Beyond Defaults : Create ½, whole-tone, flat, natural & sharp trill lines in Finale

There are a couple of common approaches for indicating trills with specific trill-to pitches in your music score. One way is to indicate the trill-to pitch as a stemless, cue sized note in a parenthesis.


This is an extremely clear and elegant way to present the trill-to information. However, for “commercial” scores, this method is somewhat labor-intensive to create in the current software, and furthermore, isn’t completely bulletproof in terms of the trill-to pitch maintaining its horizontal positioning after music spacing .

Trills containing an intervalic jump larger than a whole step are commonly referred to as “fingered tremolo”, and displayed as pairs of notes with tremolo slashes.

Another method of displaying trills, which is very common in popular and commercial orchestral music as well as film and video game scores, largely because it is so efficient for entry, is to include a flat, natural or sharp symbol above, or just to the right of the “tr” symbol. For commercial scores, you also frequently see the trill-to note indicated as an intervalic distance, like a ½ step or a whole-tone (wt).

The Finale Default Files and Templates include a set of flat, sharp and natural trill lines in Smart Shapes, which look like this:


To get to them, you can Option / Alt. click on the Custom line tool, to select the included trill flat, trill natural or trill sharp lines.

I needed another common way to display these accidentals, which is slightly to the right of the trill symbol.

(Note: you can create custom trill lines using the combined Trill Sharp, Trill Flat and Trill Natural characters contained in Engraver Font Extras which ships with Finale. See chart for Mac and Windows keystrokes. )

In addition, I wanted this version of these trills to have the accidentals in parenthesis:


Finally, particularly for the film and video game scoring work I do, I needed “tr½” and whole-tone trill lines:

Going back to old versions of Finale such as Finale 2011 and 2012, Unicode text is not yet fully supported. So, the ½ character in the trill for earlier versions of Finale cannot be created using a single Unicode character as is possible currently;  instead, vertical and horizontal offsets of three separate text characters are used.

I’d like to share these trill lines with you. Download ““. The zip archive contains  a .mus version which works in Finale 2011, 2012 format (with the assembled 1/2 character), and a .musx version optimized for later versions of Finale since Finale 2014 (Finale 25, Finale 26 and later), which includes the proper Unicode ½ symbol.

Once you have opened the appropriate file for your version of Finale, Choose File > Save Library… Check “Smart Lines”, and save the library file with a descriptive name you’ll remember.

You can then load the new trills into your currently open template or score by choosing File > Load Library…

You can also copy and paste these trill lines from the “Finale Trill Source” file you downloaded into your current project or template:

  1. Open the Trill Lines Source document.
  2. Select the Mass Edit tool. Choose Edit > Edit Filter.
  3. Uncheck everything except for Smart Shapes (Assigned to Measures). OK.
  4. Select the measure containing the Trill line you want. Copy it to the clipboard (CTRL-C / WIndows or CMND-C / Mac), and then paste it into your own Template document.

(this method can be useful if you need to quickly grab one of these trill lines for a particular project).

That’s it! Please share these smart line trills with other Finale users if you find them useful. Thank you.


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