Text above first system on a page

Hi together!

In the attached screenshot there is a simple text containing several lines placed above the first staff on a page. If there was another staff or system above, Dorico would automatically adjust the system spacing in oder to avoid collisions. But if the text is placed above the first system, the text goes widely over the frame-margins. I have to adjust system spacing manually (2nd screenshot).

Is there any option to force Dorico to do this automatically?

Thanks for your help,


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You can change Layout Options / Page Setup / Music Frame Margins to make the top staff lower on every page.

If you have a lot of text on just one page, you could drag the top of the music frame down in Engrave mode.

If you have several pages like this, but not every page in the score, you could make a new Master Page with more space between the heading and the music frame, and apply it to those pages.

If you drag the staves vertically within the music frame, it can be hard to get good vertical spacing for all the systems on the page. Personally I would only do that if there was no other way to solve the problem.

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Thank you, Rob, for your immediate answer! These are all good ideas. The question for me is, how I can tell Dorico to do these things automatically. I appreciate the idea of using Dorico as a “musical typewriter” and inputting whatever I want – some comments on the music I wrote for example. Of course it will be no problem to tweak the layout afterwards by changing the music frames or by re-spacing the systems or whatever. But when I enter some new stuff afterwards, I will have to re-re-space the layout once again. And so on. So the simple question is, if it should not be possible tell Dorico not to exceed the margins of the frame - as well as Dorico reliably avoids collisions between objects within the frame.


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If you make the top music frame margin about 5mm bigger, as in my first suggestion, then everything will fit on the page automatically, but it might waste space on pages where there is no text above the top staff.

Another option would be to use a smaller text size, but that depends on how the score is going to be used.

I agree with the OP. I have this problem with rehearsal marks, which often extend above the music frame margin. At the very least, there should be an option to force ALL staff elements to be constrained within the music frame margins.


Dorico won’t automatically adjust the position of the top staff away from the music frame top margin, even if things poke out the top of the frame. This is by design, to ensure a consistent position for the top line of the top staff of the top system and (subject to vertical justification) the bottom line of the bottom staff of the bottom system from page to page.

Daniel, thank you very much for your answer.

I totally agree with you as far as “normal” scores are concerned that are supposed to be published. I must say that in general Dorico’s layout-solutions seem to be at a very, very high level to me - much higher than those of other programs. This is exactly the reason why I dream of a Dorico that takes care of EVERYTHING for me (except composing). I can imagine at least two situations in which I prefer the music frame top margin behave like the bottom edge of an imaginary “staff No.0”:

  1. When a work is in progress, I prefer to input whatever I want – also some text which contains sometimes many lines. In this case I would prefer readability to a consistent layout. (N.B.: Ostia-staves push the first staff down; why shouldn’t texts or rehearsal marks do that in some cases?)

  2. Let‘s say I want to publish the piano reduction of a theatre-music containing stage-instructions. These instructions will be more or less short texts above the piano-staff (sometimes one or two words, sometimes four or more lines). In this case the constant position of the upper staff does not seem to be an appropriate solution. I know that in these cases I can tweak the layout manually. But nevertheless … (see above)

I don’t know anything about the technical problems – but wouldn‘t it be great to have the choice between a consistent position of the first staff and an impermeable top margin of the music frame?

Thank you and your team very much for your great work! Merry Christmas!


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I certainly understand your request, Ben. At the moment we have no plans for this, but I would certainly not want to rule it out.

Any change to this philosophy? It would be nice to keep a paragraph of shift-X text in the margins. Maybe there could be a setting to switch from matching the top and bottom staffs from page to page, to keeping everything within the margarines.

You’d butter not! :wink:

Seriously, though, I agree that Dorico’s forcing us to jump through hoops to accommodate essential notational elements like text or rehearsal numbers which happen to be on the first system of a page shouldn’t be part of Dorico’s design philosophy.


Perhaps (down the road a ways) there could be some optional text panel that acts like the Flow Heading panel and can be called up when needed to carve out some space within the music frame for intro text/dialogue.

I don’t think Dorico is forcing you to jump through hoops. If you routinely need additional space above the top staff of the system, consider changing the music frame margins so that the first system has more headroom.

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In my case, every page is different. I was using Shift-X text to enter multiple lines of explanation for analysis. So I have to tweak the top of every page, because each has differing lines. Dorico works great with vertical spacing on the rest of the page, even if I put in a long paragraph of Shift-X text.

It’s kinda cool to be able to write analysis documents entirely in Dorico other than this one issue. Using the Campania* font in lyrics is fantastic for harmonic analysis. I wish there was another font for degree of scale (E.g., 1 with ^ above it for 1st degree), then my life would be nearly complete! I asked this in Musescore (where Campania is a built-in font), but doesn’t sound like anyone has developed something.

Speaking of which, it would be kinda handy to specify a different font for each lyrics line because Campania really messes up regular words. Maybe I could kludge this by using chorus or translation lyrics though.

I could add text frames, but the Shift-X text is super handy for this task, and sticks with its place in the music.


It’s not great. I wish some font genius around here would design a better one.

Thanks, Dan! That fits the bill for my needs. What isn’t so great about it?

Just my opinion; I find the caret above the number to be too small. If the point size is too small, it’s can be difficult to see. I’d like the caret to be a little more brazen.

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I realize this is an old conversation, but I’m fairly new to Dorico and it didn’t take me long to run into this same issue. Your suggestion to @rubberfingers makes sense if you always need extra space before the first system, but what if it’s only an occasional need? In my case, I also had a flow title, which appears within the music frame margins (unless there’s a way to give it a negative vertical offset?) and I could not figure out how to make more space between the flow title and the first system without increasing the space above every system. There must be a way to do this, right? (Common use case: musical theater scores, where you often see the last spoken line before a musical number printed above the first system of music as a cue.)

To increase the gap below a flow heading on an individual page, add a flow heading change to that page - in the dialog, you have the option to change the margins for that page only.

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I made a special flow heading to include a cue token stolen from the ProjectInfo’ Other Information Field. Unfortunately the custom Flow Heading MP does not dynamically size itself to the vertical height of the cue, but until Dorico comes up with a better solution…

The nice thing about it is that once you are past the first Flow Header, you can set the cue Flow Header as standard whenever one starts a new flow, which makes its appearance automatic.

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And of course, someone did! MusAnalysis - Notation Central

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