Dorico PDF reference manual now available [updated]


This post, originally published on December 29, 2016 on the occasion of the publication of the first version of the Dorico reference, has been updated to reflect the publication of the new reference, encompassing improvements to the software up to Dorico 1.2.

If you’ve been looking to catch up on reading material over the holiday season and new year, no doubt you’ve thumbed through our recent 2017 year-in-review.

But if notation software reference manuals are your thing, here’s a present you’ll enjoy: the latest version of the Dorico guide is now available to download as a PDF, and the online reference has been updated to match, encompassing improvements to the software up to Dorico 1.2.

An excerpt from the Dorico reference manual

If you are a fan of the whimsy and occasionally irreverent style of the Sibelius Reference, the Dorico guide will strike you as dull by comparison. Don’t misunderstand — it is easy to follow and logically structured, following strict conventions that align with the references for Steinberg’s other products. Many topics clearly label a prerequisite, procedure, and result to get you easily on your way to sorting out a problem or learning about a feature. But apart from a discussion on Dorico’s conceptual design or a brief etymological digression about the meaning of the word “caret” (p. 98), if amusement is what you’re looking for, you’ll have to search for it elsewhere — though careful readers will be rewarded with a bit of the old-style humor (humour?) in the section on changing the size of clef changes.

The manual is much more exhaustive than where it stood a year ago — at 732 pages it compares to the 855-page Sibelius Reference or the 1,344-page Cubase tome. Still, product marketing manager Daniel Spreadbury says:

This Operation Manual is not yet complete: Play mode is not yet documented, some parts of Engrave mode are not yet documented, and we also plan to go back over Setup and Write modes, as well as provide some more introductory/tutorial material. However, this update does add hundreds of pages of documentation in the section we call ‘Notation Reference’, which details how you create, edit and work with all of the different notations within Dorico.

The Dorico guide is a comprehensive, well-organized resource that, when read together with viewing the growing cache of tutorial videos on the official Dorico YouTube channel, will leave you in a strong position to make the most of the new software. Daniel said that this updated documentation is available in PDF format and in English only for the moment. They anticipate that the remaining material will be complete early in 2018, at which point updated, complete localized versions in German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, and Russian will be produced.

I’ve written here how the Sibelius Reference is an important resource, and that reading a manual on a tablet is a fine way to have such useful information at your fingertips. The Dorico manual follows in that tradition; its bookmarks, index and internal links make it easy to navigate, and it is well on its way to being an exhaustive, authoritative resource for the burgeoning software. I’m glad that Steinberg is fully supporting the concept of an offline manual for Dorico.


  1. David Rieuwerts

    Is the free trial of Dorico still available and if so is the offer only open for a limited time?


    1. Philip Rothman

      Yes, the free trial is still available. I’m not aware of plans to make it unavailable.

      1. David Rieuwerts

        Thanks Philip.

  2. Bob

    I miss Daniel’s “whimsy” and commentary, but like you said, the info is there, and it’s nice to finally have PDF manual. Thanks for the heads-up, Philip!

  3. Robert Puff

    Thank you for this timely post, Philip.

    I agree that the availability of the Dorico manual offline is a plus for end users – I appreciate Steinberg’s policy of providing downloadable reference guides for their products, which means I won’t have to be working within Dorico to access reference information.

    Being able to look specifics up on my tablet when away from the computer will be great.

    Thank you again.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks, Robert!

  4. John

    The Dorico manual was always available offline.

    If you are not online when you use the Help > Dorico Help (F1) it will open an offline version of the same documentation using a local web server installation on your computer. Apart from the address bar you might not even notice the difference – unless there has been an update to the online version and it is more up to date.

    1. Philip Rothman

      John, thanks for this additional info! That’s good to know. It’s the PDF book format which is especially appreciated, as well.

  5. Leo

    The Link on the top of the article to the Dorico reference guide isn’t working. Here is a new one:

    1. Philip Rothman

      Thanks, Leo. Today I’ve updated this post, originally published in December 2016, to reflect the significant updates made in the reference.

  6. Frédéric Vogel

    Pourrais-je savoir quand il sera possible d’avoir le manuel de référence de Dorico en français? D’un utilisateur français!


    Frédéric V.

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