Per-layout vertical spacing options

Dorico Pro Help

Dorico Pro
Document type

Dorico Pro provides multiple options that you can use to control the default vertical spacing and justification of staves and systems in each layout.

  • You can access per-layout vertical spacing options by opening the Layout Options dialog and clicking Vertical Spacing in the category list.

The Vertical Spacing page contains the following sections and options:

Ideal Gaps

Contains multiple scenarios that allow you to set the gap you want Dorico Pro to allow between staves and systems in the corresponding context, including the default scaling of these gaps in galley view, as Dorico Pro does not automatically avoid collisions between staves and items in galley view. The options are accompanied by diagrams to help you visualize the contexts to which each option applies.

We recommend setting the ideal gaps to the minimum value acceptable to you because Dorico Pro never reduces the gap between staves to less than your set values. Setting smaller values gives Dorico Pro greater flexibility when determining staff spacing, particularly in very full frames, such as reducing the space between staves with no dynamics to allow more space between staves with dynamics. Similarly, we recommend setting vertical spacing options after you have finished inputting notes and items, as this allows you to consider the entire project when setting these options.

Depending on the context, the options are affected by automatic vertical justification in different ways:

  • Staff to staff, Staff group to staff, Staff to staff group, Staff group to staff group, Inter-system gap, and Timecode staff to staff

    These gaps do not apply in frames that are automatically justified.

  • Braced staff to braced staff and Ossia staff to staff

    These gaps always apply, including in frames that are automatically justified, because braced and ossia staves are never justified. This includes extra staves.

  • Divisi staves are vertically justified when they use the Staff to staff gap. When they use the Braced staff to braced staff gap, the staves in each divisi section use only the gap set for braced staves and are not vertically justified.

  • If the staves in a layout are very close together, just decreasing the staff size might be sufficient to produce good results.

  • When calculating the number of systems that can fit in each frame in a layout, Dorico Pro considers the height of staves, the minimum gaps between staves, the maximum distances between very high/low notes and staves, and other items that require vertical space, such as pedal lines and tempo marks. However, this calculation happens before horizontal spacing is finalized, which can result in either more or fewer systems being allocated to frames than ideally fit. In such circumstances, you can use fixed casting off settings and system/frame breaks to change which systems appear in frames.

Minimum Gaps

Contains options for the minimum gaps you want Dorico Pro to allow for items in addition to the staff spacing gaps.

  • Automatically resolve collisions between adjacent staves and systems: When activated, Dorico Pro automatically allows extra space between staves and systems to avoid collisions. When deactivated, Dorico Pro only uses your set gaps for vertical spacing, which produces evenly-spaced staves and systems but with the possibility of collisions between items.

  • Minimum inter-staff gap with content: Allows you to set the extra space you want to allow between staves when items are present.

  • Minimum inter-system gap with content: Allows you to set the extra space you want to allow between systems when items are present.


Minimum gaps do not affect casting off. For example, increasing the Minimum inter-system gap with content value changes the space above/below systems on a page but does not push systems to later pages. Instead, you can change the ideal gaps.

Vertical Justification

Contains options that allow you to control the frame fullness thresholds above which you want staves and/or systems to justify vertically automatically.

  • Justify distance between staves and systems when frame is at least [n]% full: When frames are filled above this threshold, the staves and systems they contain are all automatically vertically justified, meaning they are evenly distributed to fill the height of the frame. Frames filled below this threshold are not automatically justified, instead staves follow your ideal gap settings. This can leave gaps between the bottom staff/system and the bottom of the frame.

  • Justify distance only between systems when frame is at least [n]% full: When frames are filled above this threshold, only the distance between systems in the frame is justified. Staves follow your per-layout ideal gap settings. This helps keep a clear distance between systems on very full pages.

  • Justify staves when frame with single system is above this threshold: When activated, all the staves in a single system taller than the set threshold are vertically justified, which distributes them evenly to fill the height of the frame.

Staff Visibility

Contains options allowing you to control when and which empty staves are hidden in the layout.

  • Hide empty staves: Allows you to control when empty staves are hidden. For example, it is a common practice to show all staves in the first system even if some are empty, but this is not always required.

  • Allow individual staves of multi-staff instruments to be hidden: Allows you to control whether individual empty staves belonging to multi-staff instruments can be hidden independently or all multi-staff instrument staves must always be shown.

  • Players excluded from Hide Empty Staves: Allows you to identify specific players whose staves you always want to show, even if their staff is empty on systems where you have hidden empty staves.