Perfecting page layout in Finale


This video series is part of Conquering Finale, a regular feature on Scoring Notes, with new installments released periodically.

Perfecting page layout

Lesson 1 (basic): Perfecting Page Layout Introduction

In this introductory video to the Page Layout Tool, I explain some important concepts that will help understand the rest of the lessons in this series. Including the important distinction between a Staff and a System as Finale defines them, the different ways in which the music can be scaled on the page and the critical difference between the Page Layout Tool and the Page Format window from the Document menu.

Lesson 2 (basic): Page Size and Page Margins

Changing the page size or orientation in Finale (0:24) is relatively easy once you know how to do it. Page Margins (8:50) are a little more complicated but not terribly so. I will show you how to use the tiny, yet mighty Edit Page Margins window (11:31) and how you can change the margins directly by dragging the margin handles (23:16). Throughout all of this, I will discuss the interplay between these local adjustments using the Page Layout Tool and globally using the Page Format window.

Lesson 3 (intermediate): Page and System Scaling

The size of the music relative to the page is an important aspect of laying out your music correctly. In this video, I’ll discuss the options available for achieving this relative scaling by exploring Page and System resizing or reduction. This can be achieved globally in the Page Format window but also locally through a couple options in the Page Layout Menu. There’s also a brief discussion about using the Resize Tool to invoke the Page or System Scaling windows (16:51).

Lesson 4 (intermediate): System Margins and Spacing

Master Systems in Finale and you will master formatting your scores and parts in Finale. Buckle up for a long, but worth-while journey that starts with a basic overview of why the system margins are built the way they’re built in Finale and ends with you understanding how to manipulate systems individually and globally in powerful and efficient ways. The key to all of this is the mighty Edit System Margins mini-window (2:08). The default margins and spacing for systems are set in the Page Format window (15:46). We can also change the margins and distances by dragging the systems or the system handles (18:45). There’s a brief discussion about System Space Before/After Music (23:58). And lastly, there’s a lesson on what the sneaky “Avoid Margin Collisions” option does (28:22); this option is important for things like Coda systems.

Lesson 5 (intermediate): Space Systems… (Evenly…)

There are two tools in Finale that allow you to automatically space your systems evenly on the page. The first, and more limited tool, is the “Space Systems Evenly…” option from the Page Layout Tool (0:33); the second, and much more useful tool, is the similarly named “Space Systems…” plug-in (6:43) which is part of the built-in plug-ins that come with Finale. The “Space Systems…” plug-in does exactly what the “Space Systems Evenly…” function does except a lot better, so if you wanted to skip to the plug-in part of the video, I wouldn’t blame you!

Lesson 6 (intermediate): Inserting and Deleting Systems

When your formatting is set and your systems are locked, using the Insert Systems function is usually a better choice than choosing to Insert Measure Stacks when adding measures. Insert Systems is fairly simple to use but there are some interesting side effects that are important to know about. There’s an extensive discussion (starting at 3:25) about what happens to staff spacing and baseline offsets when systems are inserted or deleted; there’s a slight inconsistency in how Finale handles them when Insert or Delete Systems is used. I’ll also show you a couple of plug-ins that can help quickly resolve those issues (10:25).

Lesson 7 (intermediate): Page Breaks

In Finale, there is a wrong way to do a page break, and there is a right way to do a page break. For some users, the wrong way seems to be what they figured out first. So for this video, I decided to show you why the wrong way is less than ideal and then show you the right way—which happens to be much easier! I also discuss what happens when you try to add or delete measures or systems before or after a Page Break (4:49).

Lesson 8 (intermediate): Blank Pages

Inserting Blank Pages in Finale is not all that tricky. But how they interact with Text Blocks can sometimes be confusing, so the majority of this video is actually about how to make sure your Text Blocks are appearing in the correct places when you add Blank Pages. Blank Pages will also reverse your left and right Page Margins if you’re using a Facing Pages setup where the margins are different for left and right pages. I’ll show you a nifty trick to quickly fix this (8:01).

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Page Format vs. Page Layout

I’ll take the time to explain how the Page Format window and the Page Layout Tool interact with each other because it’s not at all obvious, and misunderstanding it is the main reason why people run into the dreaded situation where new pages or systems don’t match the existing ones.

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Listen to the podcast episode

On the Scoring Notes podcast, David MacDonald and Philip Rothman talk with Jason Loffredo about preparing music for the world of musical theatre and his Conquering Finale video tutorial series, which can help you better master that sophisticated software, whether you’re a new or long-time user. Listen now:

Scoring Notes
Scoring Notes
Conquering Finale with Jason Loffredo


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