Create Drop Shadow Enclosures for Rehearsal Marks in Finale

In graphic design, a drop shadow is a visual effect consisting of a drawing element which looks like the shadow of an object, giving the impression that the object is raised above the objects behind it.

The “Reprise Rehearsal” font for Sibelius automatically provides this effect with a handwritten look:


“Finale Copyist Text”, “Broadway Copyist Text” and “Jazz Text” are handwritten look fonts from MakeMusic that provide a way to bracket text, although this is not technically “drop shadow”. See this related article.

For years, in both Finale and Sibelius, I have used Bill Duncan’s “Rehearsal” and “Rehearsal Sans” fonts to create drop shadow rehearsal marks with a more typeset look:


Each of the number and letter characters in the Rehearsal and Rehearsal Sans font have a  drop shadow outline above and below each character (including the space character), but with open sides:


This design allows you to globally prepend and append [ ] drop shadow brackets to any text string, regardless of length:


These rehearsal mark fonts were originally part of Bill Duncan’s “Finale Productivity Set” which is long since out of print. The last known source I am aware of is NPC Imaging.

But if you really like this effect, you don’t really need a special font; at least not in Finale. All you need to do is create two different rehearsal mark Expressions with slightly different enclosure thicknesses and positioning and when you add each rehearsal mark, overlay these two rehearsal marks one on top of the other.

(Sibelius provides a global setting for “Text Borders” in its Engraving Rules which affects all text enclosures, so it isn’t currently possible to use this technique in that program.)

Here’s how:

First, define your preferred font, size and placement for your Rehearsal Marks in Category Designer:


Next, go into the Expression Selector and check “Use Auto Sequencing Style”. Choose your preferred Rehearsal Mark style from the popup:


Now, drill down to the Enclosure Designer and set the Enclosure size and Enclosure thickness; whatever you think looks good for the “shadow”. Here, I have set the Enclosure thickness to 1/2 of a space. Note that I also have “Opaque” checked:


Next, OK the Enclosure Designer and Expression Designer dialogs so you are back in the Expression Selection dialog. Duplicate your Rehearsal Mark:


For this second Rehearsal Mark, click Edit, then go into the Enclosure Designer and change the enclosure width to something thinner; e.g. closer to the width of a staff line. I used 2 evpus.

OK the dialog, then go into the Positioning Tab and uncheck “Use Rehearsal Mark Positioning”.  Add a negative offset to “Additional Horizontal Offset”, and a positive offset to “Additional Vertical Offset”. Small increments will increase the amount of the “shadow” effect. Try between .25 — .33 spaces plus or minus to start:


You can assign hot keys to this pair of marks so that you can apply them quickly right over the top of one another. The default mark goes on first, and your version with the thinner enclosure right after. This works with any of the auto sequencing styles:


Note that you can also use this same overlay technique for a rehearsal mark or any other boxed text that is a longer string, for instance to recreate the “Chorus” example above:


My colleague Jan Angermüller points out to me that you could use this same technique to create a drop shadow effect for measure numbers. Create two identical measure number regions, then set the enclosure thickness and positioning in Measure Number Regions similarly to the steps above. 



2 Replies to “Create Drop Shadow Enclosures for Rehearsal Marks in Finale”

  1. Thank you for sharing this very helpful tip! Is there also a way to add drop shadow enclosures for part names and titles? I’m using the current version of Finale. Hope to hear from you soon!

    1. Hi Paul

      For Title or any on page text using the Text Tool, the Text Menu has a menu item called “Custom Frame”. Select to Edit the on page title text, then choose Custom Frame from the text menu. Here you can add a box shape around the title text. The new enclosure that you create will be added to the list of available shapes.

      now with the text tool selected, double click on the page like you are going to add text but here, just type a hard space character (this is Option-Space on Mac). Select Custom Frame and choose the same enclosure shape, then just move it into position to show the shadow box.

      I’m not sure that this is possible for Instrument Names, though. I’ll take a closer look at this; there are no enclosure settings in the Text menu for Instrument Names, unfortunately.

      Hope that helps.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.