Sibelius Gap Before Bar – A Positive Feature With Negative Offsets

Q: I have a very strange Sibelius error that I can’t fix. The piece I am working on shows brackets in the middle of a system that I cannot delete without that all the brackets in the whole piece get deleted. I don’t remember how it ended up there, and I am sure I saved the file in a normal state. After opening it, though, it was like this:


Any idea what happened and how I could fix this?

A: Sibelius has a little move handle that appears when you click in a certain place just to the front of a staff:

You might  use this feature in a part to indent the first system if you are not setting a specific distance numerically (preferred method). You simply select the little move handle, and drag the barline to the right. This feature is called “Gap Before Bar”. For more precision, you can also set an exact amount of space to indent your first system by selecting the bar, then in the Sibelius 6 Properties Panel or Sibelius 7 Inspector, enter a positive number into the Gap Before Bar field.

Sometimes, the barline at the start of a system can get inadvertently dragged a small amount in the score, and you may not notice this initially. This changes the Gap Before Bar setting from zero (normal) to something else (quite often a negative number). Gap Before Bar is found in the Properties Panel of Sibelius 6, or the Inspector in Sibelius 7. A negative number means the bar was offset to the left; a positive number means it was moved to the right:

Gap Before Bar that has been changed in the score will also show up in the parts.

Gap Before Bar can also be used to add a positive amount of extra space in score or parts between two bars to create a Coda or alternate ending. The preferred method, as when indenting the first system is to create a specific amount of space by selecting the bar and typing a value into the Gap Before Bar field to create the gap numerically:

However, note that if you inadvertently change the Gap Before Bar, once you respace the score, the bar that was originally at the start of a page will likely wind up overlapping  in the middle of a new score page, and in that case, the offset shows up as in the first screen shot.

Fortunately it’s quite easy to fix. A reset of Gap Before Bar to zero will fix this issue. Select the bar, and change the value to zero in the Properties Panel or Inspector.

That’s it! That’s all there is to it.


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