Creating Elision Slurs in Finale

In the process of note-setting Spanish hymns using the notation software, Finale 2006, I discovered just how tedious it is create elision slurs. (Elision slurs are those curvy lines used in many languages to join two syllables under one note; See picture at bottom of page).

The method described in the official documentation is nothing but a sloppy hack. Until Finale cleans up their act, I document an alternative procedure that should save you time and tediousness.

Finale's official method

Finale offers the following instructions for creating elision slurs ("Chapter 32: Lyrics Tool" § "Elisions" of the documentation). As you will see this is quite cumbersome if you have more than two or three to add throughout your document.

  1. Click the Lyrics Tool. The Lyrics Menu appears.
  2. From the Lyrics Menu, choose Edit Lyrics. The Edit Text window appears. Type the lyrics in the usual way, up to the elision.
  3. Type the first syllable. Without adding a space, type a capital I, then the second syllable.
  4. Drag to select the I. From the Text Menu, choose Font. Choose EngraverFontSet then click OK. Complete the remaining lyrics.
  5. Click OK. When you enter these lyrics using the Control-Click Assignment method (see LYRICS), Finale distributes the syllables you just created to the corresponding notes of the melody, but treats the elision as a single syllable. A slur will appear between the two syllables.

My method

  1. Click the Lyrics Tool. Begin typing the lyrics in your usual way.
  2. Each time you want an elision slur use a substitute character, instead, such as "=" or "^". It is important that your substitution character is not one that you will use elsewhere in the document.
  3. From the Edit Menu, choose Text Search and Replace.
  4. Under "Search for" enter your substitution character. In the picture below I used the equals sign ("=") as my substitution character
  5. Under "Replace with" type a capital I and mark the check box next to it. Click Use Style and choose EngraverFontSet as your font then click OK.
    Text Search and Replace dialogue box
  6. Click Replace all. Your document will now be correctly formatted with elision slurs.
    Elision slurs in page view

If you are familiar with Finale Script (a plug-in included with Finale for creating macros), you may prefer to use the following code instead of setting up the search and replace dialog boxes each time.

//Lines beginning with two slashes are for humans to read (the computer ignores them)
//The following line of code will replace the placeholder character ("=") with the elision character

search "=" replace "I" [EngraverFontSet], in lyrics

//To use the caret symbol ("^") or the non-breaking space (" ") as your placeholder,
// delete the two slashes at the beginning of the appropriate line below

//search "^^" replace "I" [EngraverFontSet], in lyrics
//search " " replace "I"[EngraverFontSet], in lyrics


My method offers two advantages over the method suggested by Finale. Firstly, it allows you the choice of entering lyrics using the Edit Lyrics box and click assignment or directly into the score. Secondly, you need not change the font, individually, for each elision character, the process is automated for you.

For a while, I reverted to using white-space (Windows: alt+0160; Mac: alt+space) to get more than more one syllable under the same note. Now, I can add the classier elision slur for the same amount of effort. And so can you.

Go and show all your friends your new-found elision-slur skills!

Further notes and commentary

It should be noted that the Finale's choice to use a character rather than a proper slur, produces a different (and inferior) appearance. Compare the following:

Traditional elision slur (using slur from the "Smart Shape" tool)
Traditional elision slur

Finale's standard elision slur (using character from the "EngraverFontSet")
Finale's 'EngraverFontSet' elision slur

Finale's "EngraverFontSet" elision slur is inferior in two respects:

  1. It lacks the weight (thickness) of the traditional slur
  2. It is limited to its character space and cannot extend underneath the characters on either side.

After printing you may find Finale's elision slurs more visually confusing than helpful, especially when the slur occurs after a comma (see image above). You may chose to set the elision character at a larger font size, to address its lack of weight. Or you may revert, after all, to the trusty non-breaking space mentioned in the previous section (Windows: alt+0160; Mac: alt+space).

David Bolton, updated 6 July 2006.