Sibelius plug-in: Float Rests


Good music notation practice says that when beams are placed over rests, it is the rest that should be displaced in order to accommodate the beam in its normal position, not the other way around. Yet in Sibelius, this is impossible to achieve by default:

float rests 3

Finale users have long enjoyed the ability to set this globally (Document > Document Options > Beams > Allow Rests to Float), but Sibelius users have always had to manually re-position the rests.

Bob Zawalich’s new plug-in, Float Rests, will automatically move all the rests contained within a beam group so that the beam is positioned normally.

float rests

After running the plug-in, our example is transformed:

float rests 4

Keep in mind that if your music changes, you will have to run the plug-in again or move your rests manually, so it’s a good idea to run this plug-in near the end of your layout and formatting workflow. Bob offered a couple of other caveats: “Rules for note layout are complex, and the plug-in will not always get the position correct, so please check the output visually,” he said. Also, “the plug-in will not attempt to change positions of rests in bars with multiple voices or in bars with cross-staff beamed notes. These are just too hard to figure out.”

Even with those warnings, Sibelius users will surely be excited to open this present at this time of year.

Float Rests may be downloaded directly through Sibelius 7 at File > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins > Engravers’ Tools. Users may also install it manually in Sibelius 7 by visiting the plug-in download page and following the usual manual installation procedure.


  1. Bill Conable

    It’s not in Notes and Rests, it’s in Engravers Tools.

  2. Bob McCauley

    Just curious, does stemming the rest cause trouble in the operation of this plug-in. Should that be done before or after you run it?

  3. Chris

    Actually, it appears the plugin is listed under “Engravers’ Tools”, not “Notes and Rests”.

  4. Bob Zawalich

    The plugin does not adjust for stemlets, so it does not matter when you do it. It probably should account for them, but the behavior is not especially obvious. For 8th rests, it seems to be the same whether there are stemlets or not, but, for example, 16th rests with stems down are adjusted correctly, but stems up are a line too low. And even if the plugin took them into account, adding or removing stemlets would require a readjustment. I will look into supporting stemlets when I have a chance.

    Bob (who wrote the plugin)

  5. Philip Rothman

    Bill and Chris: Thanks for the eagle eyes. Fixed!

  6. Matthew Maslanka

    I wanted to thank Bob for continuing to put out exceptionally useful plugins for our favorite software. This has been a minor annoyance for years and it never occurred to me to seek out an automated solution. Well done!

    For extra bonus points: beamed-over rests will often default to flat beams (it has to do with how far they are away from the rest, usually 1-2 spaces). Most of the time, you’ll need to adjust the beam by hand back to the correct angle (Ross’ recommendations are still pretty solid). Bob — feel like tackling this one?

    Extra super-duper bonus points: don’t break secondary beams when beaming over rests. This helps keep the figure’s rhythm more self-evident.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Matthew: Regarding beam angle: have you tried unchecking “Also for middle rests” in Engraving Rules > Beams and stems > Beam Positions?

      Regarding secondary beams: can you adjust the Engraving Rules > Beams and stems > Beamed Rests to your liking?

      1. Matthew Maslanka

        Well how about that! “Also for middle rests” did the trick. I have never played with that option before — it’s not exactly obvious what it does. Thanks!

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