Creating PDFs from Sibelius 7

by Philip Rothman on September 16, 2013 · 10 comments

in Tips

I’ve noticed that one of the most frequently viewed posts on this blog is Creating PDFs from Sibelius by Daniel Spreadbury. It’s with good reason; a PDF file is, more or less, the lingua franca of electronic documents, viewable on practically any system and device. To share your Sibelius scores with the wider electronic world, and to have anyone view and print your score exactly as you intend it to look, PDF files are the way to do it.

I’ve also noticed that the post was written in 2008, when Sibelius 5 was the current version — a lifetime ago in the world of computing (for example, the first iPad was released in 2010)! Creating PDF files is such a common, important task, and since Sibelius 7 offers new and different options than its predecessors, a new blog post on the topic is overdue. So, without any further throat-clearing…

Start off by going to File > Export > PDF. This is the first difference between Sibelius 7 and earlier versions of Sibelius. Sibelius 7 is the first version to include PDF file creation as an export function built into the program, as opposed to using the OS dialog or additional software.

Upon going here, you will see a list of options under Export (if there are no parts in your file, only the first one, Score only, will be available):

export pdf

  • Score only exports only the full score
  • Score and all parts (one file) exports the full score and a single copy of each part into a single PDF file
  • Score and all parts (separate files) exports the full score and a single copy of each part, each as its own separate PDF file
  • All parts only (separate files) exports a single copy of each part, each as its own separate PDF file
  • All parts only (one file) exports a single copy of each part into a single PDF file
  • Selection of parts (separate files) exports a single copy of each part chosen from the list directly to the right of the list of options, each as its own separate PDF file
  • Selection of parts (one file) exports a single copy of each part chosen from the list directly to the right of the list of options into a single PDF file

For the last two options, you can select any combination of parts from the list by click-dragging or by holding down Shift and clicking contiguous part names, or by pressing Command (Ctrl on PC) and clicking on non-contiguous part names.

It is a good idea to strategically make use of Sibelius 7’s Filename feature:


By default Sibelius names the files according to the tokens %f – %p.pdf which evaluate to “[Filename] – [Part name].pdf” or, e.g., “Symphony – Flute 1.pdf”. Sensible as this may first seem, if you were to export all parts as separate files in an orchestral score, you’d wind up with an alphabetized list where the contrabass appears between the clarinets and flutes, among other oddities:

list of parts-1

Better to add the token %n for a total string of %n – %f – %p.pdf which would evaluate to “[Part number] – [Filename] – [Part name].pdf” or, e.g., “01 – Symphony – Flute 1.pdf”. This way your PDF files will remain in score order once exported:

list of parts - 3

Note that if you include the full score in your export, Sibelius will number it “00”. Various other tokens are available for your use, including ones for the score title, the total number of parts, the date and the time. You can, of course, type ordinary text in addition to the tokens.

To finish exporting your PDF files, choose the destination folder using the standard file browser, and click the big Export button.

Some people may still need to create PDF files in the earlier way, for instance, to satisfy a publisher’s requirements for a particular flavor of PDF or to use custom presets. To do this on Mac OS X, go to File > Print and click the “Use OS dialog” button at the very bottom of the screen. This will allow you to create PostScript files that can be distilled using Adobe settings instead of Sibelius’s built-in settings. On Windows, there’s no direct equivalent of the Mac OS Print dialog, but you can choose a PDF printer driver as the printer and click the Printer Properties link/button to access the detailed options.

Sibelius 7’s built-in PDF file creator is a great feature, but one downside is that it is no longer possible to create 2-up PDF files directly from Sibelius. In order to do this with the help of some free software, see this blog post from earlier this year.

One other note: if for some reason you’re not using the most recent update to Sibelius 7 (currently 7.1.3 from September 2012), be sure to update to this point release. A number of improvements related to PDF exporting and printing were made in 7.1.3.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave P-B September 25, 2013 at 6:11 AM

A very good topic to revisit. I rely on Sibelius’s PDF printing almost exclusively, as nearly all my work is received and sent through email/web. Combined with increasing use of tablets, printing to paper is ever-more decreasing.



Trevor January 12, 2014 at 10:18 AM

There is no selection of parts option which I desperately need! Can you help? I ahve SATB and piano! Why not?!?!


Alice August 4, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Thank you thank you thank you! You saved me! alice b.


Michael Olson October 25, 2014 at 1:37 PM

It’s worth noting that on a Mac, there are TWO places marked “File”. One is in the menu bar where you’re used to seeing it with almost every other program, and THE OTHER ONE – the one they’re talking about here – is in the “ribbon”, all the way to the left, highlighted in purple.


Emma April 29, 2015 at 7:11 AM

Thank you so much for this post! Saved me many hours of writing it out by hand! :)


Mehrbod July 8, 2015 at 5:44 PM

Hi guys.
how can i export sibelius scores to PDP
included background Textures?
i tried many times but always i get blank
thanks for helping.


Jim Harrison September 1, 2015 at 11:52 AM

How can I export review marks to PDF?
I’m doing some MIDI-to-score work for a friend and I’d like to include my highlighting in the PDF file as well.


Philip Rothman September 1, 2015 at 12:01 PM

Jim: You must be reading my mind. I’ll be publishing a post on this tomorrow, so stay tuned!


Jim September 13, 2015 at 5:41 PM

Anyone had any issues with PDFs created through the export menu looking fine in preview but coming out in hieroglyphics when printed? Just had a batch of music back from a printing company and its unrecognisable. Seems to be an issue with reprise fonts but they all look fine when printed from The PDFs on my home printer. Any help would be appreciated as this could become a costly mistake if I can’t fix it.


din October 8, 2015 at 10:53 PM

how can i export pdf in sibelius5?


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