Feature requests: Better formatting options with staff labels


I make use of the vertical stacking of inner staff labels and center the instrument names vertically. I find myself using the “distance between outer or group label and systemic barline” engraving setting to prevent instrument names like “Trombone” from moving too close to the player numerals in certain cases where it is between staves. For instance, here:

The “Tbn.” would be awfully close to the numeral “2” without using this setting to push it to the left, and in some cases might be colliding with it.

This setting works great with the brass, as you can see there. However I discovered it has an unwanted side effect with string divisi when choosing not to label the individual divisi staves with names:

In this case, the cellos divide at one part and I chose, as I believe is entirely customary, not to label the two individual cello staves. The issue here is that the Vc. div. staff label is shifted over to the left as though inner staff labels were present - in this case, they are not present, so it is shifting over to make room for something that isn’t there, which looks a little bit weird. In cases where there is a solo and gli altri staff then it can make sense to have those names for the individual divisions, but for simple divisi, it is customary to simply have the centered Vc. div. staff label.

At the moment I’ve had to slightly restrict what I wanted to set the “Distance between outer or group staff label and systemic barline” as a value lower than I wanted just so that the cellos don’t look stupid in those divided systems by the label being too far away for no good reason. Could this option be modified so that in cases where the inner labels are not present, it distances the label as if it were an inner staff label? Or is there any way of doing this right now?

As a secondary request, it would also be nice to be able to have some control over the vertical spacing/distance between inner staff labels. In some cases with condensing and larger numbers of instruments you can have things like this happening:


I already brought that up in a previous thread, but it was confirmed there was no good way of handling that, so I would like to request a feature there.



To take the last case first, it really seems like you have a mismatch between the size of the staff and the size of the staff labels. What kind of approach could Dorico take if the relationship between the size of the staff and the size of the labels is fixed that would give a better result? (I imagine I must be missing something obvious.)

In the case of the position of outer staff labels when the inner labels are empty or not shown, perhaps there is something we can do to position the outer labels as if the inner labels were not there at all; I’ll make a note of this.

Hi Daniel,

Regarding the last case, what I would most like to see is some kind of control over the vertical spacing between the various inner labels, the 1 2 and 3. The spacing there is all right when things are not cramped, but if this could be reduced then there would be sufficient space between the inner label for flute 3 and oboe 1 in the image. I wouldn’t see this as an automatic thing, but instead a manual setting “minimum vertical gap between inner labels” which would default to whatever Dorico is currently doing for the vertical space between “1” and “2” and between “2” and “3”. Please note that with something like the above, I would also probably adjust the font size of the inner numerals to be a bit smaller (which I already can do right now).

If Dorico were to do things automatically to fix it, one thing I would expect would be a collision boundary for labels to push the staves further apart if the labels are so tall that the labels for one staff would collide with another, but this isn’t something that I would necessarily ask for as in many cases this would create more space than I would actually want and so I would force a manual condensing or do other things to have fewer instruments per staff so that not as many labels would have to stack.

The approach I would take for the horns above, for instance, is to manually configure the condensing settings so that I wouldn’t get all 6 horns on one staff to prevent this from happening. Even horizontally, 6 horns on one staff would start to be a longer label “Horn in F”, or 8 would be even worse. For the woodwinds, between shrinking the inner label font a bit and a hypothetical “minimum vertical gap between inner labels” it would be fine with the three per staff.

Although this doesn’t help to answer the question for what Dorico might do automatically, what I personally liked to do when I would be doing the condensing manually (ex. in Sibelius) was to use the vertical labels up to a certain limit, like two or three, and if I need even more instruments sharing a staff, to use a hyphenated range. So, for things like the three flutes in the image, if I did have them on one staff like that, I would shrink down the font size a bit on the 1 2 and 3 but also bring the 1 2 and 3 slightly closer together vertically in terms of line spacing. Then for the horns, where it is 6 on one staff there, I would have Horn in F 1-6, because 6 digits stacked vertically would be more than my desired vertical maximum of 3 digits stacked vertically.

So, maybe, at some time in the future it would be nice to see support for hyphenated ranges as well as a max number of players before it resorts to hyphenating. This of course would not always make sense, only if the numbers were continguous and consecutive. So for instance, if the vertical numbering was used like “1” above “2” above “3”, if there were more than 2 or 3 or some configurable number, then it would use hyphenated ranges to simplify it, like 1-6 instead of 6 labels on top of each other. The same thing could work for horizontal labels - instead of having to have “Horn in F” since 6 is more than 2 or 3 or some configurable number, to have it hyphenated instead as the more compact “Horn in F 1-6”. I’m not as concerned about this as other things because this only becomes a concern when you have a large complement of a certain instrument, which mostly happens in Hollywood film scores. With the sort of standard orchestra sizes like 2/2/2/2 4/3/3/1 this would never be a problem. So again, solutions for large numbers of horns and things like that are not super high on my list of what I would like to see, but I mention it here anyway because it is related to this topic.


Here’s an example from Omni music publishing’s score for Star Trek The Motion Picture:


The size of the staff compared to the label is more reasonable here (in my example in the original post it was a bit exaggerated). But you can see that the vertical spacing between the 1 and 2 and between 3 and 4 is tighter than what Dorico does by default and it still looks pretty good to me. It looks better to me, actually, than the larger amount of non-configurable vertical space that Dorico uses between the player numerals.

You could go to Library>Paragraph Styles>Staff Labels (Inner) and set the Leading to something like 75%.

Yes, this was the solution provided before, if I am OK with no longer having the labels centered vertically with the staff. Unfortunately, I do want the vertical mid-point of the numerals to be the vertical midpoint of the staff, and changing the leading percentage screws up the vertical alignment with no way to fix it.

Right now I can either get numerals that are nicely vertically aligned with the staff but have too much vertical space between them, or numerals that have a good amount of vertical space between them but are now askew in terms of the vertical alignment with the staff, but not both.