JULY 13, 2021

How to Assign Shortcuts to X Y Offsets for Fine Adjustments

Lightning Sibelius: How to Assign Shortcuts to X Y Offsets for Fine Adjustments

Welcome to my new blog series. My name is ilkay Bora Oder, and I'm a composer, orchestrator, and copyist. Some of you may already be familiar with my YouTube tutorial series, Lightning Sibelius, and my working philosophy: to get the best results with a minimum of effort and movements. This requires eliminating repetitive and tiring tasks so you can concentrate on the artistic aspects and problems of your score. My goal is to significantly boost your daily workflow by exploring the finer details of the Sibelius software and show you how you can use them to your advantage. In this first blog, I will explain a very important trick that is especially useful for engravers and contemporary/avant-garde music composers.

How to assign shortcuts to X Y Offset and why it's so important

As a copyist, I've recently been collaborating with pianist and composer, PTX (Pianoturtle X), for a very important project of piano SOLO transcriptions of famous and virtuosic concertos. You can watch the trailer of PTX playing the Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No. 1 (with score) to get an idea of what I'm talking about in case you are not familiar with piano transcriptions.


Some of these scores have never been transcribed for piano solo before. (For example, Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini—coming soon.) The example I'll be using is from this score (see below).


As an engraver, you often get this kind of page from the client that requires a lot of X Offset fine adjustments. Fortunately, Sibelius does the majority of the job for you in a brilliant way by default. But since this is not a very conventional score, you'll find yourself having to do some manual X Offset adjustments for horizontal note spacing. And when this happens, you should be prepared with a shortcut assigned for the X Offset value. Trust me—doing this task via the Inspector is cumbersome and not the best and quickest way to handle this. Bringing your mouse pointer to the inspector, doing your settings and returning to the bar, and repeating this task over and over will take up tons of your time and energy.

Use plugins to speed up your workflow

I have noticed over the years that many users have never used one of the most powerful tools in the Sibelius arsenal: plugins. Most don't understand how to properly use them, and some don't even know they exist or what they are. So what are they? Plugins are the little programs that automate many of your most repetitive and time-consuming tasks, and they can significantly boost your workflow.

Watch this video and I'll show you how to add shortcuts to X Offset in Sibelius:


If it's easier for you to follow text instructions, here they are:

  1. Go to File > Plugins > Install and download Copy Plugin and X Y Offset Plugin. (Both were written by the plugin master Bob Zawalich, so kudos to him.)
  2. After you are finished downloading, run Copy Plugin by writing its name in the Command Search tab. (Find in Ribbon for Sib. 2020.12 and earlier versions.) Then, choose X Y Offset from the list and write to the slots X Right and copy it. Repeat the same task for the X Left by choosing the X Y Offset from the list again. This time write X Left to the slots. After finishing all, restart Sibelius.
  3. Go to File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts > Plugin Tab and find the newly copied plugins from the list and assign a shortcut to them of your choosing. For example, I have used Ctrl + Alt + Shift + → For X Right and Ctrl + Alt + Shift + ← for the X left based on my personalized shortcut organization.
  4. Run the X Right Plugin via its assigned shortcut and enter "0.06" for the X value and choose Hide Unless No Selection below from the list (this setting is very important if you don't want to see the plugin's UI every time you run its shortcut). Repeat the same task for the X Left Plugin except enter "-0.06" for the X Value this time. Violà! We are done.

Now, I'm able to make fine adjustments using only my shortcuts—without having to constantly bring my mouse to the Inspector.

If you want to unleash the full power of the Sibelius and elevate your workflow to a new level of efficiency, you need to be familiar with plugins. The Sibelius 2021.2 update introduced a huge jump in plugin power, and I will show you how deep the rabbit hole goes in my next blog chapters with examples from the real world (did I mention that I'm a big fan of The Matrix?). Thank you for reading my first blog, and stay tuned—I'm just getting started showing you how to speed-up your workflows in Sibelius!

  • Ilkay Bora Oder headshot

    I am a composer, orchestrator, and an informatics geek based in Antalya, Turkey as well as Sulmona, Italy. For more information, please visit my website, ilkayboraoder.com and for boosting your Sibelius workflow to the Lightning Speed, visit “Lightning Sibelius” on my YouTube Channel.

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