Finale® Tips


Most of these tips were written for versions 2003a and 2010 (I currently use v., and while I've updated some tips, most are written for the older versions, so some of these techniques here have been incorporated or made obsolete by newer versions of Finale. The good news is that most of the core features of Finale don't change much between versions, so you should still find this helpful with newer versions. I strongly recommend you use a legal version of the software, because MakeMusic has great tech support. They always get back to me with a day or so and have saved me many hours of useless flailing about. Unfortunately, I lack the time and expertise to answer individual questions about Finale®, so please don't email them to me.


Drum Parts: Play 8, 16, etc.


A shorthand for jazz drummers:

  1. Select all the measures in the region using the Mass Edit Tool, then hit backspace to clear all entries.
  2. Select all the measures in the region using the Staff Tool, right-click and select "Blank Notation".
  3. ALTERNATIVE to below: Broadway Copyist font, Shift+D (shake articulation).
  4. Click over the first measure of the region with the Text Tool, choose Text | Font..., and select Jazz, Regular, 36 pt. (also Broadway Copyist font) Type Alt-0134 in the actual text box. (or Shift+D, which is a shake articulation in Broadway Copyist font) You will need to raise and center it over the measure region. Right-click on it for the Frame Attributes, assign it to the first measure of the region and specify the staff name. (By assigning it to a measure, you can copy/paste it much easier to other areas of the part.)
  5. Click again over the first measure of the region with the Text Tool, choose Text | Font..., and select Jazz Text, Regular, 20 pt. Type "Play 8" (or whatever) in the text box. Assign it to the first measure of the region as before.
  6. Select all measures except the last one with the Measure Tool, double-click the region and choose Invisible barline.
  7. If you need to put two of these sections on the same staff line, use the Mass Edit Tool to cram all the measures up there, and then use Mass Edit | Copy Measure Items | Text attached to measures to copy the text frames to the new section. When done, select the entire line and select Mass Edit | Music Spacing | Note Spacing to evenly space the measures.


Drum Parts: Cue Notes

[Version 25.5] See Finale® help, which shows how to create a custom staff style for cue notes with slashes.

The following steps are for entering drum cues.


Drum Parts: New Staff (fast)

This applies to v25 and later.

  1. Window|Score Manager
  2. Instrument List tab, select last in list to add staff to bottom.
  3. Add Instrument button, Drums | Drum Set
  4. Done!

Drum Parts: Staff and Percussion Map

There are a few steps to setting up a drum or percussion staff, which are not readily apparent from the documentation. First, select the entire drum staff using the Staff Tool.

  1. Right-click to set the Staff Style (i.e. "Percussion: 5-line Staff" or "Percussion: 1-line Staff").
  2. Double-click to open the Staff Attributes dialog.
  3. From the First Clef: combo box, select the percussion clef.
  4. From the Notation Style: combo box, select Percussion.
  5. If you don't need to edit the percussion note assignments, click OK, otherwise proceed as described below.

Finale 2010


NOTE: The Instrument List window must specifiy a drum patch (e.g. "Standard Kit") for notes on this staff to sound properly.

Click the Select button to open the Percussion Layout Selection (or Percussion Map Selection in v. 2003a) dialog. Select Drum Set (or Percussion, etc.) and click the Edit button to open the Percussion Layout Designer (or Percussion Map Designer in v. 2003a) dialog.

Finale 2003a

Check the Highlighted Notes box, and click either All Named Notes or All Notes. In addition, checking the View Only Named Notes box makes the list a little less cluttered when scrolling through the note assignment list box.


As far as entering the drum part itself, use the keys defined in your percussion map and the notehead and vertical placement will be automatic. Separate different instruments into layers as necessary, and hide some of the rests for readability. You can put cue notes in Layer 3, for example, then use View Active Layer Only to change them all at once to 75% of normal size.

jazz drums

Weirdness: Dragging notes vertically defeats the Percussion Map. In the following measure, all of the notes produce the same "cabasa" MIDI sound:


The difference is that the high B was dragged until the proper sound/pitch was heard, and the others were keyed in. Therefore, the percussion map only affects notes keyed or played in, not those dragged from a different vertical position. Remebering this can avoid some frustration when editing pre-existing drum parts.



For fretboard group names, I'm using these conventions:


Weirdness and How I Fixed It

Various strange occurances with Finale and what I did to correct it:


Explode Music

The Explode Music options work pretty much as you would expect, but Distribute To These Staves is a little funky. This allows you some control as to how a chord explodes into a different number of staves than there are notes in the chord.


Speedy Entry with QWERTY keyboard

To enter notes quickly using a typewriter keyboard:

  1. Select a measure while in Speedy Entry mode.
  2. Uncheck Speedy | Use MIDI Device for Input.
  3. Turn on Caps Lock.
  4. Select note by pressing the corresponding alpha key.
  5. Press the keypad number corresponding to the desired note duration. If you want tuples, hold down Ctrl while pressing the number key.
  6. For rests, either backspace over the note, or instead of entering a note, press Ctrl+(number of note duration). This does not seem to work with the keypad.

Note Entry using MIDI

To enter a series of notes/chords of the same duration using a MIDI keyboard:

  1. While in Speedy Entry mode, select a measure.
  2. To enter a bunch of notes/chords of the same duration:
  3. To notes/chords of different durations:
  4. For complete info, see Finale help and search for Speedy Entry.

Using a MINILAB mk II as MIDI keyboard:

  1. Finale MIDI settings normal for MINILAB: Midi/Audio | Device Setup | Audio Setup: ASIO.
  2. Speedy Entry: Use MIDI controller.
  3. Enter as described above.
  4. All Notes Off: Shift + either octave button.

Using a MINILAB mk II while watching video (or YouTube):

  1. Finale MIDI settings: Midi/Audio | Device Setup | Audio Setup: Disable. You will need to restart.
  2. Upon restart, you will be prompted to enable audio, but DON'T. (Otherwise, you won't hear audio from video.)
  3. DON'T use the CAPS LOCK trick for a series of notes. It won't work and it may lock up your computer, forcing a restart.

Jazz Scales for Soloists

This process will outline chords and notes for student soloists (e.g. for middle schools charts).


Jr. High Jazz Tips





Enharmonic Key Signatures

Finale can be a little stubborn with key signatures. For example, if you have a score in C# minor, the tenor sax part will be transposed to D# minor. For a lot of people, an Eb minor part would be a lot easier to read (particularly on chord changes), but Finale does not give you this option, because the score would need to be Db minor, not one of the choices allowed. So here's a workaround for an individual part (I haven't figured out a way to do this in the score, unfortunately):

  1. Select entire staff and double-click it to bring up the Staff Atributes dialog. You now have one of two options:
    1. Either uncheck the Transposition checkbox, or
    2. Leave it checked, and click the Select button next to it. This is the option you would use for tenor sax, for example, which is displayed up an octave and in treble clef. You would then proceed as follows:
      1. Select the Chromatic radio button
      2. Choose a concert key transposition from drop-down list (e.g. octave)
      3. Check "Set to Clef" and choose the proper clef
      4. OK. OK.
  2. Change key to the right one for the part.


Tempo Change

A tempo change within the piece is actually a measure expression (go figure...). The easiest way to insert one is with the tempo plug-in.


Repeat Symbol

For a one- or two-bar repeat, use the Staff Tool to select the measures. Right-click and choose Two-Bar Repeat, for example.

If cues notes in other layers don't appear,


Resize Parts or Score

The default size for scores is a little too small for readling on the bandstand (especially for, um, more mature eyes), so it's a good idea to resize/enlarge parts when finished to something like 110%.

Resize One Staff

An accompaniment to a solo will often have the solo part as a smaller staff above the accompaniment staff. To reduce one staff, select the Resize Tool and click anywhere on a blank space in the staff (not above or below a note).


In the example above, I set the flute part at 90% and the guitar part at 110%.


Guitar Notation

Divisi Parts

To enter divisi parts, you can either use Voices or Layers.


If the piece is relatively simple and has only two rhythmic voices, it's easier to manage using voices.


There are two voices and you can toggle between them by using the apostrophe key ('). The upper left of the Speedy Edit window will display either V1 or V2, depending upon which voice is currently being edited. NOTE: I've noticed that sometimes when I'm in V2 and I click on a note to move it vertically, Finale will flip back to V1. A workaround seems to be to press and hold the (') key while dragging the note to its new location.


If the piece is more complex rhythmically with several counterpoint lines, as in this example from Bach (big surprise), use layers.


There are four color-coded layers, and you can cycle between them with shift + apostrophe. The lower-left corner of the Finale window will indicate which layer is currently active.


Extra Spacing

To allow space at the beginning of measures for fingering numbers, go to Document | Document Options | Notes and Rests and set "Space Before Music" to about 0.11 or 0.12


Fingerings, String Numbers

Much of the following info was found in the Finale Forums:

1. How to add finger numbers/letters next to notes?
The finger numbers are already included in the default articulations. You may want to edit/duplicate them, however, if you want to change the font or size. I use Times New Roman 10pt Bold, but some guitar manuscripts use the Maestro font numbers for an older, classic look, and some use Arial for a more contemporary look. Also, see the note regarding Avoid Staff Lines in the paragraph below to help with positioning.

For p-i-m-a markings, use the Articulation Tool tool to create them as articulations. Click on the note to bring up the Articulation Select dialog, then click the Create button. The Articulation Designer dialog will appear. Click Set Font... (I use Times New Roman 10pt Italic), then click Main and choose the desired character (p-i-m-a). Clear the Avoid Staff Lines checkbox, so you can precisely adjust its position later, if necessary. Click Ok to get back to the Articulation Select dialog, then click Duplicate to make additional copies of this articulation that you can edit.

When finished, you can assign metatools for each of the articulations (p-i-m-a, 1-2-3-4-0) for faster input.

NOTE: You can use Note Expressions instead of Articulations to achieve the same effect. Using Articulations allows me to adjust accents/staccatos/fingerings without changing between Articulation and Expression tools.
2. How to add string numbers in circles next to some notes?
Easy Way: Create articulations as above and use WingDings (14pt) or WingDings2 font. The font for the numbers in the circles may not match your finger number articulations exactly, but it should be close enough.

Hard Way: This method allows you to match the font for your finger number/letter articulations exactly. Add Note Expressions using same font as finger numbers. Using the Expression Tool tool, click Create to bring up the Text Expression Designer dialog, check the Enclose Expression.. box. The Enclosure Designer box will appear. Select "Ellipse" for the shape (which will automatically create a circle); set line thickness to 0.00998 an height/width to 0.01389. Click Ok. In the Expression Selection dialog box you can click Duplicate for all six strings and edit the numbers.

For barre chord notation, use the text tool to insert roman numerals. Font: Times New Roman, 10pt.

3. How do I add string numbers (in circles) that last for 4-5 measures? I would like to do a number and then a line ending with a down slash to stop it.
Dashed Bracket tool within Smart Shape tool palette.
4. How do I add a strum sign (i.e. "rolled chord")? You know the one that looks almost like bunch of "Z's" stacked on top of each other.
Articulation Tool, #31 in the Articulation Selection dialog of my default document [Metatool "R"]. This articulation may be stretched vertically as needed by dragging the bottom of the two handles that appear. FYI, this works because the Copy the Main Symbol Vertically has been checked in the Articulation Designer for this particular articulation.

Guitar Expressions Library

To use the guitar expressions more than once:
Newly created expressions only apply to the document in which they're created.
You can either 1) save a blank document in which you've created all the new expressions you want as a template, or 2) save just the new expressions in a Text Expression library [File menu > Save Library... select "Text Expression" radio button] which can then be loaded into any new document.

I believe it is also necessary to UNCHECK the 'allow horizontal streching' checkbox. Otherwise when you change the size of your measures your circled numbers become ovals. I'm not sure if this is true with Finale 2004.


Keyboard Shortcuts

Dr. Frank's Finale Keyboard Shortcuts (PDF) is a nice reference sheet containing some of the more common shortcuts. It was published by the Music Division at Southern Methodist University, but I can no longer find it on SMU's Web site, so this is an archived copy I downloaded years ago.


Program a MetatoolSelect the tool, then press shift-number or shift-letter.
Apply a MetatoolPress a number or letter and click the score.
Program a keyboard equivalent for a toolTo assign a tool to a function key, first select the tool to be assigned, then press shift+function key (not F1 or F10).
Switch to a tool you've programmedPress the function key you've assigned.
Change layersAlt-Shift-layer number

Selection ToolAnyF12
Enharmonic Spelling Cycle (note)Speedy Entry (Activated)Select note, 9
Move between layersSpeedy Entry (Activated)Shift + ' (apostrophe)
Switch between voice 1 & 2Speedy Entry (Activated)' (apostrophe)
Select layerAnyShift + Alt + n
Transposition MetatoolsMass Edit7=8vb, 8=8va, 6=down ½ step, 9=up ½ step.
To program, press Shift+<6-9>,
which will pop up the dialog box.
Drag Entire PagePage ViewRight-click + drag
Zoom RegionPage ViewWheel-click + drag
100% ZoomAllCtrl + 1
200% ZoomAllCtrl + 2

Programmable Keyboard Shortcuts

Any menu selection may be assigned via Plugins | TGTools | Menu Shortcuts.

Octave Shortcuts

Use the Mass Edit Tool to select a region. Press one of the following on the number keypad:

Mass Edit Metatools 6 through 9 may be reprogrammed to any transposition. Just select the Mass Edit Tool and press Shift+(6,7,8,9); the Transposition dialog will appear and you can specify the transposition needed.


Collapse Layers

From Finale Support:

There is pretty much only one way to combine existing layers and it is not terribly easy.

  1. Create a staff for every layer you are using (3 layers = 3 staves).
  2. Go to the Edit menu and check "Show Active Layer Only".
  3. Use the Mass Edit Tool to copy/paste each layer to its own staff.
  4. Highlight all of the staves with Mass Edit and move all of the layers into Layer 1 using Mass Edit|Move Layers.
  5. Use Mass Edit|Utilities|Impload Music to implode all of the highlighted staves into one.
  6. Deleting the unnecessary staves.
The end result will be all of the layers combined into Layer 1 and sharing the same rhythmic values.


Coda Repeat Weirdness

To add a working coda to a score:

NOTE: Finale will not assign different Repeat IDs to multiple instances of the same repeat symbol. Therefore, for a playable coda, you will need to use different coda symbols for the target and repeat measures. For example, use the "To Coda" marking within the score and the plain coda marking on the coda. For printing or display purposes only, you may use the same coda symbol.


Score Formatting for Printing

This process will create a separate file for printing the score only. This is necessary because some of the changes will affect the way the real score plays.

Coda Layout in a Score

If the first measure of the coda is to be printed on the same page as the measure preceding the D.S. or D.C. (with a gap in between), use this technique, which will separate a coda visually from the rest of the score.

New method: (fastest)

The cleff, key and time signature won't be visible on the first coda measure, but they will still show at the left edge. This isn't pro-quality engraving technique, but it's close enough for jazz charts.

Old method: If you want to retain the clef, key signature, and brackets, use this technique.

Staff Spacing

(v. 26.3)

(v. 2010) This allows you to precisely specify the units of spacing between staves, versus just dragging them up/down and estimating.

Key Signature on First Staff Only

Options|Document Options..., select Key Signatures from the list at the left, then check the box shown below.


Orphan Split Staff

This lead sheet was written in treble clef, except for the coda, which needed a split staff for chords:

With the Staff Tool, I selected Staff|New Staves... to add one staff to the entire piece. I added a bass clef and bass notes where needed. Then, by selecting the Page Layout Tool and Page Layout|Optimize Staff Systems..., the empty staves disappeared, leaving the split staff in the coda only. (Notice the blue optimization icon to the right of the staff above the coda.)


Page Format: Size & Orientation

To change page size or orientation of a score:

  1. Document|Page Format|Score..., select Portrait or Landscape. Edit Height if needed.
  2. Select Page Layout Tool, then Page Layout|Redefine Pages|All Pages of Current Part/Score.

You can then add staves to the bottom of the score, if necessary.


Extract Parts

As a final check on the score, select everything with the Mass Edit Tool, choose Mass Edit|Utilities|Check Ties and then choose Mass Edit|Utilities|Check Accidentals. This will sweep for errors that Finale may have introduced during a copy/paste operation, for example.

Before extracting individual parts from the score, do a File|Save As... (e.g. _extract.mus) so you can make the following changes without messing up the original score:

When you select File|Extract Parts..., the Extract Parts dialog will appear.

Click the Options and Page Format buttons to bring up the following dialogs:


Under Part Names,

Page Format

See the screen shot with all the proper settings below.

Select each staff to be extracted. If extracting a piano part, select piano from the Group list and not the piano staves in the Staves list.

Staff System Formatting

The first staff system on page 1 should line up correctly with the second system on all subsequent pages, if you've used the margin settings above when extracting. Indent coda sections 0.8 from the left margin. Guitar can be a little tricky, especially if you're including fretboards, so that may need to be tweaked from the settings below.

Piano, title page system 1 Piano, coda
(w/ opt. vertical space)
piano_sys1 piano_sys_coda
Guitar, title page system 1 Guitar, system 2+ Guitar, coda
(w/ opt. vertical space)
guitar_sys_1 guitar_sys_2-20 guitar_sys_coda

Special Characters

SymbolFontKeystroke or Windows Alt-n
©Any alpha0169
flatJazz TextCtrl-Shift-F
sharpJazz TextCtrl-Shift-S
naturalJazz TextCtrl-Shift-N
codaJazz Text0245
brackets_1Jazz Text[, \, ], 0134
brackets_2Jazz Textshift+[, shift+\, shift+], 0129
brackets_3Jazz Text0154, 0155, 0156, 0151
brackets_4Jazz Text0178, 0179, 0180
brackets_5Jazz Text0181, 0182, 0183
BottomEnclosure_0161Braodway Copyist Text0158, 0161, 0182
DSJazz Text0246
rehearsal_AJazz Text0216
qtr_equalsJazz Text0139
8thJazz Text0137
half noteJazz Text0141
rest_barJazz Text0170, 171, 172



Make a huge measure with many more beats than you will need, e.g. 54/4. Select the Measure Tool and double-click the measure to display the Measure Attributes dialog. From the Time Signature combo box, select Always Hide. When done entering notes, reduce the number of beats accordingly. Select Mass Edit|Change|Note Size to resize notes to 75%


Rhythmic Notehead

This is useful when changing a single whole note for the final chord to a rhythmic whole note (diamond).
Click on the Special Tools button. Right-click on the notehead you want to change and select Edit from the context menu. In the Alternate Character frame, clear the Use Default Character checkbox and click the Select button to bring up the Symbol Selection dialog. Character 253 is the diamond shape.

To change a selected group of notes, the following works better:

For quarter/eighth/16th (closed notehead) notes:

For half/whole (open notehead) notes:


Replace Notes Quickly

Here is a feature of the Speedy Edit that seems to be undocumented and that some people might have missed: To quickly change/replace a note or a chord with another, just position the cursor horizontally (vertically it doesn't matter) where you want to do the replace, hold down the new note or chord on your MIDI keyboard and press the Enter key. The new tone material will now replace the old one, but preserves the old rhythmical value.

Another Speedy Edit trick is to play any 3-note cluster on the MIDI keyboard to create a rest.


Chord Changes

Use the Chord Tool for entering chord changes. For basic chords, selecting Chord | Type Into Score is easiest. Click on or above a note to get a cursor prompt, then just type the chord symbol (e.g. F-11). If Finale doesn't recognize it, you will be asked if you would like to add it to the chord library (see the section on Adding Chords below).

An alternative for more complex chords, choose Chord | Manual Input. Click above the target note, then in the Chord Definition dialog, type the root chord at top, then type the suffix number (if you know it) in the Suffix edit box at the bottom, or click the Select button next to it. Probably the easiest method is to type the root chord at top, followed by ":"+suffix number, as shown below:

Adding Chords to the Chord Library

To add a chord, start by clicking Help | User Manual | Jazz Character Map (Alt-H-M-Z), then page down to Jazz Chord Font. Note the extended character code for the desired symbol.

If you would like to be able to recall the chord suffix by typing in the suffix (e.g. Bb-13) versus using a suffix code (e.g. Bb:89), then allow Finale to prompt you for a new suffix either by typing into the score or by typing it into the Chord Definition dialog.

At this point, if you are not already looking at the Chord Suffix Editor dialog, do the following:

  1. Click on the target note to bring up the Chord Definition dialog.
  2. Make sure the Advanced button is toggled to show the Numeric Definition panel at the bottom.
  3. Click the Select... button to bring up the Chord Suffix Selection dialog.
  4. Click the Create... button to make a new suffix and bring up the Chord Suffix Editor dialog.
From here, you can edit the position and font size of the suffix. If the suffix will have more than one character, you need to step through each with the Next/Prev buttons and set the font size individually.

parentheses <>

The default font sizes for each font type can be viewed in ..\Libraries\Chord Suffixes\Chord Suffix Default Font Settings.txt

You can control whether or not you wan to hear the chord symbols on playback by checking/unchecking Chord | Enable Chord Playback.

Chord Repeat Symbol

Method 1

To display a repeat symbol above the staff, click the Expression Tool and double-click on the measure. If necessary, create a new measure expression for the repeat symbol with keystroke Alt-0212 using 20pt Jazz font. When the Mesaure Expression Assignment dialog appears, use distance settings of H: 2.654297 Beats, V: 0.20139.

Method 2

To enter a one-measure repeat symbol over a bar, use a text frame with character 0212 (18 pt) of the plain Jazz font, then attach the text frame to the measure via the frame attributes. If you check MassEdit | Copy Measure Items... and check Text Blocks, you can then use the Mass Edit tool to copy the repeat sign throughout the piece.

Chord Symbols with Slash Notation

To display chord symbols with measures that have the Slash Notation style applied, first attach the chords to notes in another layer. Then, click on the Staff Tool, go to Staff | Define Staff Styles, find Available Styles, and select 01. Slash Notation. Under Alternate Notation, click Select. Place a check next to "show items attached to notes in other layers." Click O.K. O.K.

To display a repeat symbol above the staff, click the Expression Tool and double-click on the measure. If necessary, create a new measure expression for the repeat symbol with keystroke Alt-0212.


Chord Scales for Soloists

To display chord scales where the chord and scale notes fit into one measure:

  1. Construct the chord on the first 8th note of the measure. Use the Special Tools | Note Shape Tool to change the noteheads to open notes, if desired.
  2. Add the scale notes using a note duration that will fit in the rest of the measure, e.g. 16th notes.
  3. With the Tuplet Tool, click on the first scale note and choose values that will fit, e.g. 9 16th notes in 7 8th notes.
  4. Click on the number square underneath the new tuplet and uncheck Show.
  5. With the Staff Tool, right-click on the measure and choose 16. Stemless Notes.

Tie Across 2nd Ending

Q: How can I insert a tie that continues across a 2nd ending barline? In the example below, I'd like the E quarter note in the 2nd measure to be notated as being tied to the E half note before the 1st ending.

A: You could insert a slur using the Smart Shape Tool, slur tool. Double-click and drag backwards from the note in the second ending and a backwards slur/tie will appear.


Layers: Copy Between Measures

You can copy a layer from one measure to another as follows: