Instrument Group Names in Sibelius

…a tutorial for creating custom instrument group names in Finale is here.

There are some situations where you might need to show an additional label for a group of instruments in a score; to distinguish between different ensembles of like instruments or on stage or antiphonal instruments, for example:


One can achieve this in Sibelius by manually adding and placing text on each page of the score. However, this approach gets pretty tedious for large scores. The following technique is another method to help you achieve this look quickly and consistently.

First, create a new vertical text style under the Text/Styles attributes menu. The details of this style can be whatever fits the needs of your score. The important thing is to change the angle to 90°.


The next step is to create a line in the Notation/Lines attribute menu. I used the standard line in this case as a starting point. The important features here are a width of 0 (which hides the line itself) and checking the ‘horizontal’ box.


We are going to choose ‘Text’ at the line start and click the ‘Edit…’ button to access the settings we’ll need.


In this dialog we will type in the actual text that is to be used as the group label. Then select the newly created text style (in this case I named it ‘vertical’). It is also very important to deselect the ‘Draw on first system only’ checkbox. This is what will cause it to appear at the start of every page you select.

The spacing values will be unique to the aspects of your project and the text you use. You may need to experiment to find the right values. Bear in mind we are using a negative ‘right’ value to move the text left to the page margin. And a negative ‘up’ value to center the text among the group of staves we are labeling.

To apply the line, select the range of measures you want to attach it to (or triple click the staff to select the whole score) and press ‘L’ to access the line menu. Here you can select the newly created line. You may get the message asking if you want to create it next to hidden objects. Click ‘OK’.


Now you can see that we have a vertical text label at the left of each page for the staff that we selected. Right-click on the text and use the dropdown menu to turn off magnetic layout which ensures that it will not move to avoid other objects on the staff.

Once you see the text, you can go back into the ‘edit text’ window of the line definition to tweak the offset values to achieve the look you want. You may also find that you need to adjust the staff margins for the short names under Layout/Document Setup to allow more room for the label.


If you are using this type of label on a range of pages that includes both full and abbreviated (or no) instrument names, choose a value that fits the shorter names best then manually adjust the few pages with full names by clicking and dragging the text where you would like it. This will not affect the other pages.



It’s worth noting that the line will hide automatically when you hide empty staves, so this technique works best when you have a whole group that will always appear together in the score. If you are labeling a group of instruments that has a changing number of staves (because some instruments play while others are empty and hidden), you may have to add the line manually to certain sections to make sure it is always attached to a visible staff that centers the label correctly.

You may also need to manually adjust some pages to keep the label centered if the number of staves has changed from odd to even. But this is still much quicker and gives more consistent placement than trying to do it as a text object.

Hope this trick helps you save some time!

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