How to create tuplets in Sibelius (Part 2)

In this second part, we will refine the techniques learned previously and expand them to include some interesting options. As a quick recap, we learned how to create a tuplet starting from a note or a rest, either by using the Note Input menu or by using the keyboard’s shortcuts.

Introducing the Inspector

It often occurs that we need to write a long run of triplets or other irregular groups. I am sure you will have already witnessed the following result:

This happens because a notational software—I keep it general because no product currently has some sort of AI in place to manage this—cannot know whether you always want to show the numbers or, if you want not to, where exactly you want to hide them.

To our rescue comes the Inspector, that I hope you already know but if you do not, I invite you to open by pressing the keyboard shortcuts Cmd-Shift-I (that’s Ctrl-Shift-I on PC). If you have nothing selected in the score, you will be greeted by a dull view; that is because the Inspector is context-aware, and shows you what can be done for your current selection.

In this case, select a region that contains some tuplets whose numbers you want to hide; the Inspector will suddenly populate with various details. Scroll down to the bottom until you find this:

If you see that the blackhead arrow next to the Notes category is horizontal, just click on it to expand the category.


Under Tuplet: you will find three dropdown menus. The first one has four options: “None,” “Number,” “Ratio,” and “Ratio note.” Choosing the first one will simply hide the number, which is precisely what we want in the example above, as there is no need to repeat what is obvious. The second one is the default, and it only shows the number of note making up the tuplet, in our case 3. The third one will show a ratio between the number of notes composing the tuplet and the number of notes of the same duration that would normally fit in the same space. For example, in the example above, this option would show 3:2 because a triplet is usually made up of 3 notes in the place of 2 of the same value. The last option allows us to be more precise and specify the ratio and the note value, for example 3:2 eight notes. Here is a visual recap.

From left to right we have the result of the different options: "Number," "Ratio," "Ratio note," and "None".
From left to right we have the result of the different options: “Number,” “Ratio,” “Ratio note,” and “None”.


The second relates to the bracket that gets created when the tuplet is part of a larger beaming group or when there is no beam at all, such as in the following example:

In theory this would not be Sibelius’s default behaviour as it is set up to separate the beaming of tuplets from adjacent notes unless you fiddle with the options in the Time Signature dialog. For this tutorial, though, I have connected the first 8th note to the following triplet and the second 8th note to the following quintuplet. Again, there is an option in Engraving Rules > Tuplets that makes that bracket disappear if you want, but this is what most users will encounter, so let’s move on. The third and fourth beat of this bar contain a triplet of quarter notes which will show the bracket because there is no beaming. This bracket should not be hidden for any reason, as it will make the rhythm unclear to read.

Now, perform a passage selection of the first two beats and look at the Inspector: it will show “Auto Bracket”

At this point, expand the dropdown menu and choose “No bracket” to make them disappear, all the while leaving the number there. There is also a third option, “Bracket,” that forces the bracket to be there at all times. This is useful if you want to avoid worrying about changing some defaults and then having to go back to check.

Bracket extension

The last submenu relates to how long should the bracket be. Normally, a tuplet’s bracket extends just a bit beyond the last notes of the group, and this amount can be managed in Engraving Rules. There are some scenarios, though, where you may want to extend the length of the bracket up to just before the next note. This is typical when we have “nested tuplet”, which we will see in another episode, but, starting from the example above, we can expand and contract the bracket by choosing the other available option in the submenu.

Bottom Line

In the next episode, we will look at creating custom tuplets and to how to nest tuplets together.

If you are looking to greatly enhance your Sibelius experience, please take a moment to consider my viewset for Metagrid that I have published back in February. Metagrid is an app for iPad that allows you to control your Mac or PC from your iPad. My viewset is optimised for Mac because that is what I use; it may work on PC, but I have had no way to test it so far.

I hope you found this article helpful, if you did, please like it and share it with your friends and peers. Don’t forget to follow me on this blog and to let me know what you think.

If you are interested in my music engraving services and publications don’t forget to visit my Facebook page and the pages where I publish my scores (Gumroad, SheetMusicPlus, ScoreExchange and on Apple Books).

You can also support me by buying Paul Hudson’s Swift programming books from this Affiliate Link.

Thank you so much for reading!

Until the next one, this is Michele, the Music Designer.

Published by Michele Galvagno

Professional Musical Scores Designer and Engraver Graduated Classical Musician (cello) and Teacher Tech Enthusiast and Apprentice iOS / macOS Developer Grafico di Partiture Musicali Professionista Musicista classico diplomato (violoncello) ed insegnante Appassionato di tecnologia ed apprendista Sviluppatore iOS / macOS

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