Making Finale’s output look more like Sibelius (and vice versa)


If you use both Finale and Sibelius, you might find yourself wanting to achieve consistency in the output from both programs. Here are a few tips to tweak your Finale settings to look more like Sibelius’s defaults, while still using fonts native to each program.

(This is not to imply that Sibelius’s defaults are perfect, but we may as well use them for reference. You can use the same principles to achieve the opposite — that is, make Sibelius look more like Finale — or mix and match to suit your own house style.)


First of all, try switching the Finale default font to Maestro Wide (Document > Set Default Music Font…). This looks more like Opus, Sibelius’s default music font.

As mentioned in this post that translated orchestrator Tim Davies’s Finale tips into Sibelius, in Finale, text point sizes are relative to an 8.467 mm staff, while in Sibelius, text point sizes are relative to a 7.0 mm staff. The Finale reference staff is thus 21% larger than Sibelius’s, so whatever point size your font is at in Sibelius will need to be multiplied by 1.21 in Finale to approximate the same size.

Sibelius uses a default size of 12 pt. for Expression text and Technique Text, and 13 pt. for Tempo text. Multiplied by 1.21 for Finale, this would equal 14.5 for Expressive Text and Technique Text, and 15.7 for Tempo Marks. Finale only supports integers for text sizes, so you’ll have to round to 14 and 16, respectively, in Document > Category Designer:




Clefs, key signatures, and time signatures

Sibelius uses a “Gap before initial clef” setting of 0.75 spaces and and “Initial clef width” of 3.5 spaces. The best way to achieve this in Finale is to go to Document > Document Options > Clefs. For “Before Clef” enter 0.75. For “After Clef” enter 0.5. (Make sure that “Units” is set to “Spaces” at the bottom of the window.)


In Document > Document Options > Key Signatures set both “Space Before Key Signature” and “Space After Key Signature” to 0:


In Document > Document Options > Time Signatures set “Space Before Time Signature” to 0.25 and “Space After Time Signature” to 0, for both the score and parts:



In Document > Document Options > Barlines here are the settings that will approach the Sibelius defaults (in spaces):barlines


Stem options are found in Document > Document Options > Barlines. Adjust the “Stem Line Thickness” to 0.1 spaces.

Staff lines

In Document > Document Options > Lines & Curves you’ll find options for adjusting the thickness of lines. Change both “Enclosures” and “Staff Lines” to 0.1 spaces and “Thickness” for leger lines to 0.16 spaces:


For further fun

As you may have guessed by now, Document > Document Options is the general Finale equivalent of Appearance > House Style > Engraving Rules. It also encompasses note spacing, which in Sibelius is found in Appearance > House Style > Note Spacing Rule.

For text styles, go to Finale’s Document > Category Designer, which is the equivalent of Sibelius’s Text > Styles > Edit Text Styles. It also affects default positioning and playback, so you can also find equivalents for Sibelius’s Appearance > System Objects > System Object Positions and Play > Interpretation > Performance.

Slurs and hairpin settings in Finale are found by clicking on the Smart Shape tool and exploring the various menu items there, such as Slur Contour, Smart Shape Placement, Smart Shape Options and Smart Slur Options. Compare these to the Lines and Slurs options in Sibelius’s Engraving Rules and see if you can adjust settings to your liking.

There’s much more, of course, with respect to articulations, page layout settings, brackets, braces, and on and on. Perhaps a future post will cover these items. In the meantime, have fun and start fooling your friends by asking them to compare your scores (the screen background, clefs, and accidentals are the most obvious “tells” here):




  1. Jason

    Love this! Never really liked the default Finale look – looks too thin, and sometimes tends to strain the eye. Sibelius looked “softer” and “warmer” (if that makes any sense…). I will be making most of these changes to my Defaut Finale settings.

  2. Gerry

    Just tried these parameters, but found they were much too big. When I changed the value of line thickness from the default 0.00624 to the suggested 0.1, the staff became totally blacked out. Should the new value be 0.01 instead? Also, how do I make the changes permanent? When I did the suggested settings (putting an extra zero after the decimal point) they looked fine, but when I opened a new document, all the settings went back to the default.

    1. Gerry

      D’oh. It’s a good idea to read the manual. I can now see how easy it is to set up new document files, etc.

  3. inquiring mind

    Is it possible to do a similar article to this about making Finale look more like Dorico? I feel like with every advance Dorico is on the fast track to becoming a future industry standard all the way around for the next generation, but for right now, I’m just too comfortable with Finale to learn a new software from scratch and I’m impressed with Dorico’s overall look, so if I could deliver the same — or very similar — results using a software I am increasingly more familiar with, I’d be a happy camper.

  4. Enrique Sanchez

    Forgive me for being dense or blind, of the final examples, which is Finale and which is Sibelius?

    1. Philip Rothman

      No problem, Enrique! The top example is Sibelius, and the bottom one is Finale.

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