Variable amount of text at start of flows

Hi all, I’m working on a musical. There are around 25 songs (and therefore 25 flows), many of which need some dialogue text before the song starts. See the Sibelius screenshots. I figured the easiest way to do this was to make a text frame in the flow heading, that way each flow would start with an empty text frame that I could fill in.
https://imgur.com/a/yZzS2R7

It didn’t go according to plan. The music frame under the heading always leaves room for that text frame, no matter the size. The space remains even if the frame is deleted.
https://imgur.com/a/TOEqwfB

So…what’s the best way to go about this? And if the answer is “RTFM” kindly tell me where to look!

My workaround is to have multiple Flow Headings that are different sizes. My dialogue (mostly not more than three or four lines of cue) gets copied and pasted straight into a field in Project Info, then I just see how much space each flow needs and swap in the correct Flow Heading.

It’s fast enough for PV scores but I guess if you need the dialogue in the parts it’ll be somewhat laborious. Not to mention that if you need to add or remove a flow somewhere in the middle, you’ll need to redo much of the layout work.

if you need the dialogue in the parts it’ll be somewhat laborious. Not to mention that if you need to add or remove a flow somewhere in the middle, you’ll need to redo much of the layout work.

…yeah, kill me now. :smiley:

I came to the idea of dialogue in headings after I spent a lot of time manually adding text frames early on in the project. Later, after adding lots of frame breaks to facilitate page turns, all the dialogue was colliding with/underneath music. And not even in the right songs.

Also, and you can call me crazy, isn’t it strange that flow heading changes are associated with pages and not flows? As in, I make a different heading on Flow 3 which starts on page 10. But when I change my layout a bit and bump Flow 3 to page 11 it reverts to its default heading. Now page 10 has an “orphaned” flow heading change, doing nothing. I think I’m missing the logic here.

I entirely agree. I don’t think you’re missing logic, here, rather it’s a limitation in the way that the software currently works (along with a similar limitation regarding manual staff spacing, which will be lost if your current “page 4” becomes “page 3” or “page 5”).

I know that in musical theatre it’s not uncommon for you to have multiple flows on the same page with different requirements for stage directions and/or dialogue for each one, but in general the fact that you can only change flow headings on a per-page basis is not really a limitation. That’s not to say that the musical theatre use case is not an important one for us to support, however. The reason flow headings are attached to pages is that it’s the most natural way for them to work when it comes to the existing data that we hold for master pages, overrides, and so on. It’s certainly not beyond the realms of possibility that we will revisit this again in future.

I could also imagine running into problems when creating study material or worksheets or whole books / lesson plans?

I really think that Leo’s solution is the best. But it does work better when one has a bit of flexibility in terms of the amount of text that can be placed in the Flow Header. I have never scored a whole musical, so I realize that it is no always subject to one’s personal choice in terms of engraving. But leaving enough space for about four lines of text works beautifully if we are in a situation where every flows has a bit of info in that header. Then the empty space is not so noticeable. Using the “Other Information” box for this is best since it accepts carriage returns. IN the end, as usual, the less we override the better. In a utopian world, having flow headers that automatically resize to fit text would likely be an ideal solution for this, but I have a feeling that this would be enormously difficult to implement.


Thanks Daniel. It seems (for better or worse) that Dorico favours a “front-to-back” type of workflow that I’m not used to yet. My instinct is to edit flows from simplest to most complex, which has proven to not work at all for the reasons mentioned above.

Maybe if there was some sort of “lock changes” function that preserved all layout changes made to particular flows/pages. Of course, I’m in over my head here…I’m sure it’s incredibly difficult to implement stuff like this!

But leaving enough space for about four lines of text works beautifully if we are in a situation where every flows has a bit of info in that header.

I agree that your examples look great. In my case there are some songs with around 12-15 lines of dialogue and others with just one or two. I’m going to make a bunch of headers i.e. “MT 2 lines”, “MT 4 lines”, “MT 10 lines” etc etc.