How to fix a common page numbering problem in Sibelius


Most books and music scores follow a long-established convention that right-hand pages are always odd-numbered and left-hand pages are always even numbered, and that the first page should not show a page number.

Further, pages commonly appear at the outside edge of the page, making it easy to flip through the corners of pages in search of your place in the score.

We print a lot of music at NYC Music Services, and I’ll usually prefer that files arrive to us as PDF files so that there are no problems with incompatibility of fonts or software versions. When pages are numbered as described above, it makes it easy for us to print and bind the music correctly.

But often I’ll get music that deviates — unintentionally — from the above conventions. Sometimes I’ll see scores that start on page 2, and — confusingly — sometimes the 2 (an even number) appears on the right-hand side of the page.

What’s going on?

Here’s how it likely happened, and how to fix the problem.

First, we have a default score in Sibelius.

You can see the gaps which indicate the spreads; if your score doesn’t display this way, first make sure that View > Panorama is switched off, then, in View > Document View choose Spreads > Horizontally (you can also choose this icon in the status bar).

Perhaps along the way you’ve decided to add a title page by going to Layout > Document Setup > Title Page.

Sibelius considers your title page as page 1, making your first page of music page 2 — and keeping that number hidden in the process. Not good!

We do often see the above scheme in part layouts, in order to better accommodate page turns in certain instances, or for parts where the music only fills two pages. But it would be quite unusual to set up a score in this manner.

No problem, you think — you’ll just add another title page. This is what you were going for anyway so that your title page is the first page and then on the next page you can add other prefatory information like instrumentation and program notes. Except…

Notice how the first page of music is still numbered page 2, except it’s on the right-hand side, and the second page of music is numbered page 3 on the left-hand side — totally opposite of convention.

At this point you may be like…

Don’t despair! Instead, simply select the first bar of music and head over to Text > Numbering > Page Number Change. If you haven’t opened this dialog during your Sibelius session, just click OK using the default settings:

This resets the page numbering back to page 1 on the first page of music in your score, making everything correct once again:

A score formatted like the one above will print perfectly on double-sided paper.

After all that, if you decide you don’t want your title pages anymore, just click on this icon — technically a Special Page Break — and press Delete to remove the title pages:

For more Sibelius page numbering tips, check out an earlier post on this blog and don’t forget about Bob Zawalich’s Page Numbers plug-in.


  1. Bob Zawalich

    Thanks for the clear explanation, Philip. These kinds of problems are often non intuitive and hard to figure out, so sometimes a step by step tutorial is just what you need.

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