Update: As of Sibelius 2022.5, the workaround described below is no longer necessary; the preferred method instead is to use the Repeat until next section end option in Text > Edit Text Styles > Repeat.
For songbooks, musical theater pieces, certain multi-movement works and other projects with multiple sections, it’s often helpful to have these contained in one file to minimize the effort expended in maintaining multiple files. Within each of these works, it’s customary to display the song or section title as a header on the top of each page, per song or section.
This is not as easy as it may first seem in Sibelius. To apply a header, you would typically select the first bar of the section, then add your header by going to Text > Styles and selecting the header of your choice. The header appears at the top of the page (unless you’ve changed the settings in the text style).
The problem is that Sibelius will display that header forevermore until the very last page of the file. There is no way to specify a page range or bar number range for a header — only the starting bar.
Let’s say we are using the Header text style as is included in a default Sibelius document. The header for the first section looks fine:
The second one, not so much:
And by the time we’ve applied the third header, we’ve got a mess:
You may think that switching on Erase background in Edit Text Styles > Header > Border > Shape will solve the problem:
But no such luck:
However, you’re on the right track — switching on Erase background is important, but a few more steps are needed.
You’ll need to make use of Sibelius’s sophisticated ability to set the drawing order of objects — the way one does in a graphics program. You can set up to 32 separate positions in the drawing order, in Appearance > Order. Simply sending an object to the front or back of the order is fine enough for most circumstances, but here we need to be more specific.
It’s important to know that a smaller number means a lesser priority in the order (back), and a larger number means a greater priority (front). Thus, 1 is the lowest and 32 is the highest.
This means that generally the order number of each header should correspond to its sequence in your file. Thus, set your first header to 1:
Your second header to 2:
Your third header to 3:
And so on. But, as you can readily see, there’s still a problem. Erase background only extends as far as the text will go.
The final step, then, is to choose Use fixed-text size frame — this is set in Edit Text Styles > Header > Border > Default Frame Size. You might experiment with settings that work for your house style, but for this example I’ve set the width at 100 mm and the height at 4 mm. It’s a good idea to select Vertical alignment > Center to make certain that bits of text don’t peek out from the top or bottom of the frame.
Finally, select your headers and choose Appearance > Design and Position > Reset Position to have any existing headers inherit these new settings (headers created afterwards will possess these settings upon creation).
What if you have more than 32 sections? That’s beyond the scope of this post! Until or unless Sibelius incorporates this feature in a more straightforward fashion (say, by setting the bar number range of a header), there are some clever workarounds offered over at this thread on the Sibelius chat forum, which is where the inspiration for this post originated.
One final bit of advice: If you ever need to determine to which bar a header is assigned, simply click on it and look in the status bar. In this case, I’ve selected the third header. It’s attached to the 191st bar in the piece, to which I’ve applied a bar number change, so it appears as 1 in the score. That’s why the status bar reads Bar 1 (191).