When you are creating a score in Finale, Sibelius or any other notation program, using the proper score order is recommended.  There are several ways to make changes to the score order in Finale and Sibelius and these will be address in this post.

New Score from Template

When you are starting a score, both Finale and Sibelius have templates. Finale calls them Ensembles and Sibelius Manuscript Paper. This is the easiest way to review score order as these templates have been created by musicians with knowledge of the common score order for scores. Here are the steps:


  1. Choose File > New > Document with Setup Wizard or from the Launch Window click “Setup Wizard.
  2. Select an Ensemble from the left column.
  3. You can also choose from one of the score order options via the menu below the instruments in the score list.
  4. You can edit the staves in the score by selecting them and adding or removing them from the Select Instrument(s) window.
  5. You can adjust the order of instruments by selecting the instrument and clicking the arrows to the right of the instrument list.
  6. And, if you do make adjustments, you get the option to save the ensemble as a custom one and it will be added to the Ensemble list for later use.



  1. Choose File > New
  2. Click on the “New Score” tab
  3. Choose one of the Manuscript Paper options. You can enter a word in the search box.
  4. Make adjustments to the score in the “Change Instruments” window: add or delete instruments from the list or move the order by selecting the instrument and under “Move” choose up or down.
  5. You can save the custom score as Manuscript paper and it will be added to the list for future use.  To add it to the list of Manuscript Paper, choose File > Export > Manuscript paper.
    : You will get a warning, “This will add this score to the list of Manuscript Papers that appear when you start a score.” Click Yes.
    : Enter the title of the Manuscript paper. Remember that it will show up in alphabetical order so name it accordingly. Select the category and then click the Export button at the bottom of the page.

Score Order Overview

Small Combo and Rhythm Section

When writing for a jazz or rock combo with rhythm section:

  • Instruments or voice
  • Guitar
  • Piano
  • Bass
  • Drums

If there are multiple guitars or keyboard instruments, put them in alphabetical order within the above overall order.

Jazz Ensemble

  • Vocals
  • Saxophones: Alto, Tenor, Bari
  • Trumpets 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Trombones 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Guitar
  • Piano
  • Bass
  • Drums

Concert Band

Highest pitched instruments at the top. Order of families:

  • Woodwinds
  • Brass
  • Percussion


Highest pitched instruments at the top. Order of families:

  • Woodwinds
  • Brass
  • Percussion
  • Strings


Voices at the top from highest to lowest:

  • Soprano
  • Alto
  • Tenor
  • Bass
  • Piano
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    Hallo Tom,

    thank you for this article! But there is still a problem, I can’t fix.
    Suppose the whole finale-score (v2012) is ready and now you want to export via MIDI each instrument into Logic.
    And you hope that the order of instruments (flutes on top and basses on bottom) stays in the way you arranged it and that the names of the exported instruments are not something like “MakeMusikSoftSynth”, what is not really helpful because the export-procedure seems to disorder your score heavily: Flutes and basses are anywhere but not there where you placed them, not to speak from any violins or brass!
    I tried to manage this in finales “Score-View” but I had no success. So my simple question: What are your steps to arrange a template for an orchestra-finale-file with an easy access to export the right order with correct names to Logic?
    Thank you for any advices
    and have a good year!


    I’ve been doing this sort of thing for years and I’ve encountered this from time to time. I believe this is mostly to do with the staff numbering order in Finale. This is something you rarely see since Finale’s interface shows us staff and group names when we look at the score, but under the hood, every staff has a discrete number. When you export as MIDI (Type 1) Finale turns each staff into a MIDI track and assembles the file in the order the staves were numbered, which is almost always different from the score order on the screen in Finale. To test this I launched Finale and selected 4 woodwind staves in the setup wizard, entered some notes so I’d easily recognize each staff inDigital Performer, then changed the order of the staves on the screen so 1-2-3-4 was now 1-4-3-2. Then I Exported as a MIDI file and opened the .mid file in DP. The tracks returned to their original 1-2-3-4 order in DP.

    The Staff numbers cannot be changed to fit score order that I know of. I use the QuickScribe editor in DP to double check when I’m not sure of something.

    This is something that MakeMusic should address. I will include it in my annual wish list that I send them. :)



    I purchased your book on Finale and so far it has bee very helpful. The lessons are laid out with a lot of thought. The index in your book is also EXTREMELY helpful. Years ago I used Encore to do notation. When the program was discontinued Finale was the only other option. Many times I tried, but just could not get into it. One of my biggest gripes still with Finale is that it is an extremely complicated program. I think he manual could be written a lot better. Also the fact that the help manual is online an not in a PDF is very annoying. Thanks again and great work on the book.

    Thanks for your comments about the book, Peter. I’m glad you are finding it to be helpful.
    I agree about the manual. There is one advantage to it being on line. Using Google, it is easier to search for items that it is using the PDF. For example, you can enter a string of search words in Google, which is not as successful in Adobe Reader.


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