change the label of an individual Instrument Change to a different Text Style such as Boxed Text (without affecting the Instrument Change itself.)

Unfortunately in both Sibelius 6 and Sibelius 7, you can’t use the Filter to select all occurrences of the Instrument Change text style and change every Instrument Change’s Text Style globally to something like Boxed Text. You can, however CTRL-Click (Windows) or CMND-Click individual text labels for these instrument changes and change a group of selected text to Boxed Text.

If you go to a part view, or use focus on staves, you might be able to see all instrument changes on a page or two, where you can click – select them all at once and change them as a group.

While we are on the subject of Instrument Changes, I wanted to mention my technique creating Instrument Changes in Sibelius. I use a combination of the Instrument Change text style AND the Boxed Text style in order for the upcoming instrument name to appear as early as possible in the score.

I assign the Instrument Change right at the point where the Instrument Change Announcement would be, then hide this label text (sometimes I abbreviate the name here to so things aren’t so cluttered). This allows the score to show the upcoming instrument on subsequent pages before the actual entrance, which is handy, and some would say, correct. It also retains playback integrity (which Boxed Text without instrument changes won’t do). The Instrument Change Announcement also appears in that same bar as it normally would, but is kept visible.

I then use standard Boxed Text to show the instrument name at the point of the actual entrance. I’ve assigned shortcuts to both the instrument change and to the boxed text, so they can be entered quickly.

Most times, for the work I do, I’m not as concerned about playback as I am with the visible score, so for me, when dealing with multiple percussion instruments, I can add boxed text without worrying about the staff becoming something other than a 5 line staff. I can always assign specific instruments for playback in the Instrument Definition if I require correct playback.

By the way, at least for converting *standard* System Text styles to *standard* Staff Text styles or visa-versa, there is a reasonably priced pair of text conversion plugins by Roman Molino Dunn called Convert Staff Text To System Text and Convert System Text To Staff Text which are both very useful.


for Ingvar Karkoff

4 Replies to “Instrument Change Text & Other Specialty Purpose Text Styles in Sibelius”

  1. Thank you Robert! As always…

    It was also very useful to know how you deal with the instrument changes. I will try the same approach as you describe in this article.


  2. Very useful Robert!

    Filters almost always work in what Sibelius calls Bar Objects, and there are System Text, Text, and Lyric objects, which account for the majority of the text in a score. As you mention, one can change text styles within the group, but not across groups, so you cannot give a Lyrics style to a System text object, though plugins , such as Roman’s can sometimes fake it.

    Instrument Change text and the text in Rehearsal Marks, Chord Symbols, Instrumwent Names and others are not separate Bar Objects, but rather properties of a Bar Object, such as a Rehearsal Mark object. Sometimes Sibelius lets you select these separately (as you can select note articulations and ties), but you typically cannot filter them.

    Plugins can be written for specific conversion. I have one on the free download page called Lyrics To Expression Text (category Text) that was written for someone who got scores where all the expressions were written in Lyrics text style. This cannot be filtered and changed, but a plugin is capable of finding such text, deleting the text, and then adding back the same text in a different style.

    This may well be more than you wanted to know…

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