Dorico's equivalent to Finale's "Expressive Text"

Apologies for the noob question - I’m still dealing with “Finale hangover” and I just don’t know what terms to search to find the answer to this question.

The category “Expressive Text” from Finale’s Expression Tool contains a lot of items that are unrelated to dynamics, like “agitato,” “con brio,” “espressivo.”

I understand that I can create these in the Ctrl+D popover and then hiding the intensity marking, but that feels fudgey to me. I also see that I can create a new paragraph style, select my style in the Ctrl+X popover, type the text, then flip it below the staff in the bottom bar… but that seems like a lot of steps for something I need to do so frequently.

FWIW I don’t care about playback. Are either of these the “intended” way to do it, or is there another way that I’m missing?

Hi Taran !
There’s no such thing as Expressive text in Dorico. But there are paragraph styles, so you can create yourself a paragraph style that matches the looks you’re looking after, save it as default ( so that it can be used in any new project — and at that point, you can even create a keyboard shortcut to invoke it). I admit I still use the “hide dynamic” thing, until the Team provides us with an even better solution.
Hope it helps !

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You could also build a heap of custom playing techniques, which could be set to appear below rather than above by default.

…or if you’re going down the Paragraph Style route you could Save it As Default and then assign a keyboard shortcut specifically to that Paragraph Style. You’ll still need to flip below, though.


Welcome to the forum Taran! I guess the answer slightly depends on the purpose of the text - “dim.” you can achieve natively by inputting a gradual dynamic and changing its style to appear as “dim.” or even “dim…”.

Anything related to dynamics or volume, are “dynamics”. Anything related to playback speed is generally “tempo”. “Legato” might be a playing technique, as this could trigger a different playback sound (i.e. a smoother sample).

I would say personally that things like “espressivo” are probably best input as dynamic modifiers, with the immediate dynamic hidden if required.


I do wish there was a stock paragraph style “dynamic” text, that would match, well, dynamics, because these kind of markings really are quite common.

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You can make your own paragraph style with the required font formatting and save it as default (click the star icon) to make it available in all projects.

Is there a way to make a paragraph style default below the staff, or do I have to change the Position setting in the bottom bar each time?

You have to flip it each time. Use F - it’s much quicker than reaching for the properties panel.

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This is my way to go. It would be great, if
a) there would be a shortcut to hide the immediate dynamic or
b) something I could type into the popover which means: “new dynamic or same dynamic as before and hide it”.

Don’t forget that once you’ve created a Paragraph Style and saved it as a default, you can create a keyboard shortcut for it. Shift X (and Alt-Shift X) are just shortcuts for the default Para Style, and nothing more special than that.

If you do find that you need the same text repeatedly, you can copy and paste, or Alt-click the selected text.

Also, it’s well worth setting shortcuts for “Duplicate to Staff Above/Below” – that’s like Finale’s Alt-up/down arrow on an Expression. Except it works with EVERYTHING…!!!

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What would be the best way to proceed to enter an expression like “doux et expressif”, which should only appear above the first stave at the beginning of a score but have effect on all instruments?

System text, Alt-Shift-X.

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Note that system text won’t affect playback, it’s only visual - if you wanted to engage a particular sample, you’d need to give instruments a playing technique or similar.

Is there an agreed term for this type of mood-setting text? Things, that is, that wouldn’t be picked up by the playback algorithms?

@dankreider : Thanks for your reply. I did enter an expression text (“doux et expressif” in my case) in that way at the start of the score, above the upper instrument part. But then the text only appears in the Flute part which is the upper part in my case. Is there a way to have the text appear in all parts, without having to put the text in all staves of the score?

If you want the text to appear on all staves in the score, use Staff Text and then use Duplicate to Staff Below (I’ve assigned it to Cmd-Alt-down arrow).

If you want the text to appear only on the top staff in the score, but to appear on all parts, that’s when you’d use System Text.

@dankreider : I see now where I went wrong, thanks!

If you find yourself using a marking often, create it as a playing technique. You can set it to dynamics text font.