On the margins: Headers, footers, and footnotes in Sibelius


An important part of printed music is the text that doesn’t appear within the staff lines at all. Let’s get down to business and go over headers, footers, and footnotes — three types of text you’re likely to encounter on the margins of the page.


Headers are a type of system text — the kind of text that appears in every part. But unlike tempo text or rehearsal marks, which appear at positions relative to the music, headers appear at fixed positions on the page.

You can see this for yourself by going to Text > Styles > Edit Text Styles, finding a style like Header or Header (after first page) in the list, and click Edit… . Click on the Vertical Posn tab. The Snap to top or bottom of page radio button is selected, meaning that the text will always appear at the position on the page you specify.


Next, click on the Horizontal Posn tab. This is where you tell Sibelius where on the page to place your header. In this case, the text will be aligned to the inside edge of the page.


Now, click on the Repeat tab. This is where you tell Sibelius to repeat the text on left pages, right pages, or all pages. If Repeat on were to be unchecked, the text would only appear on a single page (like titles, composer name, copyright notices, and the like). Hidden on first page will do just that: hide the text on the first page on which it is placed.


Why would you want to hide a header that you’ve just placed? The reason is a very important (and not entirely intuitive concept) in Sibelius: All text (except for blank page text) is attached to a bar. You will typically want to place all “page” text, such as titles, composer names, copyright notices — and headers — attached to the first bar of your score. The exception is usually subtitle text which might appear at the beginning of a movement a ways into your score.

So even though you might have header text using the Header (after first page) text style which doesn’t actually display until page 2, you’ll still want to place it on bar 1.

To do that, select the first bar of your score, go to Text > Styles, and choose your text style you wish to use. Here, you can see that I’ve made use of a number of text styles on the first page, and to illustrate I’ve added the name of the text style underneath.

The dashed line shows that they’re all attached to the first bar, and the lightened styles — Header (after first page) and Header (after first page, inside edge) — means that those styles won’t actually appear until the second page of music.


Now, when I go to the second page of music, I see those two styles which were hidden on page 1:


Note that the text style Header (after first page, inside edge) appears on the inside page of music — and since page two is a left-facing page, the text appears on the right. On page 3, the text would appear on the left.

In this particular example, I’ve made use of wildcards behind the scenes, so that I can re-use the same template and fill in the data in File > Info.


Footers are really nothing more than headers placed on the bottom of the page. The main difference is in Text > Styles > Edit Text Styles > Vertical Posn, where from bottom margin would be selected instead of from top margin.

Footers are excellent for placing revision or edition numbers at the bottom of a score, particularly if you’re “hot-swapping” certain pages of a piece. Here, we’ve tagged the file with the revision date on each and every page, using the Footer (outside edge) text style:



Footnotes may seem similar to footers, since Sibelius lumps them both into the Headers and Footers category in Text > Styles. But they’re different in two key ways:

  1. Footnotes won’t appear on every part. That’s because they’re not system text; they’re staff text, and thus only apply to the staff to which you’ve attached the footer.
  2. Footnotes can’t repeat on multiple pages; they only appear on the same page as the bar of music to which the footnote is attached appears.

If you’ve ever footnoted a term paper in a word processor like Microsoft Word, you’re familiar with the concept of footnotes. Footnotes in Sibelius aren’t quite as intelligent, but they can serve a useful purpose to explain a technique or add additional information about a passage in certain circumstances:


If you can see the faintly grey-colored dashed line, you’ll notice that the footnote is attached specifically to the clarinet staff at the particular bar where the footnote is to appear.

Page numbers

You might be wondering about page numbers, which seem like they would be another kind of header or footer. That’s an entirely reasonable assumption, but Sibelius treats page numbers quite differently and uniquely. Fortunately, there’s already another blog post about that!


  1. Andrei

    Very helpful, as is your blog post about page numbers… Thank you!

    1. Philip Rothman

      I’m glad you found it useful, Andrei!

  2. Koen Brandt

    Thanks for this post, it is really helpful. I have a question in this regard. After inserting a “Header after first page inside edge”, I can see it greyed out on my score on the first page, but it is also visible when I print it out. As is the first page number, which is greyed out too. I must be doing something wrong :-)
    Thanks for your help!

  3. Ed

    I am simply trying to get the title of the song to stay on the sheet music. I shows on the screen but once you save it the title does not print out on the score. I have put it in Title, Subtitle and every place I could see but it goes gray on the screen and will not print out.
    Please advise. Thanks,

  4. Ray Morris

    I know that there is a way to add the copyright information to an existing score but today have already spent ten minutes unsuccessfully looking for it.

  5. Kevin

    Same problem as Ed above, Title goes grey and will not print with the score. Any tips on fixing this?

  6. Alex

    Doesn’t work for me. I select note or bar, I go to Text > Styles > choose “Footprint” from the list, and nothing happened: cursor doesn’t change, nothing appear in the bottom of the page as well.

    I need actually to add in the end of the scores (last page) footptint, but not as text, but using small stave, like Ossia Staff.

    1. Alex

      Yes, I got it. It works. But it’s only text. I need to add on last page music note interpretations. They should look like separate Ossia Staffs.

  7. Pierre

    Hello, is there a way to make Sibelius avoid collisions between footers and music ?
    Thanks • Pierre

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