Finale Text Sized, Placed & Styled – Document Options & the Category Designer

There are two main requirements for managing Text in any notation program. First, we want to be able to define in advance how the musical and text elements will look, so that our score is following the same appearance rules throughout. This is part of what music publishers refer to as a “House Style”.  Secondly, we need to be able to “break the rules” easily for special cases (for instance, if the title is to be in an ornate font where text is otherwise a more standard serif or san-serif font.)

For existing scores, knowing how to set up defaults for Text in Finale will also help us quickly locate  font, size and attribute information about a particular string of text, and quickly make changes, if needed.


Initially, there are two main locations where we define Text in Finale. The first of these is found in Document Options > Fonts, and is the place where we determine the exact “look” of the music notation itself, as well as the default font, size and font attributes for some other Finale text.

The second “default setup” area for text is Finale’s Category Designer, where we choose the font, size, style and location of all instructional text for the piece associated with staves or systems. These categories include Dynamics, Expressions, Techniques, Tempo and Rehearsal Marks etc. Let’s take a look …

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Center Grand Pause (G.P. & other text) in Sibelius – Lines Method

Sometimes, such as when displaying “G.P.” text in an empty bar of score, it is desirable to be able to center the text between the barlines. While Sibelius doesn’t explicitly offer a “center text between barlines” feature when inputting  text, the ability to center any string of text attached to a Line makes this “centered in bar” justification possible.

In “Centering Grand Pause (G.P.) text in Sibelius – Symbols Method“, we covered a method of centering Grand Pause (G.P.) text using Symbols.

Sibelius has a “Centered Text” feature built into its Edit Lines dialog. You can immediately see this in action:

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Finale Tip : Quickly Delete Duplicate Unison Notes in the Same Layer

Jack Butler: “Gonna rip these walls out and, uh, of course re-wire it.”
Ron Richardson: “Yeah, you gonna make it all 220?”
Jack Butler: “Yeah, 220, 221. Whatever it takes.”

from “Mr. Mom”, 1983 

Sometimes, after certain editing operations, or when importing a midi file, you’ll wind up with doubled unison notes with shared stems in a single layer:

While there are some cases where doubled unison notes (on the same stem / layer) are appropriate, it’s more common to see either stems up / stems down divisi in two Layers, or single noteheads, with technique text indicating “a2” throughout the particular unison passage, like this:

Fortunately, there are several solutions for eliminating duplicate unison notes appearing in the same Layer in Finale:

  • Finale’s Explode Music Tool
  • TGTOOLS Process Extracted Parts Plugin
  • JW Chord Manager . . . Plugin

Let’s take a look at how each works :

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Grand Pause ( G.P. ) Text in Sibelius – Symbols Method

Q: I’m trying to figure out a better mousetrap for dealing with Grand Pauses (GP) in Sibelius. When I use tempo text to create a grand pause in the score, it doesn’t center over bar rests in the score or the parts, so it requires a whole lot of tweaking in both places. I’m hoping there is a smarter, less laborious way to deal with this?

A: Good question. There is actually more than one approach we can take to address this question, in the absence of a true Sibelius feature to center text within a bar. In this tutorial, let’s take a look at the Symbols method:

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Aleatoric Elements : From Boxed to Out of the Box Notation In Finale

Music that supplies only the pitches while directing the players to improvise the rhythms freely is a common (partly) aleatoric device which gives the composer a desired degree of control over the tonality, while retaining temporal freedom.

The notation is typically indicated by surrounding a series of specific pitches with a square or rectangular box, along with a box extender line to indicate that the pitches are to be improvised on for a specific number of beats or a given number of seconds. The exact duration of the “box” can also be indicated as a text duration (e.g. 00:06″ etc).

In “Creating Aleatoric / Temporal Boxed Notation in Finale, Part 1” we looked at how to create these semi-aleatoric directives.

Sometimes, the reverse is desired: the rhythm is notated, but the specific pitches are left up to the player. A common convention for this is to show stems of different lengths (without noteheads) to show the relative pitch relationships:

This is quite simple to do in Finale:

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