Freeze Magnetic Layout in Sibelius to Improve MusicXML Export to Finale

Hi Robert,

I’m much more of a Sibelius user and I’m trying to automate some things to quickly clean up files in Finale after importing MusicXML Files. Specifically, I’d like to see if there is a plug-in or a FinaleScript that cleans up formatting in Finale so there aren’t as many collisions on the page. I use Magnetic Layout in Sibelius, so I’m hoping there is something like that out there for Finale.


Hi Steve,

MusicXML can be a lifesaver, but formatting between different notation software applications can be a bit of a double edged sword. On the one hand, you may want to duplicate the exact layout from the source score, but you’ll probably also want to be able to leverage the best layout features of your notation program of choice when working in it.

Sometimes, your notation program of choice may provide a solution for a specific task which looks and works great within the program, but which isn’t exported via MusicXML…

Sibelius’ Magnetic Layout feature is a perfect example of this. In Sibelius, Magnetic Layout avoids collisions on the page between objects. To do this, the feature doesn’t specify new hardwired positions; Magnetic Layout creates proximity “buffer zones”; a “minimum distance allowed” rule between specific types of objects.

For instance, suppose you have specified that the Default Position of Technique Text is two spaces above the staff. With Magnetic Layout on, when this text encounters a collision with a note, Sibelius moves the Technique text up, out of the way:


The light gray “arco” and “pizz.”, which appear at the default positions for these text objects, shows how far the text is being moved to clear the notes. When you see this “ghost” text, you know that Magnetic Layout is on.

The Magnetic Layout feature is great within Sibelius, but creates a problem with the exported MusicXML document. As far as MusicXML knows, Technique text belongs two spaces above the staff, as defined in the Default Positions in Sibelius. So, when you import the file into Finale, you get this:


Fortunately, if you or your colleagues are using Magnetic Layout in Sibelius, there is a simple solution to greatly improve positioning accuracy when exporting a Sibelius MusicXML file into Finale:


If you Freeze Magnetic Layout Positioning in the Sibelius file before you export via MusicXML, Finale will respect those “frozen” positions on import. In Sibelius 6, locate Layout > Freeze Magnetic Layout Positions. In Sibelius 7.x and later Freeze Positions is found in the Magnetic Layout Group of the Layout Tab.

When collision avoidance is being provided by Magnetic Layout, once you Freeze Positions, you will no longer see the little gray “ghost” default positioning locators:


Now, when you export as MusicXML in Sibelius and import the same document in Finale, there are no longer collisions, because the “actual” frozen position has been recording in the MusicXML file:



When transferring files from Finale to Sibelius, if you really want to accurately see the positioning of the objects in the original Finale file, simply turn Magnetic Layout off for that score. (you can always turn it on again later).

Hopefully, your next MusicXML conversion from Sibelius to Finale will be much less work!


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