Create Simple Vertical Group Names in Finale

Simple Vertical Group Names


I was recently asked to create a score layout that evoked some old Hollywood styles. One of the aspects discussed was a different way of formatting instrument families. Vertical instrument labels can be found on some old manuscript papers but are all but forgotten in today’s computer notation.

Creating vertical staff group labels are easy work in Finale. If you already have staff groups established, as in the excerpt below, it’s just a matter of reformatting the label itself. If you don’t, here’s a brief explanation.

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Engraving for a Publisher

Q: So, what is a music engraver?

A: What sets us apart from average Finale or Sibelius users is an extreme eye for detail and a head full of notation rules, conventions, and study. An engraver will keenly assess and finesse every slur, articulation, spacing, page turn. Engravers are the difference between the notation program’s default template look and the look and feel of quality published music.

In my years engraving for publishers, I’ve worked on everything from a massive multi-volume band and string method series to jazz bands, complex percussion books, the Suzuki Method, hymnals, school band/orchestra, and handbell music. Each genre and publisher brings its own set of styles and techniques. Even within the same publisher, house styles can vary between product lines so awareness of these details is a huge part of the job. I keep style books for every product line and publisher I work with.

Two brief examples of program default vs. engraved (Finale):



Default slurs crash into staff lines, the leftmost slur will be bleed almost completely into the staff line once it’s printed, and the second two slurs give the player no useful information on where the melody is going next.


Engraved slurs’ tips and arcs clear staff lines and their direction follows the direction of the music. I prefer substantial slurs so these have been customized significantly. Finale’s default settings produce wispy curves that tend to easily get lost in the staff lines.

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