A problem with system spacing I can't seem to resolve

The pic is of a string quartet. Page 2 (with 3 systems) is as I want it. Page 3, for some unknown reason lays out only 2 systems.
Pages 4 and 5 are back to 3 systems per page. Then page 6 has only 2 systems again. It goes on like this throughout the score.
Is there any way to copy the format from page 2 to these renegade pages?

I could change the spacing by hand to make way for a 3rd system as long as the entire score re-formatted to fill up the gaps but I don’t want to end up with even more work. It would be better to scrap this score and reload the xml otherwise.

I’m pretty certain it formatted as page 2 throughout after the first page when I loaded it so it’s probably something I’ve done by mistake.
Any help would be appreciated.

Have you tried putting system breaks and frame breaks — and then using the properties “wait for next…”? Everything is under your control then…

I’m not as advanced with Dorico yet to do things like that. But here’s an opportunity to learn. I’ll save the score as some other name and give it a go.
Thank you for the advice.

You’re welcome. It’s as easy as selecting the last barline of each system and pressing shift-S or shift-F in Engrave mode to input system breaks or frame breaks. Then select each signpost that needs some tweaking and apply the “wait for next…” as needed.
Then you’ll have the right number of systems per page. But you loose all the automatic power of Dorico.
The next step is to modify your layout options >Vertical spacing >ideal gaps to make sure it’s exactly as you want.

The reason some pages have 2 systems and others 3 is due to Dorico’s casting off calculations. It’s possible that on the pages with 2 systems, those systems have just enough high/low notes or additional notations that each require extra vertical height to nudge their % fullness too high to accommodate 3 systems, at least according to Dorico’s calculations.

If you consistently want 3 systems on each page, you can set a fixed casting off. But I would also recommend spending some time getting to know how vertical spacing settings work, and in addition to the explanations in the manual, there is a great video on this by my colleague John.

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I would reduce the staff size. Looks a bit large as is.

Lillie_Harris, notesetter,

Many thanks for the additional help. I investigated whether there was something in the music that forced wide spaces (like a keyswitch overlooked) but nope; and I tried reducing the space size between staff lines, also no…
The simplest solution turned out the one about the "fixed cast offs per page in Setup/Staves and Systems.
Peculiar, though, that it happened at all, the first time in three flows of the same pattern.
Even so, it was a good lesson in exploring Dorico. One picks up a lot more en route - thanks to the kind help I’ve been given here.

If you turn off fixed casting off, switch to Engrave mode, and choose Staff Spacing in the toolbox on the left, you’ll see a frame fullness indicator at the bottom right of each page. You can compare those percentages between the 2 system and 3 system pages to see the difference.

Reducing the relevant ideal gaps (which are really minimum gaps) between staves should help, as would decreasing the minimum gaps between staves/systems with content (like dynamics etc).

(For more general info about this area of the app: If you search the forum a bit, you’ll find discussions/explanations of the circular calculation issue Dorico runs into when laying out pages. Different bars will have different content, note height etc, so Dorico doesn’t know how high each system will be until it knows which bars are in each system. But the vertical spacing is also influenced by the horizontal spacing - at some point a line has to be drawn, and sometimes that means one fewer or one too many systems get put on a page.)