Reducing default size of notes possible?

Hi, I personally find the default note size and text too large for working with scores. I can reduce the sizes of noteheads and text using the Custom Scale feature. However, I then add a new note, and that is full-sized. Is there anyway of having a scale size for an item as the default? Thanks.

Dorico uses Large note heads as default. Try changing here under Engraving Options:


If that’s not enough Library->Note head sets, change the size of the Default Note heads.

Hi @jesele, thanks - I was using the default noteheads anyway, and didn’t know about resizing using the engraving editor. That works, but I feel I’m going down a rabbit hole resizing all notehead types. Also I tried resizing them to 80%, but then when I looked again, the page seemed to be calling the new size 100%. I then increased the size by 125% to try to return to normal, and that didn’t work. So helpful and interesting, but not a solution I feel comfortable with.

Have you experimented by changing the space size in Layout Options>Page Setup>Space Size?

Hi @janus, I know about the rastral spacing of the staff - that’s not what I want, but thank you.

If you really want to change the size of noteheads (though I would discourage you from making regular noteheads any smaller relative to the staff than the default size of the Default size noteheads), you could do it by editing the noteheads in Library > Notehead Sets.

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Hi Daniel, just on this topic: I’ve always wondered why Dorico has a notehead size called “default” but then makes the default notehead the “larger” one?

Because when we tested out the early versions of Bravura on humans, back when I had to hack its glyphs into Sibelius because we hadn’t yet progressed sufficiently far with Dorico itself to use it to print out music, we tried out a number of different variations for notehead size, and the consensus was that an enlargement of around 7–8% was considered most legible at standard reading distances. That’s therefore why we use the enlarged noteheads by default. However, technically the SMuFL standard stipulates that noteheads should be exactly one space tall, so our preferred noteheads are actually out of spec. So we call the ones that are sized according to the SMuFL specification “default”, and the ones that are sized according to our real-world tests for legibility “larger”, and we choose the more legible ones by default.


Thank you Daniel - I guess that answers my question (that it’s not possible to make scaling of features, which can be done through the property panel, a default).

FYI this is not about legibility for musicians - my use here is as a music theory / composition student, and I want white space to analyse and annotate, and for that I like big staff spacing and smaller noteheads.

(And thank you for Dorico - it makes my life better!)

Would it be feasible to enter all the music you need, filter the notes, and then change to cue size? And I mean right before you want to export so that you’re not constantly having to adjust. You could always create a shortcut for cue size too (which I have done).

Hi @DanielMuzMurray, I’ve not used cue notes. I guess that would work in terms of making the notes smaller. but would actually be no easier than what I do already - scale the notes etc in the properties, although having a keyboard shortcut would be nice. I really just wanted to know if my simple soultion could be more convenient, and the answer seems to be no!

It’s not too hard to program a keyboard shortcut, you just have to do it manually. You can basically program a shortcut to most Properties functions in a similar way too.

  1. Select a note.
  2. Script/Start Recording Macro
  3. Specify the percentage you want in Properties
  4. Script/End Recording Macro
  5. Navigate to your Script Plug-ins folder and open the usermacro.lua file in a code reader. On Windows this is at Users\yournamehere\AppData\Roaming\Steinberg\Dorico 4\Script Plug-ins
    You’ll see some code like this that contains the resize command. Copy the part in yellow below.
  6. Backup your user keycommands file and then open it. In Windows this is just one level up in the AppData\Roaming\Steinberg\Dorico 4 folder.
  7. Create a shortcut using the code you copied from your usermacro.lua file. Follow the syntax of the other shortcuts in the file. Here’s a sample one I created to manually trigger Avoid Collisions as I don’t have that on by default.
  8. Save your keycommands file, restart Dorico, and it should work!
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@FredGUnn, just a note that I really like this idea, tried once and I clearly did something wrong as I disabled all my key commands - and I’ve been too busy to troubleshoot, but will get back to it!

If you get the syntax wrong, then your keycommands file won’t load or perhaps Dorico won’t even start, I can’t remember which. Just be sure to study the syntax of all the entries in there already, and it should be possible. Make sure you are making the edit to your user keycommands file and not the factory one that lives in the same folder as the Dorico program itself.

One good thing is that the keycommands file is human-readable enough that at last resort you can use it as a reminder to recreate all your custom shortcuts. Just move the bad file from its location, and a new one is created when you use the dialog again.