Reposition Staves Vertically In Finale

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.

One Reply to “Reposition Staves Vertically In Finale”

  1. That Opt+click+drag also works within parts, if you just want to adjust the vertical space of one system, it’ll leave the system below in its existing spot.

    Another of my favorite tools along these lines is the Respace Staves dialog. Give things “just a bit more room” with a percentage increase of decrease across a page or many pages. This is especially useful if you have to change the system scaling of an entire piece. You can use tool to globally fit your pages once more. Or of course, if you want reset the space between staves to a given value.

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