How to tape and fold pages for parts: a video tutorial

by Philip Rothman on February 13, 2017 · 14 comments

in Tutorials

On this blog we usually cover the high-tech side of things: software, hardware, apps, accessories, etc. Today, though, here’s a bit about the low-tech part of what we do.

Once the music is (hopefully) beautifully formatted with your favorite scoring program, it comes time to print and assemble the music. When it comes to the parts, the music is often printed in a booklet, double-sided and formatted so that page 1 is the first (right-hand, or recto) page, then you open the booklet up to get 2 pages at a time, with 2 on the left (verso), 3 on the right, and so on, with the whole thing saddle stitched — stapled in the middle along the spine. Most concert music is printed this way.

Music printed as a booklet

But another way of assembling the pages for parts is by printing the music single-sided and taping it together so that it folds like an accordion. Music bound by this method is often used in recording sessions so that three full pages can be viewed at once. Page turns aren’t an issue, making it easier to deal with particularly busy charts and also to quickly pick up from any point in the music. Jazz charts are often printed this way as well, making it easier to follow music with frequent repeats, dal segno markings, and codas.

It’s a bit hard to tell in this photo, but all this music was printed accordion-style (see the video for how to do it)

It’s fairly easy to assemble a booklet; you fold the music in half and staple it, if needed, with a saddle-stapler (a manual stapler is fine for infrequent use, but we have an electric one which I would never want to be without!).

But the question often arises: How does one tape and assemble accordion-style parts?

It’s asked frequently enough that I figured I would demonstrate my technique and the tools I use to achieve the task in this 5-minute video. I’m sure others have different methods; if you do, I encourage you to share them in the comments!

The tools I used are inexpensive and can easily be purchased at your local art supplies store, or you can find them on Amazon — here are the links:

Art Advantage 23-Inch by 26-Inch Artist Sketch Board
Martha Stewart Crafts Bone Folder
Pro Art 3/4-Inch by 60-Yards White Artist Tape

Of course, even after watching the video, if you don’t have a printer that can print large-format paper, and/or just want to leave the task of making your music look great to the professionals, please feel free to get in touch — we’ll be happy to print your music for you.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Allen February 13, 2017 at 10:16 AM

I use Finale but your paper information is helpful. What printer do you recommend for 12×18 paper? Where do you suggest to get paper online? What thickness or pound is best for music? I live in Los Angeles if you know a place out here. I have been sending out for printing but now I want to start doing this in my house. Thanks. Richard Allen.


Bruce Nelson February 13, 2017 at 11:28 AM

I have used 80# Classic Crest Text Baronial Ivory and 70# Domtar Lynx Opaque custom cut at Kelly Paper in LA


Peter Roos February 13, 2017 at 12:11 PM

Cool. Quick question Philip: why would you want to print the first two pages on very large format – why not just print 3 pages on 11″ x 17″, and then tape them together? That would save you the time to cut the first two pages, and save money (those really large printers are a lot more expensive than regular printers).


Philip Rothman February 13, 2017 at 1:52 PM

Hi Peter,

The first two pages are printed on 12×18, so folded they make 9×12. The third page is on 9×12. It’s a lot faster to print and fold on 12×18 than to tape two 9×12 pages together. We print tens, if not hundreds of thousands of pages a year, so the cost of the large-format printer easily pays for itself. If you’re doing this on a home office printer, you would print each page on letter size and tape each one individually.


David Ezell February 13, 2017 at 12:26 PM

I use tabloid size (11 x 17) sheet protectors from Office Depot/Office Max. I put them in regular-size 3-ring binders. That way you can get four pages without a turn. Any more pages than that and you couldn’t see all of the music without moving. To hold the music I use Manhassett stands with StandOuts. After use it’s easy to remove the sheets from the protectors and file them. I know the paper size is not 9 x 12 but it works for me.


odod February 13, 2017 at 8:19 PM

Where to buy that kind of music paper ?
and what kind of printer you are using to print the music sir ?


Teemu February 14, 2017 at 12:17 PM

Can you make a tutorial about extracting parts from one stave e.g. One 2 horn-stave into two parts,


Robert Puff February 14, 2017 at 8:34 PM

Very useful tutorial, Philip! I use a very similar setup for my work.

FWIW, I wanted to add that folding bones come in different sizes to fit different sized hands, so look for dimensions when buying. If you want to try before you buy, you can find folding bones at most art supply stores. Note that you can still find real bleached bone folding bones, if you want to go old school, although the plastic ones work just fine.

For my work, I have a slight variation of one part of the workflow you describe that I’d like to share.

Instead of lifting the paper from the board and using scissors to cut the tape, once the paper tape is secured to the paper, I lay the sharp edge of a single edge razor down across the tape right at the page edge. While keeping pressure against the board, I then just pull the tape roll up and away from the paper, which makes a clean cut which is very exact.

This also allows you to leave the paper against the art board while you cut, which I’ve found to be a fast workflow when taping lots of pages.

Thanks again for the useful tutorial!



Philip Rothman February 14, 2017 at 8:53 PM

Thanks, Robert! Jeremy Levy also mentioned the razor blade approach to me after I posted this video. I’ll have to try it out!


John February 18, 2017 at 2:41 AM

Thank you for this helpful tutorial!
However, I do have one specific question concerning your printing workflow:
Let’s say, you have multiple parts to print, and the amount of pages vary from part the part, i.e. even and odd amount of pages.
How exactly do you manage the paper feed on the printer and make sure that the printer, for example, is using 12×18 paper for pages 1/2 and 3/4, but then 9×12 paper for a single 5th page?
I wouldn’t want to do that manually when I’m printing an orchestra arrangement…
Thanks, John


Liz Finch February 19, 2017 at 11:56 AM

Philip, although you flipped the part over to tape the 3rd page in your video demonstration, you didn’t explain why you did that, rather than tape on the front side of the part. Especially for those who are taping single pages together, it is important to know which side (front or back) of the paper to tape. Tape should always go on the outside fold. So, with single pages, page 1 and 2 are taped together on the front side, while pages 2 and 3 are taped together on the back side. This prevents paper/parts sticking together because of exposed tape. Good subject to bring up!


Philip Rothman February 19, 2017 at 12:15 PM

Hi Liz, you’re right — if you don’t have the luxury of printing on oversize paper like I did, you’ll need to do as you describe.


John Hinchey February 25, 2017 at 10:54 AM

Great video Philip, I used to use the art tape but switched to 3M micropore surgical tape. It’s translucent, very strong, but you can rip it easily across the tape, so no scissors are needed. You and can also write on it with a pencil. The art tape makes the charts very bulky when you have a lot of them in a folder. And I have clients who travel and had to carry their charts with them complained about the bulk. Switching to the the lighter thinner tape made a big difference.


Philip Rothman February 25, 2017 at 11:01 AM

Thanks, John! A couple other colleagues recommended the Micropore tape. I’ve ordered some and it’s arriving today so I’m eager to try it out.


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