Layout Mode

Command Location: Tools Menu

Layout Mode is for changing the dimensions and positions of score objects, such as measures, staves and lyrics.  MidiIllustrator automatically formats the music layout to make good use of screen 'real estate'.  However, if you wish to manage the layout for a particular measure, page or even the entire score, then in this mode you can either tweak the layout to simply tighten up the score a little, or you can make major changes to squeeze as much notation as possible onto a given page.

Layout settings are applied only in Page View (Print Preview) when the score is formatted for the printed page.

Applying a Custom Layout

In Layout Mode, select the measure/staff combination whose dimensions you wish to customize.  You can only customize a single measure/staff combination at a time.  You can change the following attributes of the measure/staff combination:

When a selection is made, the layout frame appears marking the current boundaries of the active area.  If the measure/staff contains any lyrics, then the lyric boundary frame will also appear, indicating the current vertical position of lyrics beneath the staff

With the mouse, click and drag a boundary to move it.  The table shows which boundaries control which layout aspect:

Frame Boundary Direction Change Applies to
Measure/Staff Left / Right boundary Horizontal Measure width (applies to the whole measure, not just the measure width of the active measure/staff)
Top boundary Vertical Height above the staff (overrides MidiIllustrator's automatic vertical spacing of systems on the current page)
Bottom boundary Vertical Height beneath the staff (overrides MidiIllustrator's automatic vertical spacing of systems on the current page)
Lyric Bottom boundary Vertical Vertical position of lyrics beneath the staff

Once a custom size has been applied, a colored arrow will appear, spanning the new custom boundary.

Applying More than one Custom Staff Height to a System

It is possible to apply staff heights to more than one measure/staff unit on a given system.  In this case, the tallest of these custom height settings will be applied to the system as a whole, and shorter values be ignored (though they are not removed automatically).  However, if you apply a new staff height to a given measure/staff unit, then any existing staff heights on that system will be reduced to the new staff height (if they are taller; shorter ones will remain as they are).  In this way, the latest change will be the value used for the score layout).

Vertical Spacing of Systems on the Page

Normally, MidiIllustrator fits as many systems as possible onto a page, and if there is any space left over, it spaces the systems evenly to fill that space so that the page looks more uniform.  However, as soon as you apply a vertical custom layout (staff height) to a measure/staff, systems on that page will no longer be automatically spaced vertically, allowing you to manage the alignment yourself.

Removing Custom Layout (manually and automatically)

Custom layout height/width can be removed using the Layout Menu commands or by double clicking the appropriate custom layout frame with the left mouse button.

MidiIllustrator assumes that when you are modifying the actual notation in the score, this latest change should override any existing custom layout bar widths in the 'active' area.  Custom measure widths are removed automatically if the notation in the measure changes.  As such, custom layout is best applied when composing is more or less complete.

How Custom Layout interacts with MidiIllustrator's Automatic Music Layout

In general, MidiIllustrator automatically formats the music layout as you modify the notation in your score.  When you apply a custom layout to part of the score, MidiIllustrator will try to accommodate the requested settings.  However, MidiIllustrator will still ensure that basic rules for formatting are still applied, such as ensuring that a single system or measure cannot be any wider than the page containing it!

Furthermore, MidiIllustrator will always stretch the last measure in a system to reach the right margin of the page, unless the measure is the last in the score.  As a result, custom width settings for such an 'end of system' measure may not be applied.

Note that empty measures with custom layout height or width cannot be compressed, and are treated as non-identical to other empty measures with different layout settings or no layout settings.

More About this Mode

You can make basic notation changes in Layout Mode, for example correcting score attributes like stave heights. You can change the presentation of the notation, but in this mode like Performance Mode, the raw music is generally protected so that you can 'interact' freely with the score without making unintentional changes.

Read more about the difference between Performance Mode and Layout Mode versus Edit Mode.

The different 'modes' in MidiIllustrator all have an associated 'view' which is optimized for working in that mode.  Read more about Modes and Views here.


What else can you do with MidiIllustrator?