Dotted Note, Voices, and Voice Column Index

I’m engraving a work and have run into a visual “issue” that I’m not quite sure how to solve. Here is the default output from Dorico:
Screen Shot 2021-11-09 at 9.26.47 AM

My issue is that I am accustomed to seeing the downstem half note to the left of the dotted upstem half note. That can easily enough be addressed by setting the voice column index so that this appears:
Screen Shot 2021-11-09 at 9.26.23 AM

But, I’m also accustomed to the vertical alignment between staves being driven by the upstem note, such as this (Score, not Dorico):

With a seeming resolution being to set the voice column index of the downstem note to -1, which is not possible.

So, am I simply wrong regarding my inclination to have the vertical alignment driven by the upstem note? Any insights on how to best approach this would be welcome. I’ve checked the books I most commonly reference (Gould, Ross, and the Schirmer manual), but most of what I see relating to this rhythm combo exists on a single stave, and is not shown in reference to the vertical alignment between staves. Gould says that the vertical alignment should be based on the note “on the correct side of the stem,” but this is an issue I’ve seen presented both ways in published scores throughout my career.

In this case, I will be the only consumer of this orchestral reduction I’ve put together, but I’d like to know what others think for the the future… maybe I’m just wrong!


Have you checked the various options in Notation Options (Ctrl-Shift-N) ->Voices, to see if one suits your needs?

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I should have clarified—I am familiar with those, but they are very limited in their scope, and do not apply to this configuration.

The appearance you want (as in the Score example) can be achieved by moving the two-note chord in the upper voice of the lower staff using the Note Spacing Tool in Engrave mode. It takes a few seconds, which I assume will not be a huge time penalty unless you have many such occurrences.

As with you, I have also seen this sort of notational situation presented in various alignments. Sometimes the solution chosen seems to have been dictated by the amount of available space (or lack thereof) surrounding the notes in question, while at other times it seems to have been decided by a publisher’s house style or even a personal preference/practice of the engraver/copyist. I am usually fairly accommodating of such “not-quite-right” ways of notating things as long as the intention is quite clear and there is an apparent reason for the choice made, such as lack of space, as I mentioned a little earlier, or simply for visual clarity.

I guess I started questioning my traditional approach when I realized there was no way to achieve what I was used to without the note spacing method you describe.

You can also do it with a Voice Column X offset:


Amazing! I’ve never noticed that setting before—I guess I’ve not scrolled that far over.

I’d still be interested in thoughts on if I should do this, but I’m very happy to know that it can be done.

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That makes two of us!

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