Creating a dotted vertical line to indicate simultaneity

I want to create a vertical line to indicate that two things are simultaneous, as in the attached screenshot from Sibelius.

(Why? This is sometimes necessary to indicate precise timing between metered rhythms and items whose timing is inherently imprecise, usually because the timing is indicated by position, e.g. grace notes, pedalings, dynamics, and spatial notation. It is also helpful for mutual cueing between chamber players who are reading off the score. The attached screenshot is an example of both: the dotted lines show a free-rhythm singer and a metered piano where they should line up.)

The closest solution I’ve found is here: I’ve experimented with this solution, and it poses a bunch of problems:

  • There’s no way to make gliss lines dotted.

  • It’s not possible to attach a gliss to two simultaneous, vertically aligned notes. That’s clearly correct for a gliss, but for this purpose, it forces me to give one endpoint a fake attachment to a neighboring note. This has two ill effects:
  • It messes up the note spacing, because Dorico leaves room for the gliss even after I’ve adjusted the fake endpoint to make the line vertical.
  • Because one endpoint is always attached the that neighboring note, the line does not stay vertical when note spacing changes.

  • It’s impossible to attach the gliss to two notes on different staves, so one end keeps getting out of alignment as staff spacing changes.

I’m guessing that this is just beyond Dorico at the moment, but is there any better way to fake it?

I’m struggling to think of a good solution, I’m sorry to say. Generic line-drawing tools are definitely in Dorico’s future, but not its imminent future.

The best solution at present is a PDF editor. I’ve had a lot of success with Acrobat Pro for these sorts of things, though I’ve never tried this exactly.

Daniel posted something recently… a link to a font with some really cool arrows and fancy lines. Can’t remember the name, but it was fascinating. Because the point is to use a font, not a graphic, so that the quality is lossless (probably not the right term for that…).

You could try something like this font:

Use one of the lighter weights, and make a capital “I.” You could do it directly in Dorico, I’m sure. For a longer line, you might need to line a couple of them end-to-end.

I’ve made a paragraph style based on default text, but changed the leading to 30%. The line is just dots separated by CRs (Enter) using shift-x …

Fratveno’s hack preserves verticality and allows me to adjust the height, so I’ll go with that. Not ideal, but it gets the job done. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!

Sorry, Complete Noob here: I’ve created a dotted line of sorts using ALT 0166 in Arial; the problem is that I need it to cross the LH staff (see screenshot) and I do not know how to override the collision avoidance.

Is this staff text? If so, in the Properties Panel you should find an “Avoid Collisions” switch and tick box. Flick the switch on and untick the box.

Now that Dorico has vertical lines, is there a way to center their horizontal position on the middle of a note? As far as I can see, you can only align it to the left of the right of the note. Can it only be adjusted in Engrave mode?



You can adjust the horizontal position of a line freely in Engrave mode, of course, but you cannot change its default horizontal position such that they are centred on notes.

Thanx, Daniel. I will only add that I would find being able to center lines on noteheads very useful, to use them as synchronization marks.

I suspect that vertical lines can’t be added to percussion kits (that are often the origin of synchronization lines). Maybe it’s just me not being able to do it, but I’ve tried to add a vertical lines, and it never appears. All works fine with regular staves.


That’s correct, because a vertical line has to be note-attached, and at present they cannot be attached to notes in different instruments, as would be required to make them work in percussion kits.