Center align notes in 'single note bars'

Hi, there.

Another noob question (?):

I’m using Dorico for tests, exercises, games, etc. etc. a lot. While I already have lots of Finale files for this I’m trying to get everything into Dorico and getting to know it better.

So today I’m making Flash cards and want to align every note in the center of the bar. I can do it in Engrave mode manually but was wondering if there is a setting to do it automatically. Should that be a layout option? In regular scores there probably wouldn’t be a use for it…

Couldn’t find it in the manual or on the forum so please don’t k*ll me…

I think this is already a feature request many people want. For example, it is very common in Baroque music. Would be great to have.

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I just tried and this is pretty easy to set up to have it all automated so you don’t have to manually move notes.

  1. Make sure you have your Page Template setup the way you want so you won’t have any overrides later on. Use the Default template for all pages.
  2. In Layout Options / Players, set the rests not to show. In LO / Page Setup, set the page number to show on the first page. In LO / Note Spacing, set the “only justify final system” to 1% to make sure it will fill the frame. In LO / Staves and Systems, set the Casting Off to 1 bar per system.
  3. In the first bar, input a time sig of 1/4, then Hide it in Properties.
  4. In Notation Options / Barlines, set whatever default barline type you want. I used a double bar here, but it probably doesn’t really matter.
  5. Input the quarter notes you want in each bar. (Obviously if you want half or whole notes, you just need to change the meter in step 3)
  6. Now there will be a bit of trial and error. Once you have everything set up the way you want, in Engraving Options / Spacing Gaps adjust the “#2 Minimum gap after barline” setting so your notehead is in the middle of the bar. This obviously will be dependent on all your other settings, but here’s what I used:

After all that, I have 3x5 flash cards with no overrides or manual moving of notes:


thank you @FredGUnn !! Especially for taking the time to make a test project for it :slight_smile:

The last step was what I was missing. I was searching for a “center” option in the menu’s and windows but the “gaps” is exactly what I needed.

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@Andro Did not know it could be useful for other purposes :wink:

Indenting and centering notes in measures that have only a single note in them is the norm in fine engraving and should be an option in Dorico.


/slightly out of topic
FWIW, it’s rather common practice in classical music to center whole notes on the bar, when it’s totally filling up that bar. I remember it was a feature request some years ago. It’s probably an abandoned practice because it would only appear when all instruments play that note that fills the bar— I genuinely wonder whether it’s centered or whether it’s the bar length that is so small that it looks centered… /slightly out of topic over

Elaine Gould has a little bit to say about this (on page 41 of Behind Bars):

Notes of bar-length duration - Copy

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In case it’s of interest, here’s a different example of notes being centred within a bar:
Polly-Wolly-Doodle_(Student’s_Songs_1884).jpg (917×1853) (

As @Andro noted earlier, it is very common in Baroque MSS…

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I have been forced to fake this single-note centering with manual spacing since Finale 1.0, 35 years ago. I first asked for it as a feature 20 years ago, in Sibelius days. So far Daniel has shown no interest.

I would advance one further argument in favor of this: The last time I saw Daniel in person, in November 2016 in New York for an early Dorico demo, he said Dorico aimed to set music more like traditional engraving practice, leaving aside the quirks in music software that have accumulated. I resisted complaining yet again about this one point, but it persists.

(And regarding the previous two posts, we see this in manuscripts as late as Chopin and Wagner. I’m not advocating that, when there are other beats in a bar.)

I’m not advocating for it at all. When I see it my brain just has to work harder!

If Dorico will ever provide this function I’m curious who won them over:

Flash-cards VS Chopin

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