Make a New Instrument or Text Style Available to All Your Scores in Sibelius

In Sibelius, new text styles, line styles, symbols, noteheads, and instruments are available only in the score in which they are first defined. This gives you the flexibility to make custom definitions without affecting existing scores.

You may, however, want to have a new style or instrument appear in another score, or even in all your new scores. Sibelius allows you to export a house style from the score containing the definitions you wish to share, and then import that house style into other scores. Those scores will now contain the new definitions.

You can also import a house style into manuscript paper files, which are used as templates for new scores, and any scores you create that use those manuscript papers will inherit the definitions from the house style.

This article explains how to import a house style into one or more manuscript paper files.

Exporting a house style from a Sibelius score

House styles are collections of document properties.  You can export a house style file containing the properties of a Sibelius score using House Style > Export House Style (Sibelius 6) or Appearance > House Style > Export (Sibelius 7):


When the dialog comes up, give the house style a name appropriate to what you are defining and choose OK. Sibelius will create a file in your user House Styles folder using that name, and after you export the house style, you will see that name in the list of available house styles in House Style > Import House Style (Sibelius 6) or Appearance > House Style > Import (Sibelius 7):


Importing a house style into a Sibelius score

A house style is a collection of many properties, and typically you do not want to import all of the properties if you are importing a style or instrument definition. As a general rule, import as few properties as possible.

If a score already exists, use House Style > Import House Style (Sibelius 6) or Appearance > House Style > Import (Sibelius 7) to import into that score. You can import a house style into a folder of scores using the plugin Batch Processing > Import House Style Into Folder of Scores (on the Home tab in Sibelius 7, or on the Plug-ins menu in Sibelius 6).

If you are importing an instrument or text style only, you will only want to import properties under the heading Instrument definitions, as shown in the red box in the Import House Style dialog above, and you can uncheck all the other boxes.

Observe that Noteheads, Clefs, and Lines are indented below Instrument definitions, and Symbols and Text styles are further indented. What this means is that if you want to import instrument definitions, you will also import all the properties indented below it. For Noteheads, Clefs, and Lines, you will import Symbols and Text styles. For Symbols, you will import Text styles as well.

You will find that if Instrument definitions is checked you will be unable to uncheck any of the boxes indented below it (except for Lines, which seems not to be required in instrument definitions). Similarly, for Noteheads, Clefs, and Lines, Symbols and Text styles must be checked.

One big side effect of this is that text styles are always imported when you change any of the other properties in this block. You should be careful only to import house styles that use the same text styles as the scores you are importing into. For example, you should not define a new instrument in a lead sheet score that uses Inkpen2 as a music font, and then import the house style’s Instrument definitions into a choral score, or you will find that the fonts used for notes and text will have changed (as in the graphic below). 


For the best results when defining instruments or text styles, define what you want in a new empty score, and make as few other changes as possible.

Please note that house styles for parts are different from those for a full score. House styles to be imported into a full score should be exported from a full score, and styles to be imported into parts should be exported from a part.

Importing a house style into a manuscript paper file

If you want a newly defined instrument, such as a Hardanger fiddle, to appear in newly created scores, you will need to import the house style that contains the definition into the manuscript papers in which the definition will appear.

You could do this by creating a score from each manuscript paper you want to change, importing the house style with the instrument definition into the score, and exporting the score as a manuscript paper. There are a few tricks to doing this manually, and these are discussed in the Appendix, below.

Rather than importing manually, you can use the downloadable plugin Import House Style into Manuscript Paper. After installing the plugin and creating the desired house style, run the plugin, and you will see this dialog:


It contains a list of house styles and a list of manuscript papers. Choose the style and paper you want, and click on Options. There you will select the properties you want to import, and when you are done, the manuscript paper (in this example String Orchestra) will be updated to include your instrument definition.

The new manuscript paper file will be stored in your user Manuscript Paper folder.

Run the plugin again for each manuscript paper you wish to update. To test that the import succeeded, create new scores from these modified manuscript papers (in File > New) to be sure that they contain the instrument definition you want, and that they have not imported any properties that you do not want.

That is all you need to do! Your manuscript papers will contain the new instruments and styles, and new files you create will include them too.

Appendix: Some details on house styles and manuscript papers

Two alternate ways to get new definitions into another score

1. Creating a manuscript paper directly from a score

If you want the Hardanger fiddle to appear only in scores created from a new manuscript paper, you can create a new manuscript paper from the score that contains the instrument definition, and not import and export a house style. Starting with a score created, for example, from the String Quartet manuscript paper, with an added instrument definition, use File > Export > Manuscript Paper to save the score as a manuscript paper.

In Sibelius 6, you must save the score with the name you want to see in the list of manuscript papers (String Quartet with Hardanger Fiddle.sib). In Sibelius 7, you name the manuscript paper in the export dialog (the Sibelius 7 Export dialog with the Name field is shown below).



Note that in this example, you did not import or export a house style, but instead created a new manuscript paper. If you are using Sibelius 7, the resulting manuscript paper score will only have 8 bars. See Limitations of Export > Manuscript Paper in Sib 7 if exporting manually below.

2Copying text, lines, notes, or symbols from one score to another

You can copy a piece of text, or a line, or a symbol, or a notehead in one score and paste it to another, and that item’s style will be defined in the score into which it was pasted. You can even delete the pasted object, and the definition will still be transferred. This is often the simplest way to define a text style in another score.

How manuscript papers work in Sibelius

Manuscript papers are simply Sibelius scores that are stored in Manuscript Paper folders. The manuscript papers that are included with Sibelius (the shipping manuscript papers) are stored with the installed Sibelius files, and generally should not be changed or deleted, because it could cause problems if there is a Sibelius update. Make all changes to manuscript papers in the user folders.

If a file in a user Manuscript Paper folder has the same name as a shipping manuscript paper file, Sibelius will use the user copy rather than the shipping copy. This is the mechanism to use if you want to change a shipping house style or manuscript paper. If you delete your user file, Sibelius will revert to using the shipping file.

Saving/exporting a score as manuscript paper

In Sibelius 6, save the score, naming it what you want the manuscript paper to be called, then use File > Export > Manuscript Paper. This will make a copy of the score and place it in your user Manuscript Papers folder. You can then delete the score you have just named and saved.

In Sibelius 7, when you use File > Export > Manuscript Paper, the dialog gives you a place to name the score, so you do not need to save it before exporting.

Limitations of Export > Manuscript Paper in Sib 7 if exporting manually

Sibelius 7 only keeps 8 bars of the score when it is exported as manuscript paper, and removes music and (optionally) text. If you have a manuscript paper that is longer than 8 bars and you wish to keep all the bars and other text and formatting, do not use Export > Manuscript Paper.  Instead, copy the score to the user Manuscript Paper folder, or use the downloadable plugin Export Manuscript Paper Unchanged, which saves the complete score and knows where the user Manuscript Paper folder is.

How to import a house style into a manuscript paper without a plugin

 Create a new score based on the desired manuscript paper.

  1. Import the desired house style into the new score.
  2. Using Export > Manuscript Paper
    1. In Sibelius 6, save the new score, giving the score the name you want to see in the list of manuscript papers. Choose File > Export > Manuscript Paper. You can now delete the score you saved. There will still be a copy of the score in your user Manuscript Paper folder, which will serve as the manuscript paper.
    2. In Sibelius 7, name the manuscript paper in the Export dialog (File > Export > Manuscript Paper) as you export. You will not need to save and delete a copy of the score. You can just close the score you imported the house style into without saving changes.
    3. Saving directly to the user Manuscript Paper file
      1. Use File > Save As and save the score to your user Manuscript Paper folder, giving it the name you want to see in the list of manuscript papers.
      2. If the score had already been saved in a normal score folder, and you do not need it for any other purpose, you can delete that copy, leaving the copy that is in the Manuscript Paper folder.

Location of user manuscript paper and house style files

Here are the folders you can copy manuscript paper and house style files into:


C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Avid\Sibelius 7\House Styles\

C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Avid\Sibelius 7\Manuscript Paper\

C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Sibelius Software\Sibelius 6\House Styles\

C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Sibelius Software\Sibelius 6\Manuscript paper\


~/Library/Application Support/Avid/Sibelius 7/House Styles/

~/Library/Application Support/Avid/Sibelius 7/Manuscript Paper/

~/Library/Application Support/Sibelius Software/Sibelius 6/House Styles/

~/Library/Application Support/Sibelius Software/Sibelius 6/ Manuscript paper/

About the author

Bob Zawalich is a composer, guitarist, and software designer who lives near Seattle, Washington. He has studied both computer science and music, and has written software at Microsoft. Bob has authored several hundred plugins for Sibelius notation software.

3 Replies to “Make a New Instrument or Text Style Available to All Your Scores in Sibelius”

  1. Hi, I am trying to save an edit to “no instrument, barlines shown” that I’ve made that makes my stick notation look cleaner, with larger barlines. When I try to export it as a house style, though, I just end up with a single bar that says “TACET”, and still has a staff. What am I doing wrong?

  2. I have no idea. I doubt it is related to the plugin, though.

    Does it look right in the score when you create it? How about if you save as to another score? TACET is a bit weird – is there nothing else in the score?

    Which version of Sibelius and which OS are you using?

    This is probably something better suited to posting on the Sibelius tech support forum. If you need further help, I suppest posting there with a score that hows the new instrument.

  3. Hello.

    My “~/Library/Application Support/Avid/Sibelius 7/House Styles/” folder appears to be empty! Can you advise on how to delete extraneous House Styles? I would appreciate it. Truly.

    FYI, I am working a MAC OS X, version 10.9.5.

    Many thanks.

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