Dorico places music very unevenly after frame/system brakes

When layouting orchestral parts, I find the behaviour kind of frustrating:

Orchestral parts have to be layouted by double pages because of the page turning positions. Dorico only allows forcing a frame (a single page) and not a double frame, which would be very helpful.

The greater problem is:
After inserting a frame (or system) break, the music is often displayed very unevenly: The first six lines in a page are extremely condensed, whereas the last line only has one bar, or something like that. Dorico doesn’t seem to be able to do an even layout after inserting a break.
Of course, I can add system breaks manually to solve this (and that is, what I do), but this results in me inserting nearly every system and frame break manually, which is very frustrating.

Does anybody have a solution for this? Any help would be appreciated!

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We would have to see a Dorico file to be able to help this kind of problem, whether adding a blank or title page at the start or whether increasing space size would accomplish what you want, which I take it is to set page turns.

Actually, the main problem is, that dorico places the notes unevenly.
As you see in the example: the upper lines are very condensed, the lower 3 lines leave the notes very much apart. Often, it is much more extreme.

This happens always in all parts / projects. Since I use maily the default settings, this seems not to be a problen of space settings.

Anyway, it results in me having to fix every break myself, wich is pretty painful.
Any solution to get dorico to do better layouts would be very much appreciated.

Set a Note Spacing Change at the start of the Flow, with a different value, to improve the fit across the page.

If the advice that @benwiggy has given doesn’t help, and you are using your default note spacing settings (have you actually tried resetting all your Layout Options to Default or Factory?), then we will need to see your project.

Unfortunately this doesn’t help.
In the example, you can see the problem (compare the last two systems).

I don’t know, if sending the project would help, because I have this problem on EVERY project and EVERY part. And I had this in EVERY version of dorico.
Doesn’t anybody else have this problem? If not: what am I doing wrong?
I never changed the default settings, and I can’t understand what consequences that should have.

Dorico IS able to make a decent layout, the problems only begin after inserting / removing manual breaks. It seems, that dorico doesn’t get right which bars/lines can be changed and which not.
On expanding whole pages it seems that the last 3-4 lines are stretched, the rest is leaven condensed.

I love dorico in many ways, but this is so frustrating…


It always helps and is generally quicker: it gives us the chance to fiddle!

Where did you put your note spacing change? I’m assuming the previous page? And what did you change it to?

Ok, where do I send it to?
I cannot post it publicly because of non-disclosure-agreements.

What doesn’t help? What have you done here? Have you applied a Note Spacing Change on that Flow?

You’ve got two Breaks there that probably aren’t helping. You can also look at the percentage fullness indicators. Add a break on one of the 90+% systems, and that should have a knock-on effect.

You can PM me a copy of the file, if you’d like.

for public domain schubert?


T. Wille

don’t start putting in System brakes by hand.
Remove all of them.
In your part: Go to the first note on a page.
Insert a manual Note Spacing change.
Try different values and watch your page.
You can change Note Spacing bit by bit for example from 4 down to 3 5/8.
Most likely there will be a value that works best for the next two pages.
After your next page brake (Frame Break) add the next manual Note Spacing change (for example from now 3 5/8 up to 3 7/8 or down to 3 1/2). Experiment, you will get nice results.
Don’t manually put in System brakes.

A second possibility is to slightly rise or decrease the Staff size after a Frame brake.
If you select the Frame brake, then open the bottom Panel and change the Staff size from 1.75 a little, may be to 1.7
The eye will not notice, but the slightly smaller system might help your layout.
At any Frame brake you can change this value again.
… not mentioning System Brakes on purpose …

T. Wille, you will get best results if you input your Frame Brakes only every other page (after the page turn) - so not at the beginning of every page…
In the case of your clarinet 1 part it musically does make sense to input the Frame Brake after the first page. Only do them where you really need them.

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This whole thread baffles me a bit, if I’m honest. Dorico has always excelled at layout compared to the competition, and I get very even spacing, on the whole. I suspect there are some issues with how you are approaching the whole task of layout. For instance, you’d never end up with that very stretched out bottom bar unless you inserted a frame break by hand. And normally when you do this, Dorico will reflow the few measures before automagically. So something seems amiss here.

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I’m a guitar player with only two hands. I’m learning to leave the spacing alone until the bitter end and I’m sure there will be no more notes to write. When I let Dorico be Dorico, it usually does spacing better than I can. My one constraint is that I use a 10" tablet, and I have to get all the non-stop music onto two pages no matter what. Dorico does that just fine, and I keep my reading glasses nice and clean.

Well, I am completely frustrated.
Of course, as you said, I should only insert brakes when needed.
But unfortunately, I am nearly always getting these uneven distributed notes.
Examples like the last stretched line of the horn1 should not depend on a special note spacing, extreme as this is. So I am forced to enter the brakes to fix it. On my system dorico is not able to reflow evenly between two brakes (I wish it were!)
I take it, all of you do not have this problem.
This is so frustrating!

I do not have much time at the moment. I will try to document my whole approach better next week, maybe someone sees what I am doing wrong.

Correct. I’m sure we could quickly solve it in a few minutes if you’d just post a file.
FWIW this is how Dorico laid out your Horn page with just a single change to reduce note spacing - everything else as factory default.

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Janus, thanks for your statement.

On my system Dorico does make a descent layout at first. The problems begin when I insert brakes, because the recalculation seems not to work correctly.

So it goes like this:
I have to insert a frame brake because of a page turning point.
Now I get a double page with f.e. 12 systems on the first page and 8 on the second.
So I have to insert an additional frame brake after 10 systems to get it layouted evenly: 10+10 systems on the double page.
But now the layout over the pages has an uneven placements of notes. So I have do add system brakes to fix this and so on and so on.

And: I have this problem on every piece. So either I have some kind of bug in my dorico installation or I am doing something wrong. I would really like to fix this.

As I told above, I will post again when I have more time.

Thanks for your help so far!

Then please post a Dorico file. Someone with more experience can almost certainly fix it and, one would hope, show you what has been done. Just adding breaks is not necessarily the answer, which is why you keep ending up with unsatisfactory results.

Use layout options to change the casting off to 10 systems per page. No fiddling involved, apart from deciding the specific measure where the page turn should occur.


Don’t work like this. Start at the beginning and work forward in the part. Don’t add any breaks later in the part until all the previous measures are laid out satisfactorily.

I usually don’t even care about page turns on my first pass through the part. I’ll go through, start to finish, and adjust the casting off musically, so rehearsal letters start a system, phrasing makes sense, etc. If I have parts with similar structure, I’ll then switch to Write, copy all the System Breaks, and Alt-click them into another part to save time. Then I go back and look for page turns. Obviously I may have to move a bar here or there to end a system with rests, but I generally don’t apply any Frame Breaks until almost all my System Breaks have been added. I have a bunch of V.S. page templates already set up, so it’s easy to just add that with a click for any page that isn’t full due to a page turn.


I do have some sympathy for the what the OP is saying and I also run into similar things. Sometimes because of page turns, or a tempo marking which spills into the page margin, you have to insert manual system or frame breaks. I also find that a system break half way down the page often ends up with the rest of the music not being spaced in the same way as the section before the system break. I think there is an expectation that the same spacing algorithm should apply to a section of music after a system break and up to the next system or frame break on the same page. This does not always seem to happen automatically and I find I often have one bar spread across the bottom of the page which I then have to manually push back onto the previous system, like in the example from the OP. Yes, Dorico sets the music out initially in a very wonderful way and note-spacing changes can do amazing things, but when you are dealing with page turns in dense orchestral music for example, there are often not that many choices and therefore you need to manually insert system and frame breaks. This can absolutely lead to the type of thing the OP experienced as indeed have I, and it would be an improvement if Dorico did something different in these circumstances.