I am often asked what time saving techniques I use to speed the note entry process in notation software. One key tip is to create your own custom templates and reuse them as needed. This saves time for note entry in Finale orSibelius. When you are ready to create an exercise, just select the custom template and begin. Let’s cover this in both Finale and Sibelius.

Sibelius Manuscript Paper
In Sibelius, there are pre-made templates called manuscript paper. To access these pre-made templates, go to File > New Score or select “Start a New Score” from the Quickstart Window. When the first New Score window appears, on the left you will see the templates, called manuscript paper, that are available. These load when you install Sibelius for the first time.

Click on any item in the left side of the New Score screen and you will get a preview of it on the right. When you find the closest match, click the Change Instruments option to customize the score. Take your time during this step. If you get the score looking correct and the instruments (staves) in the correct order, it will save time during note entry.

SIBELIUS TIP: Save your custom score set-up as Manuscript paper so it shows up in the list every time you create a new score.
I have several ensembles that I write for. For each one I create a custom manuscript paper and name it accordingly. Then, when I want to create a warm-up exercise or score a piece for the group, I select it from the Manuscript Window.

To save your custom score as manuscript paper:

1. Create just the blank score. Don’t include a time signature, key signature or title, as you will add those for every individual project.
2. After completing the first page of the Score Setup window in Sibelius, Save the file with a memorable name.
3. Choose file (File > Save). This is an important step because the Manuscript paper items are in alphabetical order.
4. Then, export the file as manuscript paper: File > Export > Manuscript paper.

Now, start a new score. When you get the Manuscript paper screen you will see the new custom paper you just added. This is a huge time saver. See the list below. Notice my custom manuscript paper: Band Hav 2008.

Finale Templates
One of the improvements that was introduced in Finale 2008, is an easy way to access and edit Templates. Finale now refers to these as Ensembles.

FINALE TIP: save your custom setup in Finale 2008 or later as a New Ensemble

1. First, choose the Set-up Wizard from the launch window or select it from the file menu.
2. You will see several ensembles (templates) on the left side of the window. You can select one of the existing ensembles or click the Create New Ensemble button.
3. After you create or edit an ensemble, on the second page of the Set-up Wizard, “Add or Delete Instruments,” there is a button at the bottom of the window: “Save As New Ensemble.” Be careful to name it with a memorable name.
4. After you save a new Ensemble, it will appear at the bottom of the Ensemble list the next time you create a score.

I spend time creating templates for marching band parts, specialized instrumentation, certain types of custom page layout, customized drum maps, and more. I had a student in a summer workshop a few summers back who spent two straight days creating a template for his percussion ensemble. He edited the drum maps, page layout and other aspects. Then, he saved it for future use as Manuscript paper (Sibelius) or an Ensemble (Finale). Creating and saving custom templates will save you a huge amount of time in the note entry process.

TIP: You can edit the custom list of Manuscript Paper or Ensembles in both Finale and Sibelius. For example, you may to re-name or delete items from the list. Consult the software documentation for specific steps.

There are lots of templates and files that you can download for free. They are on the companion websites for my books on Finale and Sibelius. You can download these files and templates for free and you don’t need to own a copy of either book. Check them out at:
Finalebook.com and click on Downloads.

Sibeliusbook.com and click on Chapter Files/Downloads

Do you have any other sources of templates that you find helpful when working with notation software?