Page formatting

The formatting of pages in Dorico Pro is determined by a number of factors, including the layout’s staff size, page margins, the master page applied to them, any casting off values applied to them, system and frame breaks, and frame padding.

The most important factors that determine how pages are formatted in Dorico Pro are:

Staff size

Staff size refers to the distance between the top and bottom lines of staves. The most appropriate staff size depends on the intended purpose and contents of the layout. In many cases, changing the staff size is the quickest way to produce legible layouts.

Staff spacing

Staff spacing mostly involves the height of staves and the necessary gaps between staves and systems.

Casting off

Casting off, that is, the process of determining a set number of bars per system and systems per page, allows you to fix a regular appearance across entire layouts.

System and frame breaks

System and frame breaks allow you to adjust layouts on a local level, by determining which bars are shown on each system and where music is pushed into the next frame.

Page margins

Page margins determine the dimensions of pages in layouts. Frames cannot exceed the boundaries set by the margins of the layout, which you can change on the Page Setup page in Setup > Layout Options. You can change the size of margins on each edge of each page.

Master pages

All pages in your layouts inherit their layout formats from master pages. Whenever you create or change anything on master pages, this is automatically reflected on the pages that use these master pages. If you want to show information on pages in your project, such as the composer’s name on the first page or the flow title in the running header at the top of all subsequent pages, in most cases it is simplest to do this by editing the relevant master page.


For displaying information such as the composer, librettist, or flow or project titles, we recommend using tokens to refer to fields in the Project Info dialog.

Flow headings

Flow headings show the number and title of each flow immediately above their first system automatically. They have no fixed vertical position and follow the music if it moves. The default flow heading contains tokens to display the flow number and flow title; in a new project, this appears as “1. Flow 1”.

You can hide/show flow headings on a per-layout basis. You can customize flow headings in the flow heading editor, including inputting extra frames, changing the contents of text frames, and editing/moving existing text and graphics frames. Deleting or editing individual flow headings is considered a master page override, which is a type of page format change.

Music frame margins

Music frames have margins at the top and bottom. Music frame margins provide padding to ensure that musical material displayed within the frame remains on the page. For example, if music frames have no padding, the top line on the top staff in the frame is positioned at the top of the frame. Any notes that require ledger lines above the staff might then be positioned off the top of the page. You can change the default music frame margins for each layout and change the padding of individual music frames in Engrave mode using properties in the Properties panel.

Frame constraints

Frame constraints lock the edges of frames to edges of pages. This allows a single master page to be applied to layouts with different paper sizes and remain consistently proportioned.

We recommend familiarizing yourself with these concepts, and how to use them together and in different contexts, in order to produce well-formatted layouts.