Distribute staves automatically?

I have a certain OCD when it comes to measurements and I really want my staves on a page in equal distances. Is there a way to distribute staves equally without having to position each one manually? In Finale there is a setting to distribute staves equally on a page. While Dorico is trying to be smart when it comes to spacing and collisions (which I appreciate) it doesn’t react to manual changes of items like rehearsal marks and huge gaps remain even if I moved these items out of the way.

What I would like would be either a general setting to distribute staves equally on a page/in a frame or a way to move selected staves proportionally (i. e. something like the current “Alt-Move” behavior where staves get out of the way but inverse, i. e. selected staves follow proportionally). I hope it’s somewhat clear what I mean?


I have the same OCD issue on certain projects that I do. Most projects, Dorico’s natural handling of events is PERFECT. But there are a few times, with certain projects, that I need uniformity, even if that means using more paper.


I don’t know an automatic method that would do that. But if the players do not change, no stave hidings… you can do the job manually once and copy the staff spacing in Engrave mode.
One particular method I find really nice — because of its precision and efficiency — is to enter the value between the stave (enabling Engrave mode Staff spacing mode). I click on the value between staves and enter directly the same value everywhere. This value depends of course on the number of staves, the kind of layout, and the space size, so I could not give you any hint about that specific value.
Of course I understand if we could just write that one value somewhere, it could solve automatically your problem. But you would lose some of Dorico’s magic (which I know you know…)

If you want staves/systems to be distributed evenly, then you are going to be happy to have less music on the page than would actually fit. Dorico will produce an even distribution of space, provided there is no pressure on the layout vertically; but as soon as there is some pressure, e.g. a high density of especially high or low notes, or many dynamics, or lots of rehearsal marks, etc., then Dorico will still produce a layout where things typically don’t collide, but where an even distribution of space is not possible, because that would produce collisions.

Generally speaking any unevenness in a page’s layout, especially in a part where you typically have systems consisting of only one or two staves, can be solved simply by shunting the last one or, more rarely, two systems onto the next page by way of a frame break. Another option is to use the Casting Off settings on the Staves and Systems page of Layout Options to tell Dorico that you prefer (say) 9 systems per page instead of 10.

The one way to guarantee an even distance between staves is to disable the collision avoidance for staves and systems on the Vertical Spacing page of Layout Options. This will produce an even staff/system spacing, but of course will make no effort to solve collisions. You’ll have to do that yourself using your own judgement.

Although you would obviously not want to have widely variable staff/system spacing in a part layout, even a reasonable amount of unevenness can be fine, and indeed can often be found in part layouts produced by experienced human editors and engravers.

Thanks for your reply, Daniel. I forgot to mention that I’m referring to single parts of single-staff instruments. Turning off automatic collision management works for me; I’d rather sort out the odd collision manually than manually adjusting staff spacing.

Still, what bothers me if automatic collision management is on is that even if I move rehearsal marks and any other text out of the way manually, the space between staves isn’t being adjusted automatically and a huge gap remains. The only way to alleviate that in a semi-automatic way was to decrease the height of the frame from the bottom and then increase it back to its original size again.

And on a related note: on a last page that is only half filled with staves I’d really like to drag the last staff down and have the other ones above follow proportionally, so the space between the staves increases equally. Currently, as far as I can see, I can only drag one staff at a time or multiple selected staves at the same rate, i. e. without increasing all of their spacing. Or am I missing anything?


That has bothered me, too. I tried to help Dorico by manually moving e.g. a rehearsal mark out of the way, expecting Dorico to then close the gap. But the space stayed wide open.
It would be great if Dorico could recognize manual changes before calculating collisions.

This happens to me too, although I find if I move an object in Write mode (changing its actual rhythmic position, in other words), then the staff spacing comes out much better than if I just move an object out of the way in Engrave mode.

Of course, sometimes it’s impossible or impractical to move objects in Write mode.

May I suggest to Dorico to add an option who gives a same distance between all the staves, but who also adjust this uniform distance so that we avoid collisions ?

Koenraad, can you explain what you mean a little more fully? On first reading you seem to be describing exactly what Dorico already does, automatically.

Thank you pianoleo.

It seems to me that in Dorico the distance between the staves is adapted in each system according to the collisions. So the distances between staves are different in the systems who have different type of collisions.
It should be useful for me if there was a feature who maintain one unique distance between the staves of all systems, this distance should be defined according to the system that requires the greatest distance between staves.

For example, I’ve a piano score. In Layout option, I enter a distance between staves of 9 spaces.
One of the systems has a collision that requires a distance of 10 spaces. The the desired option should give a distance of 10 spaces between the staves of all the systems.

I hope I’ve been clear enough ; excuse me I’m very bad in English.

Thank you. I now understand your request.

There is a global setting in Layout Options-Vertical Spacing, “Justify only when page is at least %% full”. If you set this percentage very low, you will basically always have justification. You can then drag the bottom of the frame up or down as desired.