View 2-page spreads in notation software and PDFs


Essential to any good printed part layout is the page turn. In the introduction to a three-page discussion on the topic, in her music notation reference Behind Bars, Elaine Gould says that “the timing of page-turns is one of the most important aspects of organizing an instrumental part. Plan page-turns around the longest available rests.”

The easiest way to check for good page turns on-screen is to view the music as a two-page spread. A two-page spread is simply two facing pages designed to be viewed at once, generally with the even-numbered page on the left and the odd-numbered page on the right.

(Related: Working with page numbers in Sibelius; How to fix a common page numbering problem in Sibelius; Working with master pages in Dorico, part 1 and part 2)

A two-page spread

When you look at a two-page spread, you can quickly scan the bottom right-hand corner of the right page to look for adequate rests.

All of the major desktop notation applications offer an option to view music in this way. Often it is the default view, but in the event it’s not, we’ll quickly run through each application, and also show you how to view PDFs this way in Adobe Acrobat and Mac Preview.


Go to View > Document View > Spreads and choose either Horizontally or Vertically, depending on which way you prefer to scroll through the music. A helpful tool-tip appears for each option.

You can also select these options from the status bar at the bottom of the screen.


Dorico is exactly like Sibelius here. Be sure that View > Page View is selected first, then choose View > Pages  and either Spreads Horizontally or Spreads Vertically.

There is also a status bar option.


Finale calls spreads Book Style. Go to View > Page View > Page View Style and choose any of the Book Style options depending on your preference. Row is equivalent to Sibelius/Dorico Horizontally, and Column is equivalent to Sibelius/Dorico Vertically.


If Page View is selected from the File Operations toolbar, the music will display as two-page spreads in MuseScore.

Adobe Acrobat

At NYC Music Services we routinely receive PDF files to print. These files have already been formatted — or so we hope. Often it’s useful to run a quick visual check on the files to make sure that the page turns are correct.

In Adobe Acrobat, you can view two-page spreads in the same way as the notation programs. Just be sure both of these settings are enabled:

  • View > Page Display > Two Page View (or Two Page Scrolling)
  • View > Page Display > Show Cover Page in Two Page View

If you don’t enable the latter option, the page spreads will start with page one on the left and everything will be totally thrown off.

Preview (Mac)

In Preview (Mac only), go to View > Two Pages (shortcut: Command-3). The spreads will display correctly.

Now that you know how to view music this way in all of these different programs, start spreading the news!


  1. User

    Capella notation software calls spreads “Order of pages”. Go to View > Order of pages (shortcut: Ctrl+E) and either order pages below each other (in 1-10 columns) or next to each other.

    1. Philip Rothman


  2. Mike Dana

    Hi! I’m trying to subscribe to the newsletter/digest…entered my email and hit “subscribe” but nothing happened. I was thinking I should get a confirmation email? (I got one for the “notification” option previously.)

    Thank you so much for the great information! So glad I discovered this. :)

    1. Philip Rothman

      No worries, Mike, you’re all set!

  3. odod

    hmm .. i am not quite fond the “trifle” font, since the “L” is really attached with the f, and i guess nowadays Norfolk is widely used on major engraving .. props to you mr philip

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