How to Create Colored Barlines in Sibelius

Q: How can I assign a color to an individual barline? If I try, Sibelius tells me these objects can’t be colored.

A: While ordinary barlines can’t be colored, there is an easy way to do this; by first changing it into a special barline.  Select the barline you want to color, then, in Sibelius 7 or later, locate the Barlines Group in the Common section of the Notations Tab.

If it is a “normal” barline, when you select Normal, it will remain visibly the same; however, making it a Special Barline will allow you to color it with the shortcut CNTRL-J Windows / CMND-J Mac.

Caution: prior to Sibelius v8.7.2, all Special Barlines split multirests in parts.

A German version of this post („Farbige Taktstriche”) is available here.


Karin Vadon is a classically trained musician, singer-songwriter and music copyist from Vienna, Austria who authors a german-language music notation blog for Sibelius and Dorico users.

Controlling Page Number Visibility in Sibelius

Q: Can I delete or hide the page numbers Sibelius creates by default?

A: Page numbers in Sibelius are a special type of Text Style which cannot be selected directly.

As such, they cannot be hidden or removed in the “normal” way, e.g. selected and deleted like other “System”text  – for example, Tempo mark or a regular Header or Footer. (You might wish to hide page numbers when creating a worksheet, for example.)

They can easily be hidden, however. In Sibelius 7 and later, choose “Page Number Change” in the Numbering group of the Text tab and then select “Hide page numbers”:

In Sibelius 6, this dialog is found in Create > Other > Page Number Change.

A German version of this post („Seitenzahlen ausblenden”) is available here.


Karin Vadon is a classically trained musician, singer-songwriter and music copyist from Vienna, Austria who authors a german-language music notation blog for Sibelius and Dorico users.

Finale: Understanding Expression Positioning

Expression Positioning in Finale

I used Finale for years knowing that there were all sorts of options in the Expression Designer for how the Expression should get positioned, but without necessarily understanding what all the different terms meant, or how they would actually affect the resulting position of the Expression. Looking at dropdown menus like these tended to make my eyes glaze over:

I have come to appreciate the power of understanding how these settings work and setting them properly. The more things naturally pop into the places I want them to by default, the less time I spend adjusting them by hand later!

more >> “Finale: Understanding Expression Positioning”

Getting a Good Mix in Finale

Finale’s audio output has the potential to generate great audio and wonderful-sounding scores for consumers and demos. For the majority of users, the default settings are adequate. Midi/Audio>Play Finale Through Audio Units should be selected in order to activate Garritan Instruments for Finale (or Garritan’s premium libraries. For more information on setup for these libraries, see this article on the Scoring Notes blog: “Getting Started in Finale with Garritan’s Premium Libraries”).  For those working on larger scores in pursuit of the best possible quality, however, the defaults don’t work well. Let’s take a look at how to address common problems you may encounter, and create the best possible mix in Finale.

more >> “Getting a Good Mix in Finale”

String Numbers for Notes on Notation Staves in Sibelius

Some educational materials color or mark the strings on which notes appear for a stringed instrument. This document describes how string numbering can be used with plugins in Sibelius scores.

For notation staves there is no user indication as to which strings a note is assigned. Plugins can access string number for notes, but only if the notes had been copied to a Tablature (Tab) staff and copied back.

more >> “String Numbers for Notes on Notation Staves in Sibelius”

Finale: A Simple Trick for Misbehaving Measure Number Regions

I was just working as a proofreader on a recording project, and the cue I was looking at was supposed to start with measure 6. I noticed that it was starting at measure 1, and (figuring that the copyist had simply overlooked it) went to set the Measure Number Region accordingly. I was surprised to see that the measure number region had in fact been set properly, but for some reason was not updating:

With a little bit of trial and error, I tried reselecting the numbering style, and voila! The region updated appropriately:

Usually measure number regions update dynamically as you change the “Starting Number” field, and I’m not sure why this one got stuck… But if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, give this a try!


Jacob Winkler is the Artistic Director of the Seattle Girls Choir, and an instructor in Finale and Sibelius for the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program. He is frequently engaged as a choral singer for film and game soundtracks, including the Halo, Assassin’s Creed, and World of Warcraft series. LinkedIn