Staff Sets

Staff Sets allows you to modify your staff sets on the fly as well as store and retrieve them using Saved Settings. You can also associate a preferred View Percentage that is invoked along with the Staff Set. The plugin stores extra information about each configured staff set in text expressions in the "Pat Plug-In Data" category. While you can access these directly from Finale's Expression Selection dialog, this is highly discouraged.

The plugin has a base menu as displayed below.

Staff Set Menu

The Configure option brings up the Staff Sets dialog and allows you to choose the staves and other options for a given staff set. Each of the Staff Set # options makes the given staff set active in the document window, if the window is in Scroll View. These options are nearly identical to the native Finale options (View->Staff Sets->Select Staff Set #), but they also apply the view percentage if you have set one.

To configure a staff set, simply select the staves you wish to include in the staff set and invoke the Configure option. If you invoke the plugin without selecting any staves, the Staff Set dialog starts out either with all staves selected (if you are in Page View or if you are currently viewing All Staves) or with the staves of the current staff set selected. This last feature is particularly useful, because it allows you quickly to add or remove staves from the current Staff Set without re-selecting all of them, as you would have had to do without the plugin.

By means of Saved Settings, you can save as many named staff sets as you wish, and invoke them later. This effectively gives you an unlimited number of staff sets. Unlike those built in to Finale, these staff sets are globally stored. The plugin will allow any staff set to be applied to any file. If the target file lacks staff numbers specified in the staff set, you are warned, but you may apply the staff set anyway. (Non-existent staff numbers are ignored.) However, the plugin has no way of knowing what the staff numbers are, so a staff set that was the brass section in one file might turn out to be the percussion section in another. It is even possible that the target file might have the same staff numbers but in a different order. Applying a global staff set could lead to a bizarre-looking display, but it will not cause any damage.

Nevertheless, intelligent application of global staff sets could be a benefit, and they continue to be supported in V5. Beyond this, the Use Active and Use Selected options are useful in any file, particular as part of a Saved Setting. All Saved Settings appear in the same menu (mixed in alphabetically) with the nine base menu items above.

See Common Uses of Staff Sets for recommendations on how to use this plugin.

 Staff Sets  

Description. This is a free-form text field intended to describe the staff set. After the staff set is saved in the document, this text appears next to the number in the Use Finale Staff Set popup menu. A future version of the plugin may also place this text in the Staff Sets menu, if Finale ever provides a practical way for plugins to change the text of plugin menu items on the fly. This text may also be useful when you are using Saved Settings, as an aid for remembering which file the staff set originally came from.

Use Active. Selecting this option causes the plugin to ignore the staff list. Instead, it searches the measures selected when you invoked the plugin. Every staff that contains music within those measures is included in the staff view when you hit OK. If no measures are selected, the plugin searches the entire document. This option is particularly useful for a saved setting.

Use Selected. Selecting this option causes the plugin to ignore the staff list. Instead, it includes in the staff view the specific staves that you selected when you invoked the plugin. If no staves were selected, the plugin includes every staff. This option is particularly useful for a saved setting.

Use List. Selecting this option causes the plugin to include the staves specified in the staff list.

(Staff List). This is a list of every staff in the current file. If you are looking at a Saved Setting, the list is still the staff list of the current file and not the file from which the staff set was originally created.

Select Active. This button changes the selected staves in the staff list to only those staves that contain music within measures you selected when you invoked the plugin. If no staves were selected, the plugin includes every staff that contains music.

Select Current. This button changes the selected staves in the staff list to exactly those stave you selected when you invoked the plugin. If no staves were selected, the plugin includes every staff.

Select All. This button selects all staves in the staff list.

Select None. This button de-selects all staves in the staff list.

Use Finale Staff Set. The plugin operates by copying to the staff set shown in the Staff List to one of Finale's internal staff sets. This menu specifies which of Finale's staff sets to use.

Set View Percentage. If the checkbox is checked, the plugin changes Finale's Scale View percentage to the choice specified in the popup menu. Finale (as of Finale 2014) provides no means for plugins to change the view percentage or even know what it is. The Staff Sets plugin operates by emulating the appropriate menu command, much as a keyboard macro program would. As a result, the user must keep track of which Custom Zoom corresponds to which percentage view.

Save Settings... brings up the Save Settings dialog.

Common Uses of Staff Sets.

Saving a Staff Set as a Saved Setting. This technique effectively expands the number of staff sets to an unlimited number and allows you to name your staff sets. In this mode of operation you may choose to designate a specific Finale Staff Set, say Staff Set 8, as scratch. This leaves your other Finale staff sets free for ad hoc use and unaffected by invocations of Saved Settings. You will likely be able to use the same staff sets across multiple files, provided the files originated from the same template.

Sometimes, a project may "grow" staves as the project progresses. This sometimes happens with divisi string parts or percussion staves. As long as your saved staff sets include all the staves from the lengthiest staff list, you can apply them to project files with fewer staves. To be successful, never remove a staff from a project file, even if the staff is not used. Otherwise, you may end up with the same instrument having different staff numbers in different files.

Because of limitations in how plugins interact with Finale, when you add or delete a saved settings, you can no longer access any saved settings without restarting Finale. For this reason, you will probably find it more effective to set up all your saved staff sets at once.


Modifying an Existing Finale Staff Set. This technique allows you to add staves to or remove staves from one of your current staff sets. Without the plugin you would have to view all staves and re-select all the staves you want, which sometimes is a laborious process. When you invoke the Configuration option directly (rather than from a Saved Setting), the plugin recognizes that you are not using a saved setting. It then checks if you are currently viewing a Finale Staff Set in Scroll View. If so, it pre-populates the Use Finale Staff Set menu with the current staff set number. You can then simply add or remove staves from the list and hit OK. The plugin will replace the current staff set with the new one.


If you have questions, comments, or suggestions about the operation of Staff Sets, please feel free to contact me.