Moving staves in Engrave mode


everybody seems to know, but several hours studying the forum and the little documentation and the guided tour didn’t tell me…

I am missing the most elemantary layout feature:

How do I move a bar from one system to another in Engrave mode?

I found how to get a system break, but that doesn’t help if I need to move the bar back to the above system.

Could anybody help me how this simple layout is done. (And again: Where do I find these elemantary informations???)

Any help would be much appreciated!


Sounds like you might have come from Finale, where just pushing the arrow key moves the bar up or down systems.

Dorico does it very different. On the left hand panel under Format Music Frames, there are 3 buttons. System break (which you have found), Lock system, and make into system.

If you want to move a bar to the previous system, you need to select the first note in the previous and then select the right bar line of the bar you want to move up, and then apply the “make into system” button. This will force the bar to the previous line.


I’d like to cast a vote here for making this workflow a little bit more user-friendly. While Dorico does a pretty good job at filling staves with measures initially, every now and then I have to readjust the amount of measures per stave, and there are some things that bug me:

  • Although I want to move a whole measure, I have to click very accurately on items to get the selection needed for the process. Since I work at a very low zoom level to have overview over the whole page, this is quite tedious because the things I need to click on are very tiny on the screen. The clickable area is only a few pixels.
  • While it’s great that Dorico can easily split measures anywhere within the measure at a system break, the percentage of me wanting this is zero. More often then not I end up with a split measure because what I think is the last (or first) item in a bar is not what Dorico thinks is the last (or first) item in the bar. It would be great if Dorico could protect myself from this. (Maybe a switch “only allow whole measures”?)
  • Because of the complexity of the current workflow, there is no possibility to assign keyboard shortcuts to this kind of action.

Given the “roughness” (in lack of vocabulary, sorry) of the job at hand, the fact that I have the do some thinking and very precise clicking is something that makes the job more complicated than I would like it to be.
I’m sure the team can come up with a solution that is way better than it is now.

Thanks for listening! :slight_smile:

There is also a YouTube channel with tutorials. The one that applies to you is at

I tend to agree here. Moving bars up and down with the arrow keys is one of the few things that are somewhat intuitive in Finale while this isn’t the case here in Dorico. I’ve kind of gotten used to the workflow but find that there is still a little too much clicking to do.

I agree and good ideas.

I feel you… But one way to make this easier is to lasso (click-drag) the first point and ctrl-lasso the second. Easier to get it right.

If you really want it, you can program it via some external macro editor.

+1 for moving bars up and down with the arrow keys.

I would also like Dorico to not give up so quickly when I try to squeeze an extra bar on the line. This is one area that F. does far better than Dorico. If I do exactly as Dorico tells me everything looks lovely, but most of my work requires a structural amount of bars per line. If I move an extra bar up in F. then it does a pretty good job of fitting it in, whereas Dorico seems to say ‘sod you’ and just collides stuff. (Nothing forced, other than the bar.)

I also desperately need a way to select a group of measure and fit them four (or whatever) to a system. Doing this to a whole flow is almost useless.

Wonderful people, thank you all for your help!
Now it works!

However, it seems to be very complicated (or am I doing something wrong?):
If I want to select some bars, I have to change to “write mode” first, do the selection, and then have to switch back to “engrave mode” to do the layout. I seem not to be able to select the bars in “engrave mode”.

Thank you for your help!

You might find it quicker, therefore, to do what “make into system” does manually.

Enter a system break where you want the system to start. Enter a second system break where you want the next system to start.
Select the first system break and tell it to Wait for next system break.

Yeah, you don’t select bars, you select items in a bar. This way you can insert a system break right after (or before) a selected item (i. e. you could split bars wherever you want). If you want to insert a system break after a barline you’d select the barline. And to make several bars into one system you’d select the first item in the first bar and the last item (e. g. the right barline) in the last bar and click the appropriate button.