Dynamic text in Sibelius


It’s snacktime again with Scoring Notes Snacks, where we take music notation software topics and make them into bite-size portions for you to enjoy. With Snacks, we’re keeping it brief and getting back to basics.

This one is about dynamic text in Sibelius. Learn how to quickly enter and modify dynamics with common shortcuts.

A transcript follows. Happy snacking!



Our topic is dynamic text in Sibelius. Text dynamics such as pianissimo and forte are a type of Expression text in Sibelius. The fastest way to create this type of text is to select the note where you want the dynamic, and type Command+E on Mac or Ctrl+E on Windows. Then keep the Command or Ctrl key pressed, and type the dynamic letter, such as p,  f, m, or s. The less common ones r and n also work.

For z, you’ll need to hold down Shift and Alt as well, so that you don’t trigger the Command- or Ctrl-Z shortcut for Undo.

You can type as many of these characters as you like. You can also right-click while the cursor is flashing to select the most common ones.

After you enter a dynamic, you can then release the Command or Ctrl key and continue to type anything you like as ordinary Expression text. Crescendo and diminuendo abbreviations have their own shortcuts of Command or Ctrl+Shift+C and D, respectively, so it’s very easy to create a combined expression such as piano – crescendo or forte – diminuendo.

You can apply a dynamic to many staves at once, by making a selection. Sibelius puts the dynamic on the first note that appears in each staff, even if they are at different positions.

You can change these dynamics all at once. Make a selection and filter the dynamics by pressing the shortcut Alt+Shift+D. Then press Return. The blinking cursor will appear, and you can change the dynamic by typing something.

Another way to change dynamics is to use the Change Dynamics plug-in, which comes with Sibelius. You can get to it by searching for it in the Ribbon. This plug-in is a quick way to change all of your dynamics one level louder or softer. If you’ve put in your dynamics as ordinary text and you wish to change them all to dynamic text, you can use this plug-in to do that, too.


  1. Derek Williams

    Thanks Philip!

    I thought I knew Sibelius “all the way to the back fence” but I always learn new tricks from reading your blogs. Two favourite takeaways for today, the Change Dynamics plugin I’d been unaware of, and the shortcut Cmd+Shift+C/D for crescendo / diminuendo. Very useful.

    1. Philip Rothman

      I’m happy to hear it, Derek! There’s always more to learn. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Peter Roos

    Oh, couple of things I didn’t know (like dynamics followed by crescendo or diminuendo) – very useful. Thanks Philip.

    1. Philip Rothman


  3. Blair Thomson

    Great video Philip. Is there a shortcut for inserting a dynamic marking (example “ff”) at the end of a hairpin crescendo accompanying, for example, a whole note? For example, within a 4/4 bar we begin playing a whole note with “pp” and finish the bar with a “ff” but do not cut off on the first beat of the succeeding bar. Graphically, we have “pp + crescendo hairpin + ff” underneath a whole note within a bar. Adding the fortissimo aways feels like a workaround and , moreover, impedes workflow.

    Many, many thanks for all that you do.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi Blair,

      No; what you’re looking for is essentially what is possible in Dorico. If Sibelius were to ever support this in the future, the most reasonable way I think would be through Command Search so you could type pp<ff, or if someone devised a plug-in.

      dorico dynamic

  4. Blair Thomson

    Hmmmm….Thank you, Philip. No time to learn Dorico as intriguing as seems to be; I’ll keep pluggin’ away while awaiting plugin.

  5. Abby

    Is anyone else having troubles with entering dynamics all at once for an entire column (all voices)? I highlight the measure in each part, then whether I click Ctrl+E or go to the Styles button on the top ribbon, the cursor appears above all parts for just one second, and then disappears before I can type anything.

  6. Eduardo Diez

    Hi Philip,

    Thanks so much for this. I’m trying to replicate the workflow you’re showing at the beginning of the video but I can’t figure out how to go back to selecting notes after inputing a dynamic mark. After using Cmd+E and let’s say typing Cmd+P for piano what are you pressing then? It looks like you’re pressing escape and then some combination of a modifier key and the up arrow?


    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi Eduardo – Yes! Press Esc, and then Tab to advance.

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