Music Spacing Between Layers in Finale

Q: In this screenshot, you’ll notice that the G natural accidental in the third bar is colliding with the previous F sixteenth note between the two layers:


I have tried all sorts of ways to fix it, using the Document Options’ minimum spacing, space between, etc. I have tried Note/Beat/Time Sig. Spacing, all the JW note spacing alternatives and nothing fixes this issue automatically. Is it only fixable manually?

A: Horizontal collisions between layers in Finale is a great topic for discussion. By default, Finale doesn’t factor in the space for the accidental in one Layer if the nearest previous note is in a different layer. In your example, the F sixteenth note is in Layer 1, while the subsequent natural sign on the G sixteenth note is in Layer 2.

The trick to proper note spacing in the example above is to make sure that the accidental on the G is displaying in Layer 1, not just Layer 2, because the more active voice is Layer 1.

If you aren’t totally sure of which Layer to put the accidental in, you can add the accidental to both Layers, which will insure that space is allocated for the accidental:


…The note spacing is now correct, but notice now in the first two bars, we are seeing doubled accidentals in any places where there is a visible accidental in both Layers on the unison notes.

This is due to a setting in the Accidentals panel of the Document Options called “Use Cross-Layer Accidental Positioning“. By default, this is checked, which forces the accidentals in both Layers to show:


Unchecking this option causes the accidentals to move into the same horizontal position relative to the notehead, so that a single accidental shows for the unison notes:


Generally, the rule is: where there is a passage of more than one voice which incorporates unison, putting the courtesy accidentals on the most active voice will produce the best spacing results. To insure correct playback of unisons, you can put courtesy accidentals on both Layers, and uncheck Cross-Layer Accidental Positioning in Document Options.

That’s all there is to it.


for Rolando Gori

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One Reply to “Music Spacing Between Layers in Finale”

  1. Thanks but this method only seems to work when you have a unison in both layers in Finale. When the conflicting note accidental follows at a different pitch in a different layer the only remedy seems to alternate the layers so that the layer is the same. This is not musically correct but because Finale gives precedence to the first layer there are no odd spacing artifacts when we “swap” the notation from stems up to stems down and rests over instead of under notes.

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