Layout of systems on page

I’m looking for some advice on automating the general layout of material on the page (vertically for staves and horizontally for bars).
I have a piano score with a LOT of detail taking up vertical space - long stems, ottava lines, slurs, pedal lines etc. - and the engraving is really messy with a lot of overlapping lines etc. with some even spilling off the page at top or bottom. Also Dorico seems to be very economical with horizontal spacing, so many bars are looking very crammed together. Other than dragging systems in engrave mode and inserting page breaks, is there a way to apply a default so the whole thing just looks - subjectively at least! - less full.
In a few instances, Dorico engraves just two systems on page, which is good, except that both systems are pushed to the top and bottom of the page with a lot of white space between, instead of placing them evenly spaced out.
Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Peter.
Here’s what you must learn to use. Layout options > Vertical spacing > Ideal gaps : these are really the minimum gaps you allow Dorico to use, vertically.
Layout options > Vertical spacing > Justification : the settings here are the reason why your systems are too far apart, you probably should try and find out how it works (it might be not as intuitive as it seems, but it’s very reliable)
Layout options > Note spacing : here’s the setting to space globally (for that layout) the note spacing. Make sure it’s high enough if you have lots of small values (at least 3,5). Then, in Engrave mode>Engrave menu>Note Spacing change : this tool is bringing HUGE benefits as it allows to use different note spacings, depending on the content of a (say) bar. Make sure you understand the justification under Layout options> Note spacing too.
That is quite some work, but if you do it right, your documents quality will be highly improved.
Hope it helps!

For vertical justification, take a look at this page for a pair of images that demonstrate the difference between the two different justification settings (staves and systems justified, and just systems justified).

For a general introduction to page formatting and staff spacing, you might find this hangout session by John Barron helpful.

For horizontal spacing, look at note spacing as Marc suggests above (plus there are onward related links at the bottom of that topic I just linked).

Thanks a lot Lille and Marc. I applied some of those changes and it’s looking a lot better now.
The spacing between staves and between systems is good now, and there are 2 systems per page which helps the visual layout.
However, the systems start at the very top of the page, with some elements falling off the page. How to shift it all down to center them vertically on the page? Adjust the page margins?
Thanks again,

Some very useful advice. Though I happily treat each page (orchestral score) on its own merit, moving staves about, that’s something to learn more generally.
Thank you.

Yes, check Layout options> Page setup > Musical margins. You might need to increase to margins if you have a lot of material above top staff — Tempo markings, system text stuff is not taken into account for musical margins, only the staff position. The same goes if you have dynamics, slurs, octava bassa lines and pedals on the last staff of the page… You can move the Layout options window so that it’s not disturbing and test different values until you’re happy and close it. That’s what the Apply button is there for.

Material above the top of the staff will ‘bleed’ into the margin, as the top staff is kept to the same vertical position on every page. If you have a lot of that, then you might want to deepen the top margin, or in extremis manually adjust the occasional staff/system. Same for the bottom.

If you think Dorico’s horizontal spacing is too tight, then increase the Note Spacing value in Layout Options. You can also introduce Note Spacing changes at places where the music needs to be tighter/looser (followed by ‘resets’ to the original spacing). Engrave menu > Note Spacing Change.

Worth being aware that manual staff spacing changes are locked to the page, and if you e.g. insert an extra page at the start, those changes get lost.

A slightly more repeatable method if you want the top staff on some pages to appear lower is to move the top of the music frame downwards - either as a local page override, or by creating a master page with a lower music frame top that you can then apply to all pages that need a lower top - bonus being consistency and easy reproduction if required.

1 Like