What is Engrave Mode in Dorico?

ūü騬† This article is a transcription of one of the excellent tutorial videos posted to the official Dorico YouTube channel.

Presented here in written form with the kind permission of¬†its creator, Anthony Hughes, this tutorial is titled “What is Engrave Mode in Dorico?”‚Ķ


Hi, I’m Anthony Hughes and in this video I’ll be introducing you to Engrave mode, which is where you access many of the more advanced layout and formatting controls here in Dorico, the new music notation software from Steinberg.

There are some important differences between Write mode and Engrave mode. Write mode is where you input your music and let Dorico lay everything out using its default settings or any global options that you have overridden. Engrave mode is where you tweak the positioning and appearance of individual items.

You cannot input or delete music items in Engrave mode.

When you make edits in Write mode, you are modifying the actual musical data of the items in your score, whereas in Engrave mode any edits you make purely affect the graphical aspect of the music items and do not alter the underlying semantic information.

Let me show you an example. First let’s switch to Write mode by pressing Ctrl+2 on Windows (that’s Cmd+2 on Mac).

The forte in this passage takes effect from the rhythmic position of this G.

Now if I move it by cutting and pasting it to the C [use the context menu to do this], it now takes effect from its new position at the very beginning of the system.

When I switch to Engrave mode, however, by pressing the key command Ctrl+3 on Windows (that’s Cmd+3 on Mac),

dragging this forte to a new position does not change which notes or rhythmic position it relates to, but purely where it is drawn. In this case, it still takes effect right at the start of the system. If I really felt the need, I could place the forte all the way over here, and it would still take affect from this C.

Of course, that’s not something I would actually need to do, however making small optical adjustments on the precise placement of music items is sometimes necessary,

and being able to do this safe in the knowledge that the item will never suddenly snap to another rhythmic position is very useful.

In order to facilitate these Ô¨Āne-grain optical adjustments, selections in Engrave mode work a little differently.

In Write mode, clicking anywhere on a note selects the entire note so you can change things like its pitch or duration.

In Engrave mode, you’ll notice you can select just the stem and then click and drag the handle to move it to a new position.

Engrave mode also has the properties panel, though expands upon what is available in Write mode, giving much more power and Ô¨āexibility over the appearance of every item in your score.

The key command is the same: Ctrl+8 on Windows, Cmd+8 on Mac.

Engrave mode is also where you access the advanced page layout tools as well as features for formatting the score, including controlling system and page breaks as well as easy-to-use staff spacing tools. These will all be covered in separate videos.

I hope this has been helpful to you. Please subscribe to the Dorico Youtube channel to see more videos like this. I’m Anthony Hughes, thanks for watching.


I appreciate your support of the OF NOTE  blog. If you find it to be a useful resource, please consider subscribing to OF NOTE and . ~robert

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *