2 Sibelius plug-ins: Retract Line Ends and Replace Symbol


Bob Zawalich just keeps coming up with ways to make our lives a little less tedious, at least when working in Sibelius. He’s recently created two new plug-ins that may save you time on common tasks while working in some scores.

The first of these plug-ins, Retract Line Ends, pulls back the right end of lines that end at the start of the next bar. The line will then terminate at the end of the previous bar. The plugin can process hairpins, octave lines, trills, and ending lines, and it can work on any or all of these types at once, in one step turning this:

before lines

into this:

after lines

This is especially helpful when working on scores created in Sibelius 4 and earlier, where the problem of the hairpin extending over the bar was a Sibelius default, resulting in hairpin “stubs” at the beginning of systems (like at the start of the first example), and in scores created before Sibelius 8.1, which fixed the problem of repeat ending lines being too long by default.

Retract Line Ends is available for download here, or directly through Sibelius at File > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins > Lines.

The second new plug-in, Replace Symbol, simply replaces one symbol with another in the score. Amazingly, this was not possible to do in Sibelius until now. According to Bob:

You can choose the name of a symbol that is in your score to be replaced, then type the name of the replacement symbol. If the replacement symbol is also defined in the score, you can use the Copy text button to avoid retyping.

The symbol name is cases sensitive and must be typed exactly as defined in the Insert Symbol dialog. Note that some symbols have the same name, and this plugin cannot differentiate between such symbols.

Handy in a case, say, where a composer meant to write a snap pizzicato, but instead used the symbol for thumb position:

snap 3

Run Replace Symbol:

replace symbols

And the result is:

snap 2

Replace Symbol is available for download here, or directly through Sibelius 7 at File > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins > Other.

Thanks, Bob, for make all of our lives a little easier and allowing us to get out and enjoy the sunshine once in a while!


  1. Andrew

    Sounds very useful, but isn’t the “corrected” first time ending line in the example a bit short? Surely it should reach to the first part of the repeat barline?

    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi Andrew,
      I knew someone would catch this! Good eye. (Also, I prefer that trill lines not exist at all on single notes.)

      My thinking was, the plug-in result is better than the Sibelius default where the ending lines collide. The plug-in would help in “quick fix” situations, and then further adjustment might still be necessary — although far less than without using the plug-in.

      Maybe Bob can issue an update to get better results for ending lines.

  2. Bob Zawalich

    It is unfortunate about the end repeat barline, but, for example, if you select all the notes in a bar, and then add a first ending line, you will see it ends up at the same location where the plugin puts it. Sibelius leaves extra space for the barline and it is outside the “rhythmic width” of the bar. The plugin could possibly add some “non-rhythmic space”, like the X values in the inspector, but that would not scale if the bar changed size.

    So there is nothing better the plugin can do for this situation. It will just need some manual intervention. I do note that if you have a single barline, the line goes right to the barline.

  3. Andrew

    Thanks Philip and Bob – as you say, not perfect but at least a help. It would be nice if Sibelius could sort out these default line lengths properly, but I guess there’s not much hope of that in the foreseeable future..

    Bob, I thought you’d retired from writing (publicly-available) plug-ins. Have you had a change of heart?

  4. Bob Zawalich

    Hi Andrew,

    I used to do them regularly, but I have to say that I still despise Avid, and prefer not to do anything that can be helpful to them.

    Sometimes I write a plugin for myself or a friend and think it might be useful, so I offer it to the community. But is is nowhere near as often as it used to be.

  5. Matthew Hindson

    The lines thing is going to save me AGES and from immense frustration. The amount of time I spend correcting these with 8va etc. markings…

    Thanks very much Bob, that’s legendary.

  6. Karen Desmond

    Hi – thanks very much for the replace symbol plugin as it will be very useful for me – we have a bunch of scores that used a short pause that we want to convert to caesura and there are other global replaces we want to make too. However, when I run the plugin on the entire score it says no symbols found, even though there are lots of symbols in the score. Can you tell me why that might be happening?

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