Go wild with text wildcards


OK, so they may not be as exciting as they sound, but if you aren’t already using them in your Sibelius files, wildcards can open up many new possibilities. Sibelius doesn’t include them for things like title, composer, and copyright in its default manuscript papers, so in this brief video tutorial I describe how to insert them so that your text will update automatically in all instances where wildcards appear:


(If you’d like to skip the short ad in the video for our upcoming Sibelius training sessions in New York City on August 16, just start the video at 0:36.)

For further reading about wildcards, I highly recommend Daniel Spreadbury’s post on this blog from a few years ago, Robert Puff’s post on his blog “Of Note,” and, of course, section 5.16 Wildcards in the Sibelius 7 Reference.

A rough transcript of the video follows.

Hi everyone it’s Philip at NYC Music Services back with another tutorial.

This one is about using text wildcards in Sibelius.


Wildcards are text tokens that are automatically substituted with text from elsewhere. They’re useful for situations where you want the same information to be shown in lots of different places, allowing you to change that information once and have it updated automatically everywhere else. They’re also useful for showing different information in the same place automatically.

First, let’s create a new score. We’ll set up our time and key signatures, and type in some text in the Score Information Setup section.

Once we create our score, we see that the text has populated on to the first page of music, as well as the title page, if we’ve elected to create one.

Take a look where else the text has populated: the Backstage area, which we get to by going to File > Info. (In Sibelius 6 this is found in Score info in the File menu.)

Let’s go back to our score. Suppose we wish to change the title of our composition. I could double-click and type a new name on the title page, but that doesn’t propagate to the first page of music, nor does it affect our file information.

This is where wildcards can come in handy. A complete list of wildcards is listed in the Sibelius Reference, in section 5.16. There is quite an extensive list, which can be used to great advantage. You can even apply formatting to your wildcards, so if you think you have good reasons to use wildcards in your score, I’d encourage you to read more about them.

For now, let’s enter in the wild card for TITLE. All wildcards start with backslash dollar-sign, then the name of the wildcard, then another backslash. Hit the Escape key to exit the text area. Let’s do the same for the first page of music.

If I wish to change the title later, I would go to the Backstage area, and change it there. Now the title is automatically updated in all instances where the wildcards appear.

I’ve set up shortcuts using a text expander program so that I can quickly enter common wildcards without typing the whole string. There are many programs that can do this, but I’m using QuickKeys. My particular shortcuts are the letter “x” followed by the first three letters of the wildcard, but you could use whatever you like.

You can see how wildcards can be useful as page headers and elsewhere in your document. Once a text area contains a wildcard, Sibelius will prompt you if you attempt to edit the text area, asking you if you don’t intend to edit the data in the Backstage area instead.

I hope you found this brief overview useful.

Thanks for watching, and hopefully we’ll see you on August 16, 2013, for our training sessions at Juilliard in New York.

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