Scale Notehead Sizes plug-in for Sibelius


Earlier on this blog, I wrote a tutorial with detailed instructions for how to create custom notehead styles of different sizes. There are several reasons why a user might want to do this, but by default Sibelius is limited to only a couple of options: either use the Small notehead style (Notations > Noteheads > Type > Small) or use cue notes, for which the scaling percentage is set document-wide in Appearance > Engraving Rules > Notes and Tremolos (and, it should be noted, it is not possible to apply cue note sizing to individual notes of a chord).

As demonstrated in the post, resizing noteheads is a relatively easy process in Finale. If you wanted to achieve the same results in Sibelius, you would have had to follow the steps in the tutorial — that is, until now.

Seeing an opportunity to benefit the Sibelius user community once again, Bob Zawalich created an ingenious solution to automate this multi-step process. As I mentioned at the end of last month’s tutorial, if you copy a passage that uses your custom noteheads and paste it into another document, all the attendant custom symbols and text styles from your source will transfer over into your destination document.

Bob “riffed” on this idea and within a couple of days had a working prototype. He then spent the next month refining and testing his plug-in, which became Scale Notehead Sizes.

The result seems like magic, especially if you understand what had to be done behind the scenes. Simply select any notes or passage, and run the plug-in. You’ll get a choice of notehead sizes in 5% increments, from 50% to 125% of the normal-sized noteheads:


Choose your desired size, and click OK. As is the case with several plug-ins, another temporary score, or data file, opens to facilitate the process (you can read more about it in the documentation that is provided with the plug-in). You may see the data file, along with the selected notehead style and a message informing you what has happened:


Click OK once more. Your selected noteheads in your original score have now been re-sized, and the new notehead style has been added to your document in Notations > Noteheads > Type for you to use again without needing to run the plug-in. If you did not make a selection at the beginning of the process, the notehead style has been added to your document, but no existing noteheads have been affected.

The plug-in will run in Sibelius 6 or later. In Sibelius 7 or later, the resized noteheads will inherit the music font used for the Common symbols text style. In Sibelius 6, the plug-in will use the Opus font, so if your document uses another music font like Inkpen or Helsinki, you’ll want to change the text style used for the re-sized noteheads (instructions are provided in the documentation).

There is one small Sibelius bug which may require a workaround after running the plug-in. Depending on your score and/or operating system, some panes in the Notations and Text tabs in the Ribbon may be disabled after running the plug-in. If this happens, you’ll get a cautionary message the first time this happens:


As the message says: simply click on the File tab to clear this problem.

Thanks to Bob for spending countless hours creating a solution for the benefit of the user community. The documentation provided with the plug-in goes into further detail about the mechanics of the plug-in and describes how to customize or create a new data file, should you choose to do so.

Scale Notehead Sizes may be downloaded directly through Sibelius 7 or later at File > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins > Notes and Rests. Users may also install it manually in Sibelius 6 by visiting the plug-in download page and following the usual manual installation procedure, or by using the Install New Plug-in plug-in.


  1. Tim Parkin

    A big thank you to Bob, for yet another great, useful plug-in.

  2. Stephen Begley

    Thanks Bob, the inability of Sibelius to handle 3rd party fonts in transferred files has caused a big headache for me and the publisher who cannot see these enhanced noteheads without a hack to their own version of Sibelius. This plug in would appear to circumvent this problem. You may, have single-handedly redeemed Sibelius, Bob. So thanks, really, thank You.

  3. Andrei

    Bob, you’re a treasure beyond words…
    A very big thank you!!!

  4. Kate

    This is great! I need bigger noteheads on worksheets for my students. When I changed the notehead size I lost the letter names inside the note head though… is there a way around this?

  5. Bob Zawalich

    The noteheads that are scaled by the plugin are all Normal noteheads (oval shaped, black or white); the Name Noteheads are completely different.

    I would recommend making the staff size bigger, which will also increase the notehead size. If you really need larger name noteheads in the same staff size, look at Philip’s original article which describes how to create them.

  6. Ben

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful plug-in! Quick question: is there any way this plug-in can modify not only the notehead, but the everything including the stem, beam, attached lyrics (percussion sticking, in my case), etc?

    I’m transcribing a drumming piece that constantly shifts between loud and soft dynamic levels, and I want to use large and small notes to show the two dynamic levels. Cues have proven to be a major headache, and I’m wondering if there’s any way else I can do this. Thanks so much!

  7. Bob Zawalich

    Sorry, but the plugin only replaces the symbols used for the noteheads themselves. It really has no way to access the other components of the notes or the lyrics – that would have to be a completely separate process.

    You might be able to figure out a way to use different sized staves (a large and small staff), if the changes were on separate systems. That is the only thing that comes to mind that would reduce the size of all the components.

  8. Linda Gould

    Love this plug-in!
    I would like to add note-names to the larger-sized noteheads but when I do the noteheads revert to a small size. If I increase the size of the notehead using cue-size then the rests are too large. Any suggestions?

  9. Roula Baaklini

    Ok folks, I have downloaded the suggested plug in for larger-sized noteheads and followed the instructions on how to make it functional, but for some reason, it is not working out properly. I use Sibelius 6.2. Am I missing something??. Many thanks in advance!

    1. Bob Zawalich

      The Data Score
      The plugin zip file contains the plugin, this document, and 2 data scores. One data score is for Sibelius 6, and the other is for Sibelius 7 and later. The Sibelius 6 file is called ScaleNoteheadPluginDataV6.dat, and the Sibelius 7 file is called
      Kind of late, but hey. In Sib 6 you need to put the data score in the correct location as described below.

      In Sibelius 7 or 7.5, the plugin installer will install the plugin, and put its data score (and the Sib 6 data score, which can be ignored or deleted) into the same folder where the plugin is installed, and put this document into a folder of Sibelius plugin documents.
      In Sibelius 6, you will need to download and unzip the zip file, install the plugin, and copy ScaleNoteheadPluginDataV6.dat into the same folder where the plugin is installed. Ignore the Sib 7 data score. (Both data files are actually Sibelius scores, but the .dat extension lets the Sibelius 7 plugin installer put the file in a known location).
      Once the data file is installed, do not delete, rename it, or change it (unless you know how).

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *