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Making the most of Finale

If youve followed the step-by-step procedures to this point, youve seen most of Finales
tools at work. Youre not expected to remember all this material, of course; you can always
re-read the in-depth discussions presented in this volume and consult the User Manual and
QuickStart Video Tips at any time (under the Help menu).

But knowing which tools are at your disposal is only half the learning process. Now you need
to learn how to maximize the programs speed and power to produce the most music, with the
fewest false steps, and in the shortest time.

Document Styles
As mentioned earlier in this tutorial, Finale allows you to reuse document settings from any
existing document by designating it as it as a Document Style. A Document Style is basically
a model document whos settings can be inherited by new scores created with the Setup
Wizard. When you designate a file as a Document Style, you are telling Finale you would like
to use its articulations, expressions, fonts, staff lists, score lists, staff styles, page layout and
other document options and libraries along side the instrumentation and other settings you
define in the Setup Wizard.

Creating a new Document Style is as easy as saving a file with the desired libraries and
document settings to the Finale 2011/Music Files/Document Styles folder. The next time you
open the Setup Wizard, the file will be listed as a document style.

Working with templates

Its a good idea never to build any score configuration more than oncesave any such
template, with no music in it, so that you can open it the next time you need a similar system

As an alternative to using templates, you can save a custom

ensemble in the Setup Wizard. This allows you to choose a different
Document Style whenever you start a new file using your custom

When you open a template document, Finale opens the last two pages of the Setup Wizard
where you can customize the templates title, composer, time signature, key signature, and
other settings. Upon finishing the Wizard, Finale opens a new untitled document based on
your settings (so you dont accidentally change the original). Youll find more than 30
different kinds of blank scores (piano-vocal scores, choral setups, chamber orchestra scores,
and so on.)
To preserve a blank original template while opening a duplicate to work on:

1 From the File menu, choose New, then Document from Template. The Open dialog
box appears, allowing you to choose a template folder, then document.

1 Double-click the template you want to open and finish the Setup Wizard. When the
document comes to the screen, its called Untitled. This technique achieves the same
result as the Save As technique: It preserves the original template for future use, and
brings an untitled copy to the screen.

Saving new templates

Open any document and make the desired settings. For example, if you plan to compose a
multimovement flute piece, you might add some flute staves and create a flute quintet
template. When youve set up your score, from the File menu, choose Save. Then, from the
Files of Type drop-down list, choose Finale Template File *.FTM. Name the file whatever
you wish and save it to a memorable location, such as the Finale 2011/Music Files/Templates
folder (which opens automatically when you choose File > New > Document From
Template). Note that you can save the .FTM file anywhere, and anytime you open it, Finale
will create a duplicate copy and leave the original template alone.

Order of entry

In general, you can make the most of your time by creating your documents in the following
order. Save your work frequently. The list below is just one possibility; you may find a
different order suits your style better.

1 Use the Setup Wizard or a template to define the instruments and basic layout of your
piece. If needed, add, delete or edit staves with the Staff Tool.

1 Enter the music using the Simple Entry Tool, Speedy Entry Tool, or HyperScribe.

1 Edit the music with the Simple Entry Tool. Get familiar with the numeric keypad
commands, including duration shortcuts and keystrokes for selecting other tools.
Remember, you can right-click (Mac -click) any entry to edit it with a context
menu, or -click (Mac -click) to select any note and use a modifier keystroke
to edit the note. To see a list of keystrokes, from the Simple menu, choose Simple Edit

1 Using the Playback Controls, listen to your piece to check for mistakes.

1 Put in the lyrics using either Type into Score or Click Assignment.

1 Use the Repeat Tool or one of the Repeat Plug-ins to place any repeats.

1 Add chord symbols and fretboards.

1 Put in all the expression markings: articulations, dynamics, slurs, and so on. Assign
your most frequently used markings to Metatools.
1 Verify that the music is spaced correctly; if necessary, use the Music Spacing
commands in the Utilities menu.

1 Use the Resize Tool to specify the overall size of the music (by clicking the upper-left
corner of the page).

1 Look the piece over in Page View. Fix bad page turns or system breaks, using the Fit
Music command under the Utilities menu. Use the Selection Tool to move measures
up or down systems as necessary using the up and down arrows.

1 Hide empty staves in systems, if necessary, by using the Hide Empty Staves command
under the Staff menu.

1 Add rehearsal notes, subtitles, and page numbers with the Text Tool.

1 Use the Page Layout Tool to make final adjustments to your score and parts.

Speed tip: Minimizing screen redraws

Finale is a vast, graphics-intensive program; like any such program, it pushes the computer to
its processing limits.

Completing your scores in the order described in the Order of Entry section will help speed
Finale along. So will using Staff Sets whenever possible, to hide the staves youre not
working on.

There are several built-in features that speed Finale along, too, by minimizing the amount of
screen-painting (image processing) the program has to do.

Sliding the music diagonallyYou may notice that Finale redraws the screen every time you
move around the score using the scroll bars. But what about moving diagonally within your
score? Instead of using the horizontal scroll bar, then the vertical scroll bar, you can use the
Hand Grabber Tool (on the Main Tool Bar) to move diagonally within your score in a
single movement. Even betterinstead of changing tools just to adjust your view of the
music, press the right mouse button, and drag the music. Release the button, and resume
working with whatever tool was selected.

Using keyboard shortcuts

Many of the most commonly used Finale commands and functions have keyboard shortcuts.
You may have noticed that pressing -A is the same as choosing Select All from the Edit
menu, -D is the same as choosing Redraw Screen, and pressing -U is the same as
choosing Update Layout.

You may find it especially useful to select Finale tools without having to use the mouse. In
Windows, you can assign any Finale tool to one of the function keys F2 - F12 (F1 and F10
are reserved by Windows). To assign a tool to a function key, select the tool to be assigned,
then press and type a function key. To switch tools, type the tools function key. To
assign a keystroke to any menu item, use the TGTools menu Shortcuts plug-in.

And while it doesnt actually qualify as a keyboard shortcut, Finales power-OK and
power-Cancel techniques can save you a lot of time. Any time youve crossed through
several dialog boxes to make a certain setting (to create something in the Shape Designer, for
example), you dont have to retrace your steps back through those dialog boxes. Instead, click
OK or Cancel while pressing the key. Youll return directly to the score.


The built-in keyboard shortcuts described above and Metatools are all well and good, but
what about commands that you use often but which have no keyboard equivalents?
Furthermore, what about multistep procedures (switch into Page View, Scale View to 75%,
click Page Layout Tool, indent first system, click OK) that you perform often?

If youre even a moderate efficiency demon, you should try the FinaleScript plug-in. This
plug-in was designed to provide an easy way to automate repetitive tasks, so a series of
commands can be run once for any number of documents, instead of over and over again
manually. For example, instead of opening and changing the spacing, transposition, and
layout of many documents manually, this plug-in allows you to run the same set of
commands to all of these documents at once. A series of commands can also be applied to a
single document. To access the FinaleScript plug-in, from the Plug-ins menu, choose
FinaleScript, and select FinaleScript Palette. Also, see FinaleScript plug-in.

In addition to the FinaleScript plug-in, you might also consider linking Finale up with a third-
party macro program. A macro is a series of stepsdragging, choosing menu commands,
typing, and so onthats been automated and programmed to execute itself when you press a
certain keystroke.

Macro programs let you perform any such sequence with a single keystroke. QuicKeys (CE
Software: 1-800-5CE-SOFT), or Tempo Shortcutter (Affinity Microsystems: 1-800-367-
6771), for example, can make your life with Finale easier. If youre unfamiliar with a macro
program, youll have to sit down with its manual and learn how it works. But its a
worthwhile investment of time, and will pay for itself many times overevery time you

work with Finale, in fact, and get to watch the macro program perform a routine multistep
task for you.

Furthermore, you can use a macro program to map tool keyboard equivalents (since Finale
provides only ten). For Windows users, check out the menu Shortcuts Plug-in for another
built-in Finale macro program.
Links to the rest of the world

Finale is the most well-connected program you can imagine. It can share its images with
graphics programs, its lyrics and text blocks with word processing programs, and its music
with sequencers, or other notation programs. With the Finale Showcase, you can even post
your files on the Finale music website and share with
friends across the globe.

One of the most useful examples of Finales cooperation with other software is its ability to
handle standard MIDI sequencer files. These special files contain MIDI playback data. Most
sequencer programs (Digital Performer, Sonar, Cubase, and so on) can generate and read
them, and so can Finale. That means that you can create your music in your favorite
sequencer; when its polished and ready to be notated, save it on your disk as a MIDI file and
open it with Finale; it will turn into standard notation. When you attempt this process, youll
discover that Finale offers literally dozens ofseveral options for separating and recombining
the music on the various tracks of the sequencer file. If you want, Finale will even retain the
velocity, rhythmic feel, and controller information from the original sequence. See MIDI
Files in the User Manual for more details.

Note, too, that Finale 2011 can read files created in other music notation programs from
MakeMusic, including SongWriter, Finale, Allegro, Finale Guitar, and NotePad. Files created
in earlier versions of Finale, as well as any of MakeMusics notation programs, can be
opened in Finale directly, even in the opposite platform. For example, files created in
PrintMusic! 2004 for Windows can be opened in Finale 2011 for Macintosh. You can also
read older cross-platform files, including those from Allegro, Finale Guitar, PrintMusic, and
NotePad. IMPORTANT: None of MakeMusic's older products can read Finale 2011 files
directly. To share your files with others who do not own the most recent version of Finale,
have them download Finale Reader 2011 which is available for free at and will open any file saved from Finale 2011. Also, you can
use the Music XML utility to save files in XML format which can be opened by older Finale
versions (back to Finale 2000) using a special third-party Dolet Music XML plug-in
(developed by Recordare) installed to the plug-ins folder. See also Importing in the User
Manual for more details.

In addition to the plug-ins available with Finale 2011, there are also a number of additional
plug-ins available created by third-party developers that can improve efficiency and automate
tasks. For example the TGTools and Patterson Plug-ins Lite options under Finales Plug-ins
menu are samples of the full TGTools collection available at and the
Patterson Plug-in collection available at There are also a number
of other plug-in available. See for a list of several.

In addition to third-party plug-ins, you can also use music fonts created by third-party
vendors. A wide variety of music fonts are now commercially available and can be used with
Finale. See Fonts in the User Manual.