Finale: Use Percussion Pictographs for Staff Names or Instrument Changes

This tutorial is also available for Sibelius.

I recently typeset a piece of music for children’s choir and percussion. The percussion part, which was on three different instrument lines, needed to be as clear and readable as possible for the kids performing. The publisher requested that we use percussion pictographs instead of abbreviated text for the percussion instrument names after the first system:


I thought this would make an interesting tutorial, useful for worksheets and other specialty applications (like my kid’s choir project). I hope you agree. Let’s take it from the left edge…

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Creating Big Time Signatures in Finale which include the Cut Time Symbol

Q. Do you know if there a solution to the omission of a Cut Time option in Finale’s Engraver Time font?

A. As you know, the Engraver Time font is a vertically “stretched” narrow font specifically designed to display large time signatures in scores:


However, inexplicably, Finale doesn’t provide the Cut Time symbol in the Engraver Time font; the character slots “c” and “Shift-C” in Engraver Time have been left blank. It’s unclear why a vertically stretched Cut Time symbol was not included with the Engraver Time font.

Finale’s Document Options > Time Signatures dialog can control positioning of the abbreviated Cut Time symbol vertically separate from the regular meters. 

I have logged a feature request with MakeMusic to add the Cut Time and Common Time Symbols to the Engraver Time Font (if you would like to request this as well, refer to case #130919-000264)

In the meantime, if you also happen to own Sibelius 7, you can use the “Opus Big Time Std.” font from Sibelius which *does* have a version of Cut Time and Common Time symbols. Make sure the Cut Time option is checked in Document Options > Time Signatures.

(Hint: if you don’t own Sibelius 7, ask a friend who does to email you the Opus Big Time Std. font, or you can download the Sibelius 7 30-day free trial, which comes with all of the fonts.)

Once you install the Opus Big Time Std. font, depending on the font size you choose for your big time signatures, you will likely need to separately adjust the vertical positioning for the Abbreviated Cut Time symbol so that it appears properly related to the positioning of your regular time signatures:


You can vertically adjust the three fields for Abbreviated Symbol, Top Symbol and Bottom Symbol to where you think they look best based on the size of your time signatures.

for Susan Pascal


  1. Finale Blog: Creating Large Time Signatures in Conductor’s Scores
  2. Finale Manual – Document Options-Time Signatures dialog box

Using Music Fonts to Create Woodwind / Brass Fingering Charts in a Score

Q: I need to notate some complex fingerings within a score. How do I create fingering Charts? Is there an easy and quick way or any way at all?!

A: It’s a good question. Sometimes, particularly with woodwinds, it is desirable to be able to indicate specific fingerings for multiphonics or extended techniques (sample PDF).

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On Location : Finale & Sibelius Rehearsal Marks

“From the top ?” . . .

Image source : “The Art of Music Engraving and Processing” by Ted Ross

“Thanks for the great rehearsal marks!” isn’t the type of compliment you’ll hear from musicians at a rehearsal. But even if they don’t always tell you, musicians really appreciate it when you make their job easier by providing clear location info in their parts.

Location info helps the musicians stay in sync. Entrance cues in parts are a good example. Different barline types help to define sections. Multi-measure rests that break logically with phrases can be a location aid. Bar numbers are particularly helpful when navigating linear scores. Key changes or tempo changes can also provide location info.


Rehearsal Marks allow the members of a band or orchestra of any size to quickly navigate to a specific point in the score together, in order to master more difficult passages in rehearsal.  (It’s also easier for the conductor or bandleader to say “Take it from Letter M” than “Take it from bar 167”). Even after the piece has been mastered, Rehearsal Marks continue to provide location signposts for the players, helping them to stay oriented during performances or additional rehearsals.

Finale and Sibelius allow you to easily change the appearance of Rehearsal Marks to make them stand out in your score and parts.

Font, size and attributes can all be customized.

Both programs dynamically update rehearsal marks if you insert, move or delete them, automating the sequence of Rehearsal Marks correctly regardless of the order in which you enter them.

You can restart the Rehearsal Mark sequence at any point in the score. In Finale, choose Edit Rehearsal Mark Sequence from the Expressions menu. In Sibelius 7, choose the drop down menu for Rehearsal Mark in the Text Tab. In Sibelius 6, choose Rehearsal Mark from the Create Menu.

In both Finale and Sibelius, you can choose whether Rehearsal Marks are displayed as Rehearsal Letters, Rehearsal Numbers, or Bar Numbers.

Rehearsal marks are assigned to key shortcuts, which can be customized. Default shortcuts are “M” in Finale or “CNTRL-R” (windows) or “CMND-R” (mac) in Sibelius.

Both programs allow to you insert a non-sequential rehearsal mark if needed, and to hide measure numbers at the locations of the Rehearsal Marks.

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Change Stubborn Text in Finale Quickly, Easily & Globally with Finale Script

In “Finale Text Sized, Placed & Styled – Document Options & the Category Designer, we looked at how we can set up a Finale document’s overall font choices using the Document Options > Fonts and the Category Designer.

Changes to the Category Designer and Set Default Music Font affect your score in real time; however, some of the text objects in Document Options > Fonts can only be set prior to starting work on your score; problematic if your score is already completed, or you need to update your House Style after the fact.

So, since some of the Document Settings don’t update in real time in Finale, how do we change the font settings for text types such as Lyrics*, Measure Numbers*, Staff Names* and Text Blocks* which we have already entered?

This is where writing a few short lines of Finale Script can help you. Wait! You don’t have to be a computer programmer. It’s really simple, I promise. And it will save you hours of work over time with minimal effort up front.

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Finale Text Sized, Placed & Styled – Document Options & the Category Designer

There are two main requirements for managing Text in any notation program. First, we want to be able to define in advance how the musical and text elements will look, so that our score is following the same appearance rules throughout. This is part of what music publishers refer to as a “House Style”.  Secondly, we need to be able to “break the rules” easily for special cases (for instance, if the title is to be in an ornate font where text is otherwise a more standard serif or san-serif font.)

For existing scores, knowing how to set up defaults for Text in Finale will also help us quickly locate  font, size and attribute information about a particular string of text, and quickly make changes, if needed.


Initially, there are two main locations where we define Text in Finale. The first of these is found in Document Options > Fonts, and is the place where we determine the exact “look” of the music notation itself, as well as the default font, size and font attributes for some other Finale text.

The second “default setup” area for text is Finale’s Category Designer, where we choose the font, size, style and location of all instructional text for the piece associated with staves or systems. These categories include Dynamics, Expressions, Techniques, Tempo and Rehearsal Marks etc. Let’s take a look …

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Finale – Type Harp pedal markings as text into your score

Q: “In Finale, I have notated the starting and ending notes of a gliss which is in C minor. The full version of TGTOOLS has the Harp Pedaling… plugin, but since I’m not displaying enough pitches at this point in the score to outline the C minor tonality, I can’t get the plugin to work. Can I manually type in the harp pedal marking for C minor as text into Finale?”

A: Yes. To indicate the pedal changes at the start of a piece or new section, there are two standard conventions:

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