Making Efficient Use of Linked Parts In Finale

It baffles me that there are still a number of commercial Music Copying Houses in LA, New York and elsewhere that are still not taking advantage of the benefits of Finale’s integrated score and parts. These copyists are still using an old method from the mid 1990’s, where a master parts template file is created, and each part is pasted into the template one at a time, then saved off as individual, separate files.

From a housekeeping standpoint alone, the difference between managing 1 master parts file or 30 individual files is a no brainer. Printing is also much slower, as each individual file must be opened up and printed vs. being able to take advantage of the batch printing option in recent versions of Finale. Factor in any sort of last minute edits, particularly those where notes from one staff are to be copied into another, or changes to the form of the piece, and it quickly becomes obvious that a few minutes to learn a technique which integrates all the parts into a single file would be invaluable.

Let’s take a look…


Back before computer notation programs, hand copyists working in commercial genres such as musical theater, film, television and live performance would create a Master Layout for each instrument section by figuring page turns in advance; drawing bar lines, clefs, key and time signatures, then filling in all of the common rests and unison notes into the first stage of the Layout for that group of players.

The copyist would then shoot photocopies of these master pages for each musician in the section, and then fill in any remaining harmony, counterpoint bars or other unique notation for each of the individual parts. This technique was called“Advancing the Layout”. Copyists are historically paid by the page, so this technique which saved a great deal of time for what in essence amounted to much better hourly pay was popularly referred to as a “Swindle”.

When hand copyists started making the transition to computer notation programs, it was natural for them to approach their workflow in a similar way: paste the first instrument into a copy of the template file, do a layout, and then save off a copy. Pasting the second instrument in the section into the same layout is, in effect, a “digital swindle”. Of course, with a computer notation program like Finale or Sibelius, you aren’t *required*  to do the layout first, and creating layouts is even faster and more efficient now than when separate parts files were required. Which brings us to “Copy Part Layout”.


In order to manage all of your parts in one file, you’ll need Finale 2008 or later (I know, right?) with Finalescript, and optionally, the full version of the TGTOOLS plugin.


In the world of feature film scores, because you are nearly always working with someone else’s score, the last thing you want is to introduce a change that changes the original master score from the composer’s (or orchestrator’s) intent. Open the source score in Finale. Save As and rename the file to identify it as a Parts Score for this piece.


Text Inserts are a very useful feature in Finale. These are essentially text wildcards that you can propagate with information from File Info (called the Score Manager as of Finale 2012). One great use of Inserts is to display the Title on all pages of a piece as a header in addition to displaying it on the title page itself. Your title can appear at full size on the title page, and at a smaller size (and even a different location) on subsequent pages.

The full version of the TGTools plugin additionally allows you to transfer page text with the page placement, fonts, sizes and font attributes intact. Used in connection with the Text Inserts feature of Finale, this is extremely powerful, allowing you to quickly transfer your own “House Style” or “template look” for Titles, Composer, Page Headers and other Page Text quickly into any parts score. Here’s how:

Go into File Info (Score Manager) of this new parts score, and enter all appropriate information or move it to the appropriate fields (Too few fields for too many years in Finale’s File Info have forced composers and orchestrators to use incorrect fields when entering information).

  •  Title (for a film, this is typically the cue / reel number)
  • Subtitle (for a film, the “name” of the cue. Could also be a movement number etc)
  • Composer
  • Arranger (is also typically used for the orchestrator’s name)
  • Copyright (due to the lack of fields in File Info of Finale, sometimes PROJECT or FILM title will go in this field.)

Ok the File Info dialog.


Remember I mentioned the old method of pasting individual staves into a master parts template file so the parts had the right “look”? This process is similar, but in reverse: here, we transfer the Document settings from our Template File into our current Parts File, so that it inherits the settings.

  1. Open your template file, which has the “look” and all the settings you like to use for parts (e.g. your “House Style”).
  2. Make sure it is the foremost document, and that the only other open file is your newly saved parts score.
  3. Open the Finalescript Plugin, and locate the Import House Style finalescript. This takes the doc settings from the forward document and copies them to the source score. If for some reason you can’t locate the script, you can copy and paste the following text into a new script:

// Start
// HOUSE STYLE is all options included in the Document Options dialog box, plus all of the SmartShape Options.

//  Open both your template file and the score. Bring your template file forward so it is the current document, and run this script.

process all open docs
don’t process current doc
import house style
import page format (for score)
import page format (for parts)
// End

Some scores have big time signatures which are set in Finale to only display on Specific Staves. Locate and run the Global Staff Attributes script on the parts score, making sure “Display Rests In Empty Measures” is checked as well as “Display Time Signatures”. This way, all the parts will show time signatures, and also show whole rests where appropriate.


In Finale 2012, 2011 and even 2010, a fast and simple way to control the way the document looks (e.g. fonts and their attributes) is to use Reset to Category Fonts in the Category Designer. Any text expression that is sorted in this way by Category can be updated globally by changing font, size and attributes in the Category Designer. Any new expression that is created within a category will inherit the new attributes as well.

The font for Measure numbers is normally changed  in the Edit Measure Number Regions dialog, but can also be quickly modified by using a Finalescript as well. Just replace the font name, size or attribute info in the short script below as you need (for instance, you could substitute “plain” with “bold”):

// Start
search “” replace “” [Times New Roman] 10 plain, bar numbers
// End


If you have the full version of the TGTools plugin, and already have a Template file with specific fonts, sizes and on-page locations for your Titles, Subtitles, Composer text etc., you can replace the Page Text in the new score with your own “House Style” Page Text. Here’s how:

  1.  After making sure you have filled in the text fields of Finale’s File Info with the current score info, delete all page text on all pages of the source score, e.g. titles, composer, page headers, etc. Select the Text Tool (“A” icon), then select all (CNTRL-A or CMND-A and delete.
  2. Now bring your Template document to the front, making sure that the only other open doc is your new Parts score.
  3. Open TGTOOLS>Modify>Transfer>Objects and check Page Text. With the Template / transfer doc forward, click the COPY button.
  4. Close your Template without saving.
  5. With the Source Score document open and forward, click the PASTE button in the TGTOOLS Transfer dialog. Your Parts Score will update with all the information you entered into File Info, with all the locations, sizes and fonts that you set up in your Template.


If you are copying a score for someone else, you’ll need to check to make sure transpositions are set correctly. While some orchestrators set up their scores with proper transpositions in place, many always work in Concert Pitch, so you’ll need to go into the Staff Attributes for each transposing instrument and set the appropriate (chromatic) transposition and clef.


  1.  Select “Manage Parts” from the Document menu.
  2. Click Finale’s part creation preferences, and UNCHECK Space Systems Evenly, if checked.
  3. Generating a new set of parts allows the document settings from your Template file to appear in the parts. If there is already a set of parts defined, you can overwrite these by clicking the Generate Parts button.


If you have divisi parts (besides strings) which are combined into a single staff in the score, you can define their voicing (unless you created new staves for each instrument and broke out the voicing to these individual staves before you created your new parts):

  1. For any two voice part such as TRUMPET 1&2, the procedure is very simple. First, rename the existing Trumpets part to be TRUMPET 1. Click the EDIT VOICING button, and assign this part to always be the top voice, or Layer 1 if two layers. For TRUMPET 2, click the NEW PART button, add TRUMPET 1&2 from the list on the right hand side and in EDIT VOICING for this part, choose BOTTOM note or LAYER 2 if multiple layers.
  2. Remove any redundant parts that may have been created in the Manage Parts when you generated them. For instance, if you combine Violin 1 and 2 on the same part, or group several percussion instruments together, you will want to remove the unneeded parts.


Staves that you have combined together in Managed Parts will need to have brackets applied (e.g. new groups will need to be created with brackets for these parts). Percussion, Choir and Violin 1, 2 are the most common part groupings you will create in any project.

While all of this may initially seem rather complicated, it will be very intuitive once you’ve done it once or twice, and it turns out that it is actually about the same speed as pasting into individual files, with many efficiency advantages during the print stage and at the session. If you are still pasting your parts into template files, I encourage you to make use of Finale’s Managed Parts.

8 Replies to “Making Efficient Use of Linked Parts In Finale”

  1. Now that I have clicked around the menu options, I can more accurately say Finale definitely has it 90% together. (Is 100% possible? Probably not.)

    1. Hi David – I would agree that there is definitely still a fair bit of room for improvement, but as a Finale user since v2.0, I have to say, the MakeMusic team has done a really good job of making incremental improvements to Finale, particularly in the last couple of years, and particularly since Finale 25 was introduced. They have been pretty responsive when I have contacted their tech support, so you might want to give that a try for feature suggestions and UI improvement ideas. Good luck!

  2. So here it s 2019 with Finale 26, and a recent OS update just wiped out my full-owned page layout program’s ability to function, so I an just now getting started on this. (my page templates we there – much easier to manage.)

    Thanks for this useful post!

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