There are two main reasons why you would want to hide staves in a score. For playback and to reduce the page count of the score. This post deals with the latter, reducing the page count of a score using Finale and Sibelius.

Hiding Staves in Scores

The term hiding staves is what is used in the current versions of Finale and Sibelius. In Finale 2010 and earlier versions, they used the term Staff Optimization.  Hiding Staves is used to remove any staff in a system that has no notation. The effect is more systems can be placed on a page and hence the page count is reduced.

Below is an example of a non-optimized score – none of the staves have been hidden.  Note that all staves are visible even those that have no notation – the winds and brass.

(Page from Schubert’s 8th Symphony from:,_D.759_%28Schubert,_Franz%29)

The example below is the third movement from Mahler’s Symphony #1. The empty staves have been hidden as the movement opens with only two instruments playing.  The other staves have been hidden until they have notation.  This example saves approximately two pages because the staves with no notation are hidden.


Hiding blank staves is frequently done in choral scores especially when the piano is playing by itself such as the case in the introduction of many choral pieces. See the “Let My People Go” score where the vocal scores are hidden during the 2-bar introduction.


How to Hide Staves in Sibelius

  1. To hide Staves in Sibelius 7, select the staves that you want to effect.
  2. Choose Layout > Hiding Staves > Hide Empty Staves.

How to Hide Staves in Finale 

  1. Select the staves you want to effect.
  2. Choose the Staff Tool (looks like a treble clef).
  3. From the Staff Menu, select “Hide Empty Staves.”

System Separators

If you do decide to use the hiding staves feature, it is also a good idea to show the system separators on the left side of the score to indicate where the systems break.  You will see these in the Mahler score on the left side of the page below the end of each system.

Showing System Separators in Sibelius

  1. Choose Engraving Rules
  2. Click on Instruments
  3. Adjust the minimum number of staves if necessary, to match the number of staves in the score.

Showing System Separators in Finale

Finale has a plug-in to insert system separators. However, once they are placed in the score, it is cumbersome to edit them, so don’t run the plug-in until the page layout is complete.

Choose the Plug-ins Menu > Scoring and Arranging > Score System Dividers

TIP: When I am working with an instrumental score and there is only one system per page, I typically don’t hide any staves.  Also, with instrumental scores where you are using hiding, it is a good idea to start hiding staves afterthe first system so the conductor  sees the required instrumentation in the first page of the score.