Showing staves only where needed

    By default, a score will show all measures of all staves on all pages throughout the score, whether they contain notes or not. However, you may wish to have certain staves appear only on systems where they are needed. You may even wish to have a staff appear or disappear mid-system. MuseScore provides a number of controls for this purpose.

    Hiding empty staves

    Ensemble scores often typically omit the staves for instruments that are not playing on any given system.

    Hiding empty staves

    Hiding all empty staves

    To automatically hide staves on systems where they are empty:

    1. Ensure that nothing in your score is selected (press Esc if necessary).
    2. Go to the Properties panel.
    3. Click the icon next to Empty staves.

    Empty staves setting in Properties panel

    Alternatively, you can enable the Hide empty staves within systems option in Format→Style→Score.

    Hide empty staves style settings

    MuseScore will normally continue to show all staves on the first system, in accordance with common convention. If you would like to force MuseScore to hide empty staves on the first system as well, disable the Don't hide empty staves in first system option in the dialog. You can also control whether or not brackets are shown if, for example, only a single instrument from a section is playing, via the Show brackets when spanning a single staff option.

    Excluding specific staves from being hidden

    You can specify that certain staves should not be hidden when empty:

    1. Right-click a staff.
    2. Click Staff/Part properties.
    3. In the resulting dialog, set Hide when empty to Never.

    For instruments that use two or more staves (like piano, organ, and harp), you may wish to specify that individual empty staves should be shown unless all staves for the instrument are empty. To do this, set the Hide when empty option to Instrument for each of the staves.

    Temporary staves

    In scores where some empty staves are not hidden in general, there may nonetheless be special staves that you wish to only show where needed. For example, this might be a solo part in an ensemble score, or a bass staff in a lead sheet. To set an individual staff to hide when empty without forcing all staves to be hidden when empty:

    1. Right-click a staff.
    2. Click Staff/Part properties.
    3. In the resulting dialog, set Hide when empty to Always.

    Cutaway staves

    Film scores and other contemporary scores often use a style of notation where individual measures are hidden when empty. These are sometimes called cutaway scores.

    Cutaway staff

    To accomplish this in MuseScore:

    1. Right-click a staff.
    2. Select Staff/Part properties.
    3. In the resulting dialog, set Hide when empty to Always.
    4. Enable the Cutaway option.

    If you wish all staves to be displayed in this manner, you can use the Properties panel or the Hide empty staves style setting to hide the staves. However, you will need to set the Cutaway option for each staff individually. You can speed up this process by using the arrow buttons in the Staff/Part Properties dialog:

    1. Set the Cutaway option for the top staff.
    2. Press the Apply button.
    3. Press the button to move to the next staff.
    4. Repeat steps 1-3 until you have gone through all staves.


    An ossia is a special type of cutaway staff in which a given musical passage is notated using a small staff above the normal staff, such as to show an alternate interpretation.


    These can be created in MuseScore using a combination of features:

    1. Add a staff as described in Adding and configuring staves.
    2. Select and delete or otherwise adjust any automatically added bracket.
    3. Enter the desired notation.
    4. Right-click the staff.
    5. Select Staff/Part properties.
    6. In the resulting dialog, set Hide when empty to Always.
    7. Enable the Cutaway and Small options.
    8. Press OK.

    If you wish to hear the ossia playback instead of the normal staff, select the corresponding measures on the normal staff and uncheck the Play setting on the Properties panel. Do the same for the ossia staff if you would rather hear the normal staff playback.

    Depending on the look you desire, you might also want to hide the initial or final barline for the passage. To do this, select the barline and press V or uncheck the Visible option in the Properties panel.

    You may also wish to decrease the distance between the ossia and the normal staff. To do this, use a Staff spacer fixed down from the Layout palette.

    Other invisible measures

    MuseScore also allows you to make individual measures invisible on any given staff, whether empty or not.

    To set a measure to be invisible on a given staff:

    1. Right-click the measure.
    2. Select Measure properties.
    3. Disable the Visible checkbox for the staff or staves in which you wish the measure to be set invisible.

    Note: you cannot make a measure invisible on all staves—it must remain visible on at least one.