Change default style to have page numbers in header instead of footer

• Oct 9, 2016 - 16:58
Reported version
S5 - Suggestion

Currently in MuseScore, the default header/footer style settings puts the "$P" macro in the footers, producing page numbers at the bottom corners of the pages.

But the page numbers are at the top, not the bottom, in between 90 and 100% of the sheet music I've ever seen (whether done entirely by hand, by moveable-type press, or by modern engraving software—indeed it is the default in at least Sibelius and Finale).

For example, in my current orchestra folder (for a concert to be played tomorrow), the page numbers are in the header in: four parts that I believe were typeset in the early 20th century; one that looks like it was done with Finale; one that I think I can identify as being engraved with Encore; and two that are clearly hand-written from a long time ago. There is also one old-fashioned typeset piece that is only two pages and has no page numbers at all. But zero have the numbers at the bottom of the page.


Interesting. I never paid any attention to this and found the placement at the bottom oak (if not even better than at the top). But checking my sheet music (only a few items--I am abroad--but quite diverse by age and publisher) I find you are right: 100% page numbers on top.

Why do I prefer the placement at the bottom? No idea.

I don't know. I have been using sheet music for the last 50 some years. I have been using Musescore for about three years now--multi page scores from the beginning. It should have looked wrong to me from the start and it didn't.

BTW I checked books (fiction / non fiction) and they too generally have page numbers on top of the page.

Here is a theory: Word processors (like MS Word or what they have on Google Drive) generally place page numbers in the bottom by default. Typing plenty of reports during my career got me used to the look. Hence my preference This is also likely the source of the present arrangement in Musescore.

BTW 2: Isn't there a case to be made for the bottom positioning on merit (rather than tradition)? Seems to me page numbers are quite unimportant enough in a score (where there are also measure numbers and maybe rehearsal marks for orientation). Placing them in a less conspicuous location than the very first thing you see on a page is IMHO a good idea.

BTW 3: If tinkering with this is necessary anyway why not make the page number default 10 point (like in 1.3)? 8 point looks ridiculous all by itself in the corner of the page.

FWIW, I subjectively prefer them on the bottom as well, not that this makes me opposed to the change. One practical advantage to having them on the bottom, though: most people are already allocating space within the bottom margin for a footer, just for the copyright message. Might as well use the space on subsequent pages for numbers, that's been my thinking I guess. I'd rather not need to allocate space for a header as well. We *might* consider having separate first page settings, like many word processors do.

As far as I know, MuseScore does not currently allocate space based on the presence or absence of headers and footers.

If page numbers on top is standard, then that's where music librarians (who have a hard job!) will look for them—the Major Orchestra Librarians' Association specifies "Right-hand pages must be odd-numbered and left-hand pages must be even-numbered in the top right or left corner of the page," as I believe Gould does also. There are no serious arguments against it, right?

I can see practical reasons for the number positioning for the performer as well as the librarian—you spill your music, quickly stack the pages, set them on your music stand to sort them, and reach to pull down the top corner...

My point was that since people are already allocating space within the bottom margins for the footer that would only be used on page one and would be empty for other pages if we make this change, it means there will be wasted space on the bottom of all subsequent pages unless we implement a way to have a larger bottom margin for the first page.

That is, right now, we have a 20mm bottom margin by default. This is mostly to accommodate the footer. If the footer is going to be empty except for page 1, that's a little wasteful.

Conversely, we might feel 10mm isn't enough of a top margin if we start including page numbers, so we might be inclined to increase it, meaning there will be less room on each page unless we can reclaim the space on the bottom.

Hello Isaac!
I had never paid attention to this as I watched the position of the page numbers in the French publications. You are right until the 80s but afterwards in the majority of works consulted page numbers are well placed in the bottom of the page.
Intrigued, I then went to consult the service of legal deposits ( required to be distributed ). Here we find at least one copy of any publication and I consulted foreign productions on French territory ( just the music of course ). It seems that the trend is the same: from the 80s, the page numbers "slide" down. So this trend is not typically French.

Sorry, but you should never, never, never play from loose sheets--practice from loose shoots?--up to you, but playing in an ensemble from loose sheets?--never (unless your part fits on a single sheet of course--which by default has no page number in MS--yet you won't have trouble uprighting it).

BTW your page numbers will be the last worry you have after picking up your sheets by crawling around the stands and the feet of your fellow players....

My opinion that this is one of those things that doesn't really matter either way, and could be debated for ages. I would argue to stick to previous behavior, just out of principle of not changing default behavior.

If I had to pick, I'd pick bottom, because #3 pt 2 that page numbers are quite unimportant enough in a score, and also marc's comment #4 about sharing the same vertical space as footers.

"BTW your page numbers will be the last worry you have after picking up your sheets by crawling around the stands and the feet of your fellow players...."

:D ...yup!

The decision as to where the page number should be placed is an artistic one that is dependent upon a number of functional considerations. A good graphic designer will place the page number (a) where it will be easily seen, (b) where it will not conflict with other required information, and (c) where it will contribute to a good visual balance in the overall design of the page.

In general, the following types of information are usually placed in running headers or footers:

1. Book/Work title
2. Chapter/Movement/Part title
3. Author/composer
4. Copyright notice
5. Page number
6. Date/Edition/revision number

Depending upon the type of work being published--book, magazine, newspaper, musical edition, etc.--various elements in the above list will be either required or deliberately left out. The parts in musical editions, because they are often photocopied onto loose sheets for use in school orchestras and bands, should contain all of the above information on each page so that should pages become mixed up in a student's music folder, he can identify them easily and put them back in order. The score, on the other hand, may omit some of this information in favour of lightening up the look of the page. It is the editor who decides what is included, and the designer who decides where to place it and in what typeface, font, and size.

In designing a page layout, the designer should take care that the page number is formatted and positioned so that it cannot be mistaken for anything else. Placing page numbers in running heads set flush left and right on facing pages is not ideal, because there is a possibility the page number could be read as a measure number or rehearsal mark. In addition, for performers, page numbers are less important than measure numbers during performance; so there is no good reason to put them right at the top of the page. While page numbers are important to a performer in preparing his part--especially if it contains separate sheets that needs to be taped edge-to-edge--once the baton drops the page number is just one more visual distraction to be ignored.

For the record, I don't really have a strong opinion on what the default should be. I'm not opposed to changing it; I am just concerned about the wasted space if we change it without *also* providing more control over headers and footers in general, as I explained previously.

Also, regardless of what the default is, each template could still define things in the way that makes the most sense for that type of score. The most natural choice for an choral score might not be the same as the most natural choice for the parts in an orchestral one, or in a jazz lead sheet, etc.

The most natural choice for an choral score might not be the same as the most natural choice for the parts in an orchestral one, or in a jazz lead sheet, etc.

Exactly. Marc has managed to sum up in one sentence what it took me four or five paragraphs to explain. ;o)

Should we perhaps consider simply not having a default placment for page numbers at all? That would oblige the user to decide where he wants them for his particular edition. I don't think that's a bad thing, actually.

As to the question of whether any header should be present at all, I do also want to open a discussion about putting the part name in the header when extracting parts—this, again, is in everything in my current orchestra folder and just about everything I've ever seen, and done by default in other major scoring applications.

Fwiw, I'm sitting here in the rehearsal room for the big band I direct and looking at music. It's about 50/50 on page numbers in header versus footer for the scores. For parts, header is slightly more common, and yes the part name is usually there as well (even in cases where the page number is in the footer).

Also, a lot of variety in what is centered versus placed in the margins.

I am afraid I have to repeat my point: If you have problems because you are playing from loose sheets don't blame the page numbers or the header or any other feature of the score! Blame yourself!

FWIW it is sufficient to have the option to conveniently change the placement of the page numbers; we don't need to go as far as having no default and making everybody work more.