Linking and unlinking staff and part names in Sibelius


An essential element of Sibelius’s dynamic parts feature is the ability to make certain changes in a part without affecting the score. This is most evident in the positioning of objects as well as clef changes and instrument changes, to name a few. But this also extends to the ability to have different names for instruments in parts than what they are in the score. This useful feature has its intricacies and comes with a few caveats, so we’ll explain what those are and how to make the most of the available options.

Linked names

When dynamic parts are first created, every staff in a part has the same Full Instrument Name and Short Instrument Name as the corresponding staff in the full score. Also, the Part Name, as displayed in the File > Info area for each part will be the same as the Full Instrument Name.

There is a linkage between the Full Instrument Name in the Score, the Full Instrument Name in the Part(s), and the Part Name, which can be represented like this:

Full Instrument Name in Score Full Instrument Name in Part(s) Part Name

If none of these has been changed since the parts were created, changing the Full Instrument Name in the Score will change the other two elements to match.  This linkage can be broken, however. If you edit a Part Name, changes to the Full Instrument Name in the Score can still affect the Full Instrument Name in the Part(s), but it will no longer affect the changed Part Name. The linkage now looks like:

Full Instrument Name in Score Full Instrument Name in Part(s)  X  Part Name

If you change a Full Instrument Name in the Part(s), changes made later to the Full Instrument Name in the Score will no longer affect anything else. If the Part Name has not been changed, changes to the Full Instrument Name in the Part(s) will still affect the Part Name, thus:

Full Instrument Name in Score  X  Full Instrument Name in Part(s) Part Name

But if both the Full Instrument Name in the Part(s) and Part Name have been changed, there is no linkage at all, and changes to any field will not affect any other fields.

Full Instrument Name in Score  X  Full Instrument Name in Part(s)  X  Part Name

If you have mistakenly broken a link, the only way to restore the linkage is to delete the affected part and create a new one. Any formatting changes that had been made to that part will be lost.

There is also a linkage between the Short Instrument Name and that name in the parts containing that staff. As with the other linkage, if you change the Short Instrument Names in a part, then changes to the Short Instrument Name in the score will no longer affect that name in the part.

Short Instrument Name in Score Short Instrument Name in Part(s)

Other linked items

Besides the Part Name, any of the values in the File > Info fields in the full score (such as Title, Composer, etc.) are linked to the equivalent field in the part, unless you edit the field in the part, which will break the link. Until Sibelius 2020.6, if you made this edit in the part, this link was permanently broken. Fortunately, an improvement was made in 2020.6 whereby deleting the text entirely in the field will restore the part’s link to the score.

If you change properties in a part, such as coloring or hiding a note, moving the position of an object, or changing the accidental for a note, the change will only affect the current part, and will not change the Full Score or any other part that contains the staff that was changed. When possible, make changes in the Full Score, and avoid breaking the linkages unless you definitely want something to be different in the Full Score and Part.

The problem with duplicate part names

If multiple parts have the same name, and you do not notice this and do not change the names, you will encounter problems if you export files that include the Part Name in the file name. This will happen when exporting parts as PDF and when extracting parts. The problem is that each part with a duplicate name will overwrite any earlier file with the same name, and you will have fewer files than you would expect, and some poor flute player will have no music.

Some plug-ins will also have problems with duplicate parts names. Open Selected Parts did not work because the parts names were put in a list box, and if there are duplicate names the plug-in could not tell which one to use (due to limitations in how listboxes work in a plug-in).  I resolved this by adding numbers to the end of duplicated names, but it is awkward at best, and I had never noticed this was a problem before. I suspect other plug-ins might run into the same problem.

It is easy to create multiple parts with the same part name. For example, if you add two flutes to a score, the Full Instrument Name in the Score, the Full Instrument Name in the Parts, and the Part Names will all be “Flute”. If you change the Full Instrument Names in the Score to Flute 1 and Flute 2, this will change the Part Name and all will be well.

The only fix for this is to be sure you have no duplicate part names, which can be tricky to determine in a large score.

Checking for duplicate part names

The downloadable plug-ins Open Selected Parts and Edit Part Names have buttons that will check for duplicate part names. Edit Part Names also has an option to prevent you from changing a name so that it becomes a duplicate. If you have either of these plug-ins installed, run it and have it check duplicates before you print out parts.

Plug-ins that let you edit staff and part names

There are three downloadable plug-ins that will let you edit the staff Full and Short Instrument Names or the Part Names, for all staves or parts in the score in one place. Changes made by the plug-ins can affect other names, depending on the state of the linkage.

Edit Instrument Names lets you edit all the Full and Short Instrument Names for all staves in the full score. Such changes will update any linked instrument names in parts that include the changes staff, and any linked part names.

Edit Part Instrument Names lets you edit all the Full and Short Instrument Names for all staves in the full score, and also the Full and Short Instrument Names for staves in parts that include those staves. If you change the names for staves in parts, those names, and the corresponding linked part names, will no longer be linked to the staff names in the full score.

Edit Part Names will edit the Part Names for all the parts in the score at one time. It has logic to check for duplicate names and to prevent you from accidentally creating duplicate names. If you change any part names in this plug-in, those part names will no longer be linked to staff names in the score or parts.

So there it is. Everything is connected until it isn’t. I hope this will help explain why these things might go wrong, and help you avoid those situations.


  1. Peter Roos

    Very useful — thanks Bob.

  2. Galvagno Michele

    It seems that you have used the same picture for Edit Part Instrument Names and Edit Instrument Names.

    Great article, though!
    Thank you!

    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi Michele, thanks for catching that error. All fixed now.

  3. Mark P

    I created a problem while moving through score pages with mouse (click and drag), I accidentally grabbed hold of Vln. II part name and dragged it into the score. Now I cannot remove it. The image remains there in the centre of my score, while it’s missing from the left column of the stave (throughout the entire score) where it belongs…very frustrating.
    Does anyone know how to fix this?
    THANK YOU VERY MUCH in advance!

    1. Michele

      Have you tried to select the misplaced object and reset its position? Cmd/Ctrl-Shift-P
      Alternatively you could:
      1. select the misplaced object, delete it
      2. select the first bar of the document from the score
      3. right-click on an empty space around it to invoke the context menu
      4. choose Text > System Text > Instrument names (at top left)
      5. write exactly (without double quotes) “\$partname\”
      6. press escape
      This will recreate the object in all layouts.

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