Sibelius plug-in: Impose Sketch onto Template


curranThis blog post is written by Tom Curran, composer, arranger, orchestrator, and musical director. In this post, Tom describes his new plug-in, Impose Sketch onto Template, a tool to transfer the structure of piano-vocal, MIDI exports, or other sketch scores onto full orchestral scores.

Updated December 21, 2016 for information about version 3.01.

The inspiration for writing this plug-in came out of a conversation with a colleague of mine. We were working on a theatre production and sharing our frustration about the time-consuming process of having to manually copy out the structure of a piano-vocal score into a template file before the contents can be pasted in. From my experience working in theatre, it’s very common for the initial piano vocal score files created by the composer or arranger to be separate from the template file used by the orchestrator from which parts are then generated by the copyist.

The only real way of getting the structural information from one score to another is to manually copy the attributes of every bar, including time signature changes, key signature changes, tempo text, system symbols and lines, changes to the bar numbering etc. Once this information is in the template file, only then can you copy the actual contents of each stave across. There just had to be an easier way of doing this seemingly simple task, so I decided to immerse myself in the ManuScript programming language and try to write a plug-in that could help.

The plug-in is called Impose Sketch onto Template, and it automates the process that I’ve described above. The primary use in mind was for theatre copying, but after sharing a first version of the plug-in with a small group of colleagues, it became clear that it would also be of use to those that need the structure of a MIDI import score on a clean template, or simply for any Sibelius user who wanted to extract the bar structure from one score into another file.

The current version of the plug-in (version 3.01) includes the option to actually import the sketch staves to the bottom of the template file, and also the option to add their contents too.

There is the option to transfer the title and subtitle of the sketch score to the template file so long as those fields are utilized in File > Info. This update also separates the metronome mark and metric modulation text styles from the standard tempo text so that they can be selected independently, and adds the option to select Timecode. Sketch score brackets, braces and barlines will now correctly transfer to the template file if the option to add the staves is enabled. It offers a filename for the Save dialog box, and users are able to specify a filename extension for the template file in order to distinguish it from its sketch counterpart.

More detailed information can be found in the plug-in description, including information about setting up the template file correctly.

I hope that it will be a useful addition to many Sibelius users, especially for those that regularly find themselves having to manually copy large bar structures from one file to another. In case it’s of any use, here is a video showing what the initial version of the plug-in did:

Impose Sketch onto Template
may be downloaded directly through Sibelius 7 and higher at File > Plug-ins > Install Plug-ins > Other. Users may also install it manually in Sibelius 6 or higher 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. Michael Keefe

    This is a much needed addition to my work flow. I do this sort of manual copying all the time.

    Thanks, Tom

    1. Tom Curran

      Pleasure, Michael – glad it will be of use.

  2. André

    But I believe that all the above can be done as well by using copy and paste System Passage. That is how I do this. Or am I missing something?

    1. Tom Curran

      System copy/paste tends to wipe out system text in the destination file, unless you are clever about how you do it. If you’re looking to copy a structure into a file which has system text already set up, this plug-in makes the process far easier.

      1. André

        I see, it seems also a much cleaner way to copy the structure to a new score. I am sure I am going to use it.

  3. Bob Zawalich

    Very cool – thanks, Tom, for contributing this plugin to the Sibelius community.

    1. Tom Curran

      And thank you, Bob, for all the brilliant plug-ins of yours I find myself using daily.

  4. Simon Hale

    What a brilliant idea Tom! Just what I need too… Sadly I can’t seem to download/install it. I get the message “The Impose Sketch onto Template plug-in is already up-to-date” but yet it doesn’t appear in the list. I’m running 7.5.1. Has this happened to anyone else?

    1. Philip Rothman

      Simon, it happened to me, too. I thought it was just a glitch on my end. I’ll mention it to the Sibelius folks. Meanwhile, you should be able to download the plug-in from the web site and install it manually.

      1. Tom Curran

        Hi Simon, I’ve chased Sibelius about this and just heard back saying they will sort it ASAP. Philip is right, it seems to work if it’s installed manually.

        1. Simon Hale

          That worked! Thank you Philip & Tom – it’s an excellent addition to all the plug-ins.

    2. Joe Pearson

      Hi Simon,

      I’ve just fixed this issue at our end; it should now be possible to automatically download and install the plug-in from within Sibelius as usual.


  5. John Hinchey

    Great idea! Looking forward to trying it. What I always to is reorder staves on my target score to put the vocals and piano at the top, do a system copy of the source part bars 2 to end copy and paste into, target score, this retains all the system text and special barlines. I then copy and paste contents of bar 1. Then reorder the staves in the new score to the traditional score order. But this looks like it will save a few steps! Thanks!

    1. Tom Curran

      Thanks John – hope it will save you some time.

  6. Bernie Cossentino

    This is the sort of function that should already be in Sibelius by default.

    Great work Tom!
    Thank you :)

    1. Tom Curran

      Thanks Bernie – hope it will be a useful tool for your work.

  7. Nick Simpson

    Might have got the wrong end of the stick here, but when I have to expand a piano score, for example, for a bigger ensemble or orchestra, I just save it in another name and add extra staves. Takes about two minutes.

    1. Tom Curran

      Hi Nick – Sure, that’s one way of doing it. But when dealing with lots of piano vocal files/MIDI import scores, it’s far easier to have one template file with the required instruments and all document formatting & page layouts set to then impose information onto. It also makes the copyist’s life easier at the end of the process knowing that the files for score and part extraction will have consistent formatting.

  8. Bryan Harmsen

    I can only imagine how much time I would have back if this had been available when I first started writing music. Thank you so much for blessing us with this plug-in, Tom!

    1. Tom Curran

      It’s probably best not to think about it! Hope this will save you time going forward.

  9. Edward Trybek

    Fantastic plugin! Thank you for creating and sharing this wonderful plugin. I had been doing something similar with a fair amount of Keyboard Maestro trickery, but this is much slicker.
    One question, is it possible to change the default save directory? In Sibelius 6 it always seems to aim for the desktop.

    1. Tom Curran

      Hi Edward, It doesn’t look like the open/save menu paths can be set in Sib 6 in the same way that they can be in Sib 7 and higher. Hope you find the plug-in useful anyhow – I also tried a similar thing with Keyboard Maestro a while back, but found that it just wasn’t reliable enough.

  10. Pasquale Tassone

    Hi Tom:
    Thank you very much for generously sharing the fruits of your expertise. For most of us “older” composers it is nothing short of magic and the fact that you willingly share it is commendable.

    Again Bravo and thank you!!

    1. Tom Curran

      Thanks Pasquale!

  11. Tim Whalen

    This plugin is awesome, but it doesn’t seem to be working for me in Sibelius Ultimate. I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong, but I seem to be following your steps. All I get is added bars to the score I’m trying to impose the sketch onto

    1. Philip Rothman

      Hi Tim. 2018.4 broke Impose Sketch and some other plug-ins temporarily, but the 2018.4.1 update fixed it. 2018.5 also includes the fix. See if you have one of those latest updates.

      1. Timothy Whalen

        Fantastic! The update passed me by. Thanks as always, Philip!

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