Working with page numbers in Sibelius


Have you ever tried clicking on a page number in Sibelius in order to edit it, only to be confused when you couldn’t select it? Do you wish you could display page numbers in the center of the page instead of on the right and left edges? Are your page numbers so small that you need a magnifying glass to see them? Do you want to just get rid of your page numbers altogether?

If you’ve lost sleep over this, or even if you’re less neurotic but are still looking for the answers to these questions and more, read on.

Changing or hiding page numbers

Many tasks having to do with page numbers are accessed by the dialog box at Text > Numbering > Page Number Change:

Page number change

It is worth noting that every Sibelius score has automatic page numbers, which cannot be deleted. By default, the first page number is hidden.

If you want to hide all the page numbers in your score, you’ll find that you can’t select these automatic page numbers and hide them in the way you can with most other objects. Instead, you’ll have to do this through the Page Number Change dialog, first by selecting the first bar of your score, and then switching on Hide page numbers.

(You can also do this in reverse: with nothing selected in your score, access the dialog and make your selection. Click OK to exit the dialog. The cursor will be blue, meaning that it is “armed,” and then you can click the location where you want the action to take effect. In fact, this is the only way you can apply a page number change to a blank page such as a title page, or a page inserted for the purposes of a page turn – more about that in a moment.)

Want to show that first page number that was automatically hidden? Choose the Show page numbers option.

Any changes made through this dialog will be recognized as a page number change that overrides the automatic page numbers, which means that the page number is now selectable and can be hidden by clicking on it and choosing Home > Edit > Hide or Show (shortcut Ctrl+Shift+H or Command+Shift+H). Any page number changes can also be deleted by selecting the page number and pressing Delete — but keep in mind that by doing so you have merely reverted to Sibelius’s automatic page numbering, and not deleted the page numbers entirely.

You can start your music on a page number other than 1 by checking New page number and entering your desired page number in the box, and then applying the page number change. If you decide, say, to start the page numbering at 2, Sibelius intelligently recognizes the page as an even page and will adjust the placement of header and footer text accordingly.

Incorporating title pages and blank pages into your numbering scheme

Should you wish to add title pages before your music, do it in the usual way by choosing Layout > Document Setup > Title Page. Sibelius will start numbering from the first title page, so if you have, for example, inserted 4 title pages, the first page of music will be page 5.

Here’s a complex case that is easily handled by Sibelius. Say you have, in order:

  1. A title page with no page number
  2. A blank page to be printed on the reverse of the title page, with no page number
  3. Four pages of prefatory material which you would like to number i-iv
  4. The first page of music, which should be page 1, but for which the first page number should be hidden

Follow all that? Here’s how to do it:

  1. With nothing selected in your score, choose Layout > Document Setup > Title Page and add 6 blank pages
  2. Again, with nothing selected, choose Text > Numbering > Page Number Change, uncheck New page number and select Hide page numbers. Click OK and click on the first title page
  3. With nothing selected, choose Text > Numbering > Page Number Change, select Format: i, ii, iii…, check New page number and type “i” and select Show page numbers. Click OK and click on the first prefatory page (the third page of your document)
  4. Now select the first bar of your score. choose Text > Numbering > Page Number Change, select Format: 1, 2, 3…, check New page number and type “1” and select Hide first page number. Click OK

You can start to see that the innocuous-seeming Page Number Change dialog is really quite powerful!

If you happen to insert a blank page somewhere in your music (by choosing Layout > Breaks > Special Page Break), Sibelius will retain your numbering scheme through the blank pages, unless you choose to override it by adding another page number change.


  1. Bernie Cossentino

    Hello Philip,

    Nice blog on the page numbering. I always use the header’s wildcard for my page numbering (thus hiding the default page #’s). The only thing that bothers me is when I proceed to add new instruments to an existing template (or score) that contains said wildcard header. As you may well know, newly added instruments default the page numbering scheme independently. Thankfully, one can delete (i.e. copy into buffer) and repaste the header wildcard from the master score so that they’re reapplied throughout all parts. However, I still have to go back to each new instrument part in my score and hide the default page numbers all over again so that they don’t overlap with my custom headers.

    Maybe you have a better (one step) approach around this? Granted, although I have both versions, I’m still using Sib 6 more than 7. Perhaps this was improved in Sib 7?

    1. Philip Rothman

      Bernie, that’s a good question, and I have encountered it as well. I can’t think of an immediate solution other than what you’ve done.

  2. Cliff Bradley

    Hi Bernie, I’ve just been trying to work around the same problem. The solution (hack) I found was to download the Adobe Blank font (free) and then set it as the page number font in Sibelius (edit text styles…). The default page numbers then display blank and won’t bother you whether they’re hidden or not. Of course, the caveat is that anyone else opening your sibelius file would also need the blank font installed, or the numbers will re-appear again. (not perfect, but a start I guess…).

  3. Declan

    I didn’t have any luck using the methods you suggested on 7.5 so I changed the font colour to white. Thanks anyway! Appreciate the tips here.

  4. vivien arnold

    Hi, I have been working of Sibelius Student 6 for several years. Am now trying to publish an opera but the publisher wants all the music files (each musical number is a separate file) without page numbers. I don’t seem to have any ‘change page numbers options’. Can anyone help?

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