Studio-style bar numbers in Finale


Last week I described how to create studio-style bar numbers in Sibelius, like in this example, with bar numbers on their own non-playing staff, boxed, with a single line:

You can do it in Finale, too — in fact, the above example was created in Finale. Here’s how.

First, if you haven’t upgraded to Finale 25, you’ll want to do that. Beginning with the 25.2 maintenance update, Finale has included a Studio Orchestra template, which gets you most of the the way there already. Not only does it have boxed bar numbers on every bar, it sets large time signatures in the score and oversized time signatures in the parts, and has standard page headers and footers that you’d expect to find in such a score.

To create a score from the Studio Template, go to File > New > Document from Template… and select the Orchestral Templates folder. If you have Finale 25.2 or later, you’ll see the Studio Orchestra.musx file. Select it and finish setting up your score in the usual way.

By default, the bar numbers in the template appear below the bottom staff, floating in the middle of the bar.

Let’s go to Tools > Measure > Edit Measure Number Regions to explore those settings. You can easily re-create these yourself if you’re using a version of Finale earlier than 25.

Show on Every 1 Measures Beginning with Measure 1 is checked, and so is Enclosure…

Click Edit… to see the enclosure settings:

Notice that Rectangle is selected for the Shape, and that Opaque is checked. This will become useful later. (All measurement units are in spaces.)

Clic OK to go back to the previous dialog and, in the same area click Set Font… Take note of any settings or adjust them to your liking.

Click OK to go back to the previous dialog once more, and now click Position…

Right now, the bar numbers are set to be 17.5 spaces below the staff. We’ll want these to be in the middle of the staff, so drag the box up into place:

Next, go to Document > Score Manager > Instrument List and click Add Instrument. Choose Common > Blank Staff > Blank Staff and drag it into place — here, I’ve placed it above the strings.

For the Staff, choose 1-line with Short Barline. For First Clef, choose the empty clef, as above.

While it’s not necessary, you should click Full Name… and name the staff Bar numbers or something similar so that you can recognize it later in lists and dialogs.

Close the Score Manager.

Go to Tools > Staff and double-click on your new blank staff to open the Staff Attributes dialog for that staff. Uncheck Display Rests in Empty MeasuresStaff Name in Score, and Time Signatures in Score so that these items don’t appear in your score.

After you click OK, you may notice that the bar numbers are not displaying on this staff in your score, even though Measure Numbers is checked. That’s because a setting in Tools > Measure > Edit Measure Number Regions is overriding it. Let’s go back there now.

In Show On: uncheck Top Staff and Bottom Staff. Exclude Other Staves will automatically be disabled but you can uncheck it beforehand if you like:

Finally, you’ll need to make sure the bar numbers only show on your blank staff, and any of the other staves. You could go through the Staff Attributes for each staff and uncheck Measure Numbers, but a faster way is to go to Plug-ins > Scoring and Arranging > Global Staff Attributes…

With all the staves selected, uncheck Measure Numbers.

Click Apply. Now, find the Bar numbers staff that you created earlier and select it only. Check Measure Numbers.

Click OK (it is not necessary to click Apply first), and enjoy your new studio-style bar numbers in Finale!


  1. Ziggy

    thank you… this was awesome!

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