In this almost-final MuseScore tutorial video in the 10-part series MuseScore in 10 Easy Steps, I cover some common formatting issues. I decided to split the information over two separate videos because there was a lot to cover. Part B will be on it’s way soon and will include an explanation of available formatting and layout “tools” in MuseScore that are not covered in this video.
Layout and formatting is a difficult topic to discuss because each score has its own set of problems. During this 2-part video, I’ll discuss ways to approach formatting and layout in MuseScore and show you a range of possible solutions. When creating a score it’s best to enter all of the notes and articulations, the lyrics, the dynamics, chord symbols and so on before you think about formatting your score.
Your primary goal is clarity:
- Make the score easy to read
- And ensure there are no collisions
In addition, you should avoid pages that are half-full, so aim to have music that extends the length of each page in your score.
When fixing formatting, always
- Change the global settings first
- Then, make small, local adjustments if necessary
I’ll use this score to show you my solution to a few common formatting issues.
The first thing I notice with this score is that there are lots of empty bars when one or more of the instruments are not playing. I can hide these empty bars which will save space in my score. Go to Style > Edit General Style, make sure you have Score selected on the left, check the Hide Empty Staves box and click OK. Already, the layout of my score has changed substantially.
Now, I’m left with a single system at the end. I can see that there is quite a bit of space on the first two pages, so I’m going to adjust the settings so that the last system ends up on page 2.
There are a number of options here:
- I can adjust the distance between staves (that is, individual instruments)
- I can adjust the distance between systems (that is, a group of instruments)
- I can adjust the music margins – that is, the distance from the top or bottom of the page to the music
- Or I can adjust the distance between the lyrics and the stave above or the stave below
I’m going to start with the lyrics:
There’s quite a bit of room above and below the lyrics which I can reduce to save space in my score. I’ll go to Style > Edit General Style and click on Page. Many of the formatting options can be found here and it’s a good idea to experiment with each of the settings until you discover the ideal solution to your formatting issue.
I’ll decrease the Lyrics Lower Margin to 1.0. Once you click Apply, you can see the changes in your score behind the window.
Now I’ll adjust the distance between Systems. Go back to Style > Edit General Style and click on Page again and this time reduce the System Distance. Now when I click Apply I can see that the final system has moved back on to page 2.
Lastly, I’m going to make an adjustment to the layout of measures in the final few bars. I want bar 17 to appear on the last system and I can manually move it by creating a Line Break at the end of bar 16. This time I’ll click on the Breaks and Spacers Palette, select the Line Break and drag it to the bar I want to appear at the end of the line.
I’m now happy with the way this score looks, so I’m ready to print.
In part 2 of this video, we’ll look at some other common layout and formatting issues and their solutions.