Well, it’s been a long time coming, I know. Here is the final instalment of the MuseScore in 10 Easy Steps series. Unfortunately I fit these tutorials in around my daytime job (as a music software trainer in Australia) and life has been very busy lately! There will be more video tutorials coming, just as soon as I can squeeze them in
This video covers the ways in which you can make more space in your score, to prevent musical objects from colliding into one another, and/or to make your score clearer and more readable. If you missed part A you can find it here.
In this second part, we’ll look at some common formatting issues and how to overcome them.
Creating more space between notes, staves and systems
The first thing you should do is to try to find a global layout setting that works for your whole score: that is, one that makes the score clear and easy to read. Here are some of the options:
1 Decrease Scaling Setting
One of the easiest ways to create more breathing space in your score is to adjust the scaling setting under Layout > Page Settings. The scaling setting affects the distance between the individual stave lines, so decreasing this number will make the staves smaller and in turn, the noteheads, stems, dynamic markings and so on. This simple change can have a dramatic effect on layout and can also reduce the overall number of pages in your score.
You can use the down arrow to decrease the setting, or type a new number into the box here. Click Apply and then OK. It’s a good idea to test-print one page of your score to check the result: it’s very difficult to tell whether the stave size is OK, just by looking at your screen.
2 Decrease page margins
Another way to create more space is to adjust the page margins. Go to Layout > Page Settings, where you can adjust the Top, Bottom, Left and Right margins for both the Odd and Even pages.
3 Change the distances between staves and/or systems
When you go to Style > Edit General Style and click on Page in the list on the left, there are multiple options for altering the layout of specific sections of your score.
The Staff distance setting increases or decreases the distance between individual instruments in your score. If you have low notes on one stave crashing into high notes on the stave below, make this number higher to increase the space between the two staves.
The System distance setting increases or decrease the distance between groups of instruments in your score. Increase this number if it’s difficult to see where each system starts and finishes.
But nothing’s happening!
Sometimes when you alter the Staff and System distances you may find that there’s very little change to your score layout. This is because MuseScore’s Page fill threshold may be affecting the settings.
The Page Fill Threshold is a justification setting. Think for a moment about writing a paragraph in a Word document. Each of the words in the paragraph is separated by a single space. However, if I was to justify the paragraph, the words are spread evenly across the width of the page, creating a nice straight line down both sides. Now when I look at the words in the paragraph, some of them seem to be separated by more than one space. This is because the justification setting is taking precedence.
The Page Fill Threshold in MuseScore works in a similar way. When your page is 70% full or greater, MuseScore will spread the staves evenly across the length of the page. This means that you will end up with music starting and finishing at the same point on each page of your score which is desirable.
So if you’re trying to adjust the Staff or System Distance settings and you find they’re not doing what you want them to, you might need to increase or decrease them further, or consider changing another layout setting.
Small problem areas
If you’ve looked for a layout setting that works for your entire score, but still find you have a problem area or two you might be able to use the Staff Spacer in the Breaks and Spacers Palette. The Staff Spacer allows you to manually increase the space between just two systems in your score.
For instance, there’s not quite enough space here between the bottom system and the one above it. To increase the space I can click on the Breaks and Spacers palette and drag the Spacer across to this system. Next, i’ll double-click on it and drag the handle at the bottom downwards until I’m happy with the space.
There are a number of other settings in the Style > Edit General Style > Page menu. Most of them are self-explanatory, but if you’d like a full description of what each one does, visit the online handbook.