Page layout, nudge a system.

• Jan 16, 2013 - 18:01

I've probably missed it - or else I'm searching under the wrong terms - but I just downloaded a score from CPDL, the first one I've seen in MuseScore (YEA!!). Here's the URL:…

Now, I'm sure it was intended to be on 2 pages but in MuseScore it comes up as 3pages, with only 2 measures on the last page, and a huge gap between the 1st and 2nd systems on page 2. I wanted to grab system 2 and slide it up, nudge things around until the "orphan" system came back to page 2. Then I could play with measures per system until it filled page 2 and looked better.

But I can't figure out how to select the second system and slide it up. I seem to remember that it was pretty straightforward on "those other programmes" but I can't seem to figure it out or find a "how to".

Any help would be appreciated. TIA.


... although I don't find the term "less stretch" very intuitive. But I've tried every synonym I can thing of to allow me to slide the systems on page 2 so they look better. Still stuck on that one.


In reply to by Shoichi

I'm guessing that your version 2.0 is a beta, not the "ready for prime time" release.

The main question remains - is there a way to select a system and move it up and down, i.e closer to the top or bottom edge of a page, or closer to other systems on the same page? It's the action of "selecting a system" that I can't seem to find.

In reply to by Shoichi

I opened the score you sent (thanks) and see that you were able to move the 4th system. I'm just not sure how you did it.

Also, if you look at the 3rd system (top of page 2) the barline at the end of the first measure is on top of the rest in mm2, beat 1.

Believe me - I'm not trying to find fault. I think what is being done here with MuseScore is fantastic. It's just that, as a neophyte, if I post all the difficulties I run in to, it's sort of like "testing". I'm not expecting immediate "answers" or "fixes" - just pointing out where I didn't find it as intuitive as I would have liked.

"It's impossible to make something foolproof - fools are much too ingenious."

In reply to by Roger Priddle

Go to > Style > Edit General Style > Page.

There you will be able to change the space between staves, systems and more. You can enlarge the display size at top and bottom by adjusting upper and lower margin.

As far as increasing the distance between systems, there is a spacer in the breaks/spacer pallet.

In reply to by xavierjazz

Is "sp" some abbreviation for a unit of distance that I don't know? I'm used to inches, centimetres, picas (I guess) but unless "sp" is short for "space" then I don't know what it is. And unless a "space" is some recognized constant that I don't know, "7.0sp" is not something I can relate to easily.

Can I suggest that the units should probably be whatever the default is for the O/S? But able to be changed by some setting?

| As far as increasing the distance between systems, there is a spacer in the breaks/spacer pallet.

Yes, I found that but couldn't figure out how to make it do anything. I dragged the marker to the system but the staves didn't move and, even if I figure it out, I wanted to "decrease" the distance between systems, not increase.


In reply to by Roger Priddle

Maybe this should be a new thread but...

This file is only 2 pages. Since it is a choral score I would, by preference, copy them side-by-side (on what we call "ledger paper") (17x11) then fold the printed side in so the pages face each other. Having done that, I would want the 2 systems on each page to line up across from each other. (If that doesn't seem to make much sense, I apologize - I don't find it easy to describe.) I just find the visual flow of the music easier to read.

I'm sure there is a way to do it but I can't seem to find it. And doing it "on screen" (WYSIWYG) is way easier than putting numbers into boxes then returning to see the effect of the change. If this functionality is not yet part of MuseScore, I understand - I can wait.


In reply to by Roger Priddle

That's printer job, printing 2 pages by sheet.
If the printer configuration in Musescore is not easy enough, print to pdf and then use some pdf viewer. Under linux Acroread is very convenient, including a way to print booklets.

In reply to by Roger Priddle

Regardfing the spacer, drag it to the top of the 2 staves you want to change the space between. Release it only when the bar changes colour.

You will then have a spacer attached to the stave. Double click it and it will become active, shown by boxes on each end. The lower one is active at this time (coloured).

Then use either your mouse or the down key to adjust it. I don't think you can decrease space with this tool, I only use it to increae distance.

In reply to by xavierjazz

I tried this - dragged the marker between the Tenor and Bass staves but couldn't make it active to drag the handle.

Then I dragged a spacer between the 1st and second systems on the page. The Bass on system 1 turned colour so I released. The spacer was there, I could double click and use that to increase the distance between systems.
Since that worked, I went back to try the same idea but this time to increase the distance from the top staff (soprano) to the top margin, or edge of the page. Nope.

Then I went back and tried again to have the spacer allow me to adjust the gap between Tenor and Bass staves. Even zoomed in I couldn't get the spacer to give me the handles.

Still trying.

In reply to by Shoichi

... I forgot to mention that I'm in Canada so the normal paper size is "Letter" 8.5 x 11 whereas the sample on the CPDL site is A4. So there's a huge gap between the 2 systems. If I could, I would drag the top system down, level with the upper system on Page 1, and drag the lower system up so the top is level with the lower system on Page 1.

Is there an on-screen way to drag the systems? I can't seem to figure how to get appropriate "handles" to allow me to drag the systems, or even to drag the individual staves.

It may not exist yet - if I knew that, I could stop looking.

Again, many thanks.

In reply to by Roger Priddle

There is no way to drag systems in MuseScore, there is no system like Finale has. It is a limitation that I hope gets rectified in the future. For now you have to get familiar with all the ways to adjust, manipulate and nudge things, and how to change the values on the Style/Page panel. Sometimes it is frustrating but bear with it.

In reply to by Roger Priddle


The first thing you should do is go to the Style/Edit General Style/Page dialogue.

Once there set Page Fill Threshold to 100%

This turns off MuseScore's auto system formatting which sapces the systems out evenly on the page.

You will now have a better idea of how much space you have left on the page.

Then watch the two videos on page formatting here:

And finally watch my video tutorial on the use of frames to format the page here:

If you still need help come back here :)


In reply to by ChurchOrganist

I see it done, so I know it can be done. I suspect I'm going to have to use it quite a lot before I find it "easy". "Frames" and "spacers" (i.e. inserting non-printing fillers) (at least, that's how I'm thinking of them) are a significant change from what I used to - click and drag, which I suspect does effectively the same thing but in the background.

If I've understood what you've done, you added a Page Break at the bottom of page 1 ("Breaks and Spacers", drag the Page Break icon to a point just above the end of the bar I want to be last on the page) and a Vertical Frame to the top of Page 2, sized to create the space I want to align the top of the 2 pages, plus another Vertical Frame between the 2 systems to align the top of the systems.

There's a bunch more, I suspect, but in prowling around I found the "scaling" box which defines the size of a "space". Is that a horizontal space, a vertical space, or both? And how does one insert a "space"?

Do you know if the plan is to add click and drag functionality in subsequent releases?

Meanwhile, I thank you for taking the time, both to work on the score and to answer all these questions.


In reply to by Roger Priddle

Glad that helped :)

The formatting angle of MuseScore is still pretty unintuitive, and indeed arcane until you know here to start. I am in the middle of preparing a series of Tutorial Videos on the subject, but I've got the project on hold for now because there are changes to the interface in MuseScore 2.0, and I want that to be in Beta stage before I devote any more hours of work to it :)

I'm sure a click and drag interface would be welcomed by most users. Being Open Source, however, the thing to do is either write the code for it yourself, or find a coder who can do it for you, then submit it as a pull request on GitHub. You could wait for the fulltime development team to get on to it, but they have a million other feature requests to deal with :)


In reply to by ChurchOrganist

boy, I'd love to be able to help writing code for a project like this but my first programming language was Fortran IV and the last was VERY early HTML. I'm only about 30 years out of date.

All I can do is admire those who stay current and who are willing to invest the kind of time and thought necessary for this kind of project.

So, you (and the whole crew working on this project) have my thanks and my respect and if I ever post something that sounds either critical or impatient it's not that - I think I'm being "helpful" and "enthusiastic".


In reply to by ChurchOrganist

I watched the video - thank goodness I'm not still on dial-up! - and I have a quick question.

A couple of times you mentioned in the video on frames that I needed to do (whatever it was) now, because I wouldn't be able to do it later. Ok, 2 points. I've already forgotten what it was I won't be able to do, so I'm hoping that will be in the manual somewhere - of course, the first time I mess it up I will learn an indelible lesson - and 2) do you think I WILL be able to do (whatever it was) in future releases? (That affects how seriously I go back to look for whatever it was...)


Lots of information here, but let me try to summarize the import stuff:

- "sp" is indeed a standard unit of measurement, at least in music typesettings - it's literally the size of a space (the space between staff lines). It's the most natural unit to use for most elements in music typesetting, because that way everything sclaes nice and cleanly if you decide you want to print larger or smaller.

- Generally speaking, you don't normally increase or decrease space between systems manually. You *can't* decrease it. Yu can increase it, but that's more a special case when you want some staff to have space before or after it than the rest - like between movements, or perhaps for a coda system.

- Instead of thinking in terms of adjusting space between systems manually, you need to really get inside how the page layout algorithms work. The most common sprts of adjustments you would want to make are done in Style / Edit General Style / Page. And the one that always gets people is Page Fill Threshold. Think of the system space setting in this dialog dialog as setting a "default" or amount of space. MuseScore puts systems on a page with this amount of space until no more systems fit. If the result comes "close" - as defined by the page fill threshold - to filling the page, then MuseScore automatically pads the systems more so they take up the full page. That's what happened on page 2, apparently. For whatever reason, MuseScore couldn't fit another system on that page, but what was there exceeded the threshold, so it padded them to fill the page. You can disable that padding by setting the page fill threshold to 100%, but you won't get more systems - MuseScore has already fit as many as it can given the rest of the settings in that dialog.

- The most straightforward way to get more systems on a page is to decrease the system distance and/or change the overall scaling (the size of the "sp" unit; set in Layout / Page Settings). One thing I sometimes do - set it smaller than necessary so each page will have at least as many systems as I want, then put in explicit page breaks where necessaryto get the number of systems I want, and set the page fill thrshold very low so all pages are filled out. I sometimes take the same approach with respect to "stretch" - set it smaller than necessary so each system has at least as many measures as I want, then use line breaks on every line to get the number of measures i want.

- Lyrics also take additional space, so unfortunately, if some systems have lyrics and others don't - or they have different numbers of verses - it is difficult to get consistent spacing. The above trick can help. Also play with the lyric margin setting the style dialog.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

It's always amazes me how, when I'm being dense, the community jumps in to help.

Ok, so a "space" is a space - as in "lines and spaces". Changing the size of that defines the height of a staff because there are - 6? - spaces to a staff (minimum). 1 above, 4 in, 1 below. I assume that the use of ledger lines adds more spaces, therefore increases the size of the staff, but that's not the norm.

There must be a "normal" spacing between staves in a system - does Piano assume the Grand Staff idea (i.e. 11 lines, 1 erased for middle C) or is there a pad between treble and bass to make it easier to read? (Not an important question - just came up while I was reading...)

I know nothing about the conventions of music typography, and I normally work with the simplest of layouts - SATB, no piano reduction, no divisi parts. Obviously, I need to play with the programme, to experiment with settings. Then, when I have it totally screwed up, I'll post it in a desperate cry for help!

The beauty of the Open Source community is that I'm confident help will arrive!

Many thanks

PS - I'm printing your message for easy reference. Now you're officially immortalized (since, as my wife reminds me frequently, I never throw anything out!)

In reply to by Roger Priddle

Actually, as far as MuseScore is concerned, a staff consists just of the five lines and the four spaces between them - no extra room is allocated for ledger lines as far as I know. So if you set the space between systems to zero, they will touch, and notes on ledger lones will overlap the previous/next staff. I consider this a good thing - it makes staff spacing predictable once you know the score (pun not intended; I was actually trying to avoid the word "system" for the same reason!). I just wish lyrics behaves the same.

The space between staves for a smgle instrument (eg, piano grand staff) is set by the "accolade distance" in that same dialog (that's a pretty obscure term in English; guessing the equivalent might be more common in German?). I assume the default value is pretty standard, but you can certainly tweak it if you like. There is also "staff distance" which affects the distance between staves for *different* instruments - like between a flute staff and a clarinet . Set them all to zero and you'll see for yourself there is no extra space allocated for anything (except lyrics).

And yes, open source is great! Needless (?) to say, I've written up some version of my post above several times before, and hopefully I het better at each time based on the followup questions. Between that, the Handbook entry for Page Layout, and the videos by Michael and Katie, there's good info out there, but we all have our own ways of working.

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