This blog post is written by Bob Zawalich, composer, guitarist, software designer, and creator of hundreds of useful plug-ins for Sibelius. In this post, Bob explains the concept of house styles in Sibelius and how to identify families of styles for use in your scores.
A Sibelius house style is a collection of properties that gives a score a characteristic look.
A new score is created from a Manuscript Paper built using a house style, which may be one that shipped with Sibelius or that that has been customized by a user to tweak some of the settings.
People often ask how to tell what house style a score is in, but other than immediately after a score is created, there is no good answer for that. One can later import bits and pieces of other house styles, and adjust fonts and styles manually, so that the collection of properties in the score quickly becomes different from the original house style.
Sometimes the properties of a score have gotten messed up in unexpected ways, and you can restore the appearance of the score by importing a standard Sibelius house style. But which style is the right one to import?
This post will explain how to identify which house styles a score most resembles, so that you might recover the appearance of your score by importing a house style.
House style families
The properties in a house style include several fonts used for text, symbols, and music, and these fonts largely determine how the score will look.
House styles can be grouped into families of similar styles, based on three fonts:
- The Main Music Font, used for noteheads and most music symbols;
- The Music Text Font, used for dynamics and some other music text characters; and
- A third font.
The third font should really be the Main Text Font, which is described as the font used for common text, like Title, Technique, and Plain text. However, that font is not actually used in most scores, and is not used to build the house styles Sibelius ships with. For the third font, we will use the font that the Plain text text style uses, which is really how Sibelius builds its shipping house styles.
You can see the Main Music Font and Music Text Font in the Edit All Fonts dialog, by clicking on the dialog launcher in Text > Format:
We will ignore the Main Text Font. For this example I intentionally chose a house style (Jazz Reprise) where the Main Text Font does not match the Plain text style font.
To find the Plain text font in a score you can either create a piece of Plain staff text, and look for the font in Text > Format, or go to Text > Styles > Edit Text Styles and edit (without changing) Plain text to examine its font.
Once you know the three fonts in your score, you can use that information to find a built-in house style that will work well with your score. Most likely, one of those house styles will be the one your score started from.
Knowing this can help if you want to reset a score to house style defaults by importing a house style, or for help in duplicating the format of a score you were given.
Identifying house styles that look like your score
The PDF file Tables of House Style Families contains lists of the three fonts present in each shipping house style. You can look at the tables of fonts in this document and find these house styles that contain the same three fonts as your score.
For example, if the main fonts in your Sibelius 7 (or later) score are the common set:
Main Music Font: Opus Std
Music Text Font: Opus Text Std
Main Text Font: Plantin MT Std
you will find these matching house styles:
House Style: Jazz Opus (Plantin)
House Style: Keyboard Opus (Plantin)
House Style: Larger notes Opus (Plantin)
House Style: Lead sheet Opus (Plantin)
House Style: Standard Opus (Plantin)
At this point you can decide which house style might be best to import based on the layout of your score and the name of the house style. It most cases it will be safe to import one of these without dramatically changing the layout of the score, but you should try importing the most likely style (or just try the Standard style, which is the most generic). If it makes obvious and undesirable changes, Undo while you have a chance to.
It is always a good idea to make a backup copy of your score before making a major change like importing a house style.
In my next post, I’ll show you how to import lines, symbols and noteheads without changing the appearance of your score.