4 Steps To Your Perfect Score Layout

Creating the perfect score layout is an important step in finalizing your music. And in the video below, we'll look at four steps to laying out your ideal score page.

In case you don't like watching videos, we've also provided the transcript for your convenience.

(Please note, the Home and Premium editions of FORTE support all the possibilities discussed. The Free and Basic editions provide more limited layout options.)

You'll find your layout options in the main menu "Score" and then in the group "Layout." 

Let's look at each of the tabs in detail... 

Transcript – create that perfect score layout quickly and easily


Step 1 – General Setup

The tab "Setup" gives you the general layout options and this is where you can set the more general style guidelines. 

Here you can select the displayed instruments, name the score and select the sizes of the texts, lyrics and staves.

Editing FORTE's layout for the perfect score layout

On the right hand side, there’s a little preview. This preview is a great help for your layouting. The gray boxes symbolize the staves. Please keep the gray boxes within the dotted frame. You can see the effects of your layout editing immediately displayed in this preview box.

The option “Staff Size” allows you to scale the size of the staves up or down. If you select a different staff size, you can preview the result in the preview box on the right hand side. The regular 100% are already a little bit tight for this score. If you write music for several instruments, a scale of 70 to 90% will be optimal. We recommend the value of 70 to 90% when you’re planning on many systems per page as well.

Let’s look at “Fonts”: you can edit the global font types and sizes for your score here. You can edit the lyrics as well as the numbers which are used to count the measures and the pages. You can, of course, also adjust the styles of the general text, the chord names and the style of guitar charts. The principle applies to all elements.

Step 2 – Margins

Editing FORTE's layout and margins for the perfect score layout

Next, you can set up the page margins for your score in “Margins.”

In the upper area, you can select the paper size and switch between portrait and landscape orientation.

The item “First System Indent” helps you define the indent of the first system from the left and also from the top of the page.

In the lower section, you can set up the format for both your left and right pages... 

If you want to print on single pages, keep the values the same for both pages. We recommend a 2cm margin for your pages, but if you need more printing space for your music, you can reduce the margin.

It's worth noting here that not all printers support borderless printing. 

Once you set all the margins, the settings are applied to your whole score.

Step 3 – Spacing 

Editing FORTE's spacing and layout for the perfect score layout

Here in "Spacing" are perhaps the most important layout options for your FORTE score. Changing and adjusting the values of this tab influences the spacing of your staves, your lyrics and all the elements around your notes.

The values for “Staff Spacing” and “Symbol Spacing” refer to ledger lines above and below. They do NOT represent metric units.

For example, if you select “5” as your staff spacing above, the space of five ledger lines above the staff will be respected. If this number is too small, you will not be able to write notes above the staff at all. We recommend you settle for three to five spaces in each category. Your adjustments are immediately visible in the preview of your layout on the right-hand side.

If you write for a piano or a grand staff, there is a separate spacing value.

With “Symbol Spacing” you can decide upon the spacing between the staff and your elements. If I increase the value here, the piano symbol will shift upwards. Set up the spacing value for your lyrics as well.

“Default Setup” sets the general number of measures per system and systems per page. If you write a song with lots of lyrics and small note values, you’ll probably find two to four measures per system works well.

As the name suggests, the option “Systems per Page” edits the number of systems per page. With larger scores, you’ll find one or two systems is enough for one page.

You can check the layout using the preview on the right-hand side. If the grey boxes do not fit within the borders, simply decrease the values until they do. And if you still need more space on your page, go back to the spacing options, the margin options or the staff size above.

Step 4 – Detailed Options

Editing FORTE's layout for the perfect score layout

With the last tab, “Options,” you can edit the display of page and measure numbers.

The option “Enable multi-measure rests” is also found here. Within a part of your score, you can automatically merge rest measures. When this option is activated, any amount of more than four rest measures is merged.

Furthermore, you can activate the display of clefs and keys at the beginning of each system.

You can also disable the automatic beaming of notes, an option that may be vital for your choir music.

We hope you have a lot of fun creating your perfect score layout!

What now?

If you don't already have FORTE notation software, why not download a FREE 14-day trial and try it out for yourself?  

And finally, we'd love to know if you found this video and post helpful... let us know in the comments below!

8 replies
  1. Don Novak
    Don Novak says:

    Thanks for explaining that the numbers for spacing represent ledger lines. I’ve always dealt with this just by trial and error. Now I know.

  2. Ying-Chih Lin
    Ying-Chih Lin says:

    Dear Sir:
    I have purchased a FORTE software. Now I have a question:
    Is there a way to control the number of score sections in a line of staff? Or the number is simply set by the software?
    Your prompt reply will be highly appreciated.


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