Video tutorial: Optimize staff spacing


Are you manually dragging staves up and down to make room for items in your score that are too close together? Have a look at this new video tutorial on optimizing staff spacing automatically in your Sibelius scores.

A transcript follows.

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

This is a quick one on optimizing staff spacing, and it works in Sibelius 6 and higher. I happen to be using Sibelius 7.

When we say optimize staff spacing, what we’re really talking about is having Sibelius automatically and intelligently work out the ideal amount of space that should be allocated for each staff, across the width of the system.

Now, Finale users may be familiar with the term “optimize” in Finale 2010 and earlier, but that refers to a method of hiding staves, which is different than what we’re describing here.

So here I have a score, and the vertical spacing is tight. You can see a dynamic colliding with the staff below it, slurs that are intersecting, tempo marks being pushing off their horizontal axis by Magnetic Layout, hairpins popping into strange places, and on and on.

Fortunately, all I need to do to correct this is select the systems in question, or you can select the whole score if you like, and choose Layout > Optimize Staff Spacing.

All these errors are automatically corrected, leaving you with a much more pleasing look to your score. Of course, you can further adjust the staves manually if you like, in the usual way, by dragging them up or down.

Optimize Staff Spacing can be effective whether or not Magnetic Layout is enabled, but for best results, you’ll probably want to leave it enabled.

If your music changes, you’ll want to run Optimize Staff Spacing again, as the vertical spacing of the staves will not automatically update.

Also, you can control the amount of horizontal and vertical distance Optimize Staff Spacing should try to leave between objects on each staff, by going to Appearance > Engraving Rules > Staves.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you liked this, be sure to visit the Sibelius Blog for many more tips and tutorials, and of course visit NYC Music Services on Facebook as well. Thanks for watching.


  1. John Minshull

    Thank you for that information I will try it on my next piece, will it also space solfa terms when I add them to the Old notation?

  2. Avitin Comlan Jonah

    This is a very important tutorial for us as a music scholars, God bless u as you do this for us.

  3. Ron Puente

    Steve: Great info as usual. Question: when you optimize the entire score does this action affect the individual parts? If not can each individual part be adjusted? Thank you in advance. Ron

    1. Philip Rothman

      Ron: No, doing this on the score will have no effect on the parts.

  4. cetto

    in lingua italiana ?

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