Engraver questions (text placement , PDF export)

Hi there,

I’m currently a Sibelius 8.3 user working for Hal Leonard MGB (Europe). A few questions about Dorico, no problem if they can’t be answered as of today.

1. System Text placement

Sibelius has limited text placement options. In Finale you can choose to align i.e. a tempo marking with the start of a staff, the time signature, … Will this be possible in Dorico?

2. Expression text (dynamics) placement

I now use the Position Dynamics plugin in Sibelius to offset my dynamics to the left. Is it possible in Dorico to have a different dynamic placement than left - center - right of the notehead?

3. PDF export

Sibelius can’t handle the PDF X/1a format. Finale can. I saw in the Sibelius blog post that you’ve changed from CMYK to monochrome. Will this solve any of the problems with high end printers? Or do we still have to run the PDF’s through a distiller?

4. XML import

When importing XML files from Finale to Sibelius, some of the symbols are gone (i.e. glissandi lines) and there are always problems with tempo markings. Does Dorico handle XML import in a different way? I’ve read that there was a brief explanation on the MOLA conference, but I can’t find any detailed info.

Many thanks for the answers and keep up the (very good!) work. I can’t wait to use the program.


Dorico automatically aligns tempo instructions correctly according to the established conventions for such things, e.g. the left-hand edge of the instruction is aligned with the left-hand edge of the time signature if present, otherwise with the left-hand edge of the rhythmic item at the position where the tempo instruction takes effect.

Dorico also automatically aligns dynamics with noteheads, according to the visual centre of the dynamic (which is defined as part of the metadata in SMuFL and will ultimately be editable directly in Dorico, though perhaps not in the first version). There’s some discussion of Dorico’s approach to dynamic placement in part 12 of my development diary:


In the case of both tempo instructions and dynamics, a variety of options is provided for horizontal and vertical positioning, and further per-item control is provided by the Properties panel, with ultimate control being possible by way of simply dragging or nudging the item into the position where you want it to go.

Dorico does not export PDFs in any of the various flavours of PDF/X. It exports PDFs to the version 1.4 specification standard, either in RGB colour or in pure monochrome, as you choose. You should find that you do not need to run the resulting PDFs through any further processing, provided you just want pure monochrome output.

Dorico is not a miracle worker when it comes to MusicXML. Clean, well-formed MusicXML will import well, though we explicitly do not make any attempt to preserve fine graphical positioning data from MusicXML. Aspects like overridden spacing, slur control points, stem lengths, etc. are all ignored even if specified in the MusicXML file. Coarser graphical information like slur placement (i.e. curving up or down), tie direction, stem direction, dynamics placement, articulation placement etc. is imported but can be removed to let Dorico do its own thing.

The philosophy behind this is that none of the existing applications are able to export this information in a consistent fashion, so it’s not worth trying to make sense of it; instead, we have devoted enormous development effort into making Dorico’s default layout – both at the macro and the micro level – as good as possible, so that the result you get from importing a MusicXML file is more or less the same as if you had typed that music in yourself from scratch in Dorico, and benefit from Dorico’s superior automatic default engraving capabilities.

How true…!!

“… the result you get from importing a MusicXML file is more or less the same as if you had typed that music in yourself from scratch in Dorico, and benefit from Dorico’s superior automatic default engraving capabilities.”

I’m sure people here realise that this is massively important.

Those of us who might be cross-grading from another well-known program will be heartened to have this confirmed - I think we have actually been told this elsewhere.

I’m thinking of some time in the future when I’m no longer using that well-known program, having learned how to make the most out of Dorico. Someone wants to perform the stuff I’m now writing - a big score, 36 staves, a total of 40 mins music - and I want to revise it beforehand. I shall need to import a lot of MusicXML.

Many thanks for your answers Daniel!

Concerning the PDF export. I guess we’ll first give it a try with the monochrone PDF’s without exporting them to X/1a and see what the high end printers do with them.

I totally agree that with the efforts of the Dorico team, importing an XML file into Dorico will give a very good result, according to your previous blogposts as layout is concerning.

I’m very positive that Dorico will be a blessing for professional engravers, because we will be able to do the same amount of work, but much faster once we master all the functionalities of Dorico.

Kind regards,


Is it possible to separate placement of letter dynamics and hairpins? I’m trying to replicate a vocal score in which the letter dynamics (f, mp, etc.) are above the staff as normal, but the hairpins are below. When I try to change one, all nearby markings move with it.


You can move them independently as long as they are part of separate groups. Dorico automatically groups them together if they abut.

OK, is there a way I can un-group them, or prevent Dorico from automatically grouping them?

Unfortunately not easily at the moment, no. We will have commands to do this as soon as possible.

This may have been answered elsewhere, so I didn’t want to create a new thread, but does anyone know if it is possible to not make bar lines cut through text. For example, long dynamic markings, see example for what I am talking about :smiley:

If I recall correctly, the team is working on that, but it has not yet been implemented.

Thought that would be the case, thank you. Just wondered in case I had missed a trick!