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Author Topic: The NinSheetMusic Formatting Guidelines  (Read 570 times)


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The NinSheetMusic Formatting Guidelines
« on: August 29, 2023, 12:42:01 AM »

The Formatting Guidelines

A fancy font here, a C clef there, et voila: The most beautiful sheet you've ever made! Not so fast: Unfortunately, that's not the way things work at NinSheetMusic.
Part of the goal behind the submissions process is to ensure that all sheets are visually consistent with our existing library. To achieve this, we've established a set of formatting guidelines that all arrangements should follow.

Please note:
● These are guidelines and not fixed rules, and may not hold up in every situation.
● If anything is unclear or you have any questions, please reach out to the updating team! We are always happy to help.

For easy adoption of the guidelines, you can download our template files here:
‎‎‎‎⠀Piano Solo‎‎‎‎⠀Piano Four Hands‎‎‎‎⠀Two Pianos

To avoid constant copy+pasting of files, you can save the templates as Finale template files by opening them and calling ‘File/Save As/Template File’. To create a new document, run ‘File/New/Document from Template’ and select the correct template.
Finale Notepad users can find additional template files [here].

Page Setup

"Because I Love You" from EarthBound, arranged by Latios212. [Original Arrangement]

(1) Page Size & Margins
  • Your sheet should either be US Letter (8½in x 11in) or A4 (210mm x 297mm) size.
  • The page sizes are similar enough for either to be printed without much issue. Letter is shorter and wider, A4 taller and thinner.
    Letter is standard in North America, A4 is standard almost everywhere else.
  • We recommend margins on all sides of around ½in (12.7mm), with the left margin being a little wider to accommodate for the curly brace.

(2) Track Title
  • Format: Times New Roman, Size 24, Bold, Center Aligned
  • Just the name of the song in quotation marks, nothing more to it. This goes at the top of the first page.

(3) Game Name
  • Format: Times New Roman, Size 12, Italic, Center Aligned
  • This goes just under the song title, without quotation marks.

(4) Composer
  • Format: Times New Roman, Size 12, Bold, Right Aligned
  • Put this near the top of the sheet like in the picture.
  • You can either write "Composition by ..." as in the picture or "Composed by ..."
  • Be as specific as possible when crediting composers. On places such as you may find individual track credits.
  • Separate multiple composers with commas, with an "&" sign or the word “and” preceding the last one.
  • If your track was composed by one person and then rearranged by another, you can write ‘Arranged/Arrangement by …’ on a new line (using the same text format as the composer).
    The Arranger text (see (5) below) should then say ‘Arranged for Piano by …’.
  • If lyrics are included in your sheet and are not written by the composer(s), the lyricist should be credited as ‘Lyrics by …’. If they are written by the composer, you can write ‘Compositon & Lyrics by …’ if you like.

(5) Arranger
  • Format: Times New Roman, Size 12, Italic, Right Aligned
  • This goes just below the composer text.
  • You can either write "Arrangement by ..." as in the picture or "Arranged by ..." If you used "Composed by," then use "Arranged by" and vice-versa.
  • For new arrangers: This will be your arranger name on-site. If it doesn’t match your forum username, please notify the staff.
  • For existing arrangers: Your arranger name should stay consistent across all your sheets. If a change is absolutely necessary, let the staff know.

(6) Copyright
  • Format: Times New Roman, Size 10, Center Aligned
  • This goes at the bottom of the first page. It's easiest to enter during document setup when you first make the file.
  • Use the format used in the picture - <Publisher> © <Year Published> (Including the spaces, without the <>, just like the example.)
  • If the game was developed by a different entity than it was published by, you may credit them in the following format: <Developer 1>, <Developer 2>, <Publisher> …
  • You must use the © symbol, not (C) or any other substitute.
    The Alt code for "©" is Alt 0169. You can also highlight this one and copy/paste it into the file.
    Windows users have access to a symbols menu by pressing ‘Windows Key+Period’.

(7) URL: Times New Roman, Size 10, Center Aligned
  • Format: Times New Roman, Size 10, Center Aligned
  • Just below the copyright (usually in the same text field), add NSM’s current URL:
    Make sure to include the https and trailing slash.

(8) Text on Second+ Pages

If your arrangement exceeds one page, it is required that the following pages have a mini title and page numbers. These should appear automatically in Finale, but if for some reason there is an issue with them, they should be as follows:
  • (a) Mini-Titles
    • Format: Times New Roman, Size 12, Center Aligned
    • Placed at the top of each additional page.
  • (b) Page Numbers
    • Format: Times New Roman, Size 14
    • Placed at the top of each page
    • Even Numbers are Left Aligned, Odd Numbers Right Aligned
Copyright and site URL should only be present on page 1.

Sheet Contents

Music Fonts
We kindly request you use Finale’s ‘Maestro’ font for all musical glyphs and symbols. This should be set by default, but might need to be changed manually if using/migrating from an older template.

Text Sizes in the Sheet
The following text markings should all have the ‘Fixed size’ property unchecked (and the ones above should have it checked). By leaving this unchecked (default), the text size will automatically be scaled to the size of the music in the sheet, rather than using absolute values.

"Friendship" from Xenoblade Chronicles 2, arranged by Latios212. [Original Arrangement]

(1) Metronome Marking
  • You have to include one of these at the start of the sheet. It must include a BPM value (note value = integer) like in the picture.
    For sheets with a loose tempo, please still give an approximated value (see this example link example).
  • You can also add a musical direction (e.g. Allegro, Rubato) in front of the BPM marking, if you wish. However, the BPM marking must remain present regardless.
  • Swing may be indicated as a musical direction in the tempo marking or separately in the sheet.
  • We recommend using Finale’s Default font sizes, meaning a BPM marking of size 12pt/regular, and a musical direction of size 14pt/bold.

(2) Key Signature
  • Use a key signature to indicate the key of the song.
  • If your track uses modes or other alterations, use the major/minor key signature of the tonic, depending on what fits best. If it’s a little ambiguous what the key is, try to choose the closest match.
  • If possible, avoid using excessive amounts of accidentals (e.g. choosing Db major over C# major). If using more accidentals in the key signature significantly reduces the number of double accidentals in the sheet, using said key signature is encouraged.
  • In most cases, changing key signatures frequently (e.g. every 1-2 measures) is not recommended, as it can be disorienting for the performer.
  • Key changes should be preceded by a double barline (unlike time signatures).

(3) Dynamics
  • Sheets should have at least one opening dynamic marking.
  • Adding more dynamics where suited is encouraged, to reflect dynamic or intensity changes in the source material.
  • Dynamic markings should be placed between the two staves. If the dynamics are different per hand, write each one outside their staff (RH above the staff, LH below).

(4) Articulation
  • Articulation helps give your sheet extra character, and use (where needed) is encouraged.
  • When placing staccatos on the stem side of a note, we prefer it to be centered over the notehead. More info on that here.

(5) Clef changes and 8va markings
  • Use these if the notes tend to go very high or very low and the number of ledger lines impacts readability. (Usually 4 or more ledger lines is a good rule of thumb, but it depends on the situation).
  • 8va markings should have the trailing ‘va’ text, and not just be a number. If you wish, you can use ‘vb’ for markings that lower the notes, but this is not required.
  • If a part uses an 8va marking for an extended period of time, you can hide the marking and write so in text, if you wish (Provide example). Do not use an octave clef in such cases, they are not used in piano sheet music and are not permitted on-site.

(6) Expressions
  • If your sheet uses expressions (cresc., rit./accel., con/senza pedale), the recommended size for them is 12pt/italic
  • Only tempo markings without a BPM indication should be styled as expressions, ones with BPM markings should be styled as directions (see below).

"Zant Battle" from The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, arranged by Bloop. [Original Arrangement]

(7) Directions
  • The size we recommend for directions (tempo directions, D.S./D.C. repeat markings, individual track titles) is 14pt/bold, to distinguish them from other text elements.
  • Directions should be placed to maximize readability, which is usually above the top staff.

(8) Pedal Markings
  • One way of indicating pedal use is to write out complete pedal markings for a particular section (most sheets use the Ped. symbol, followed by a release star, but other ways of notating are also fine).
  • Another option is to use text such as "con pedale" (at the start of the section) and "senza pedale" (at the end of the section). Other text is also allowed.
    If you think a performer might infer the wrong pedaling for a specific place, you can show markings for that spot only while still otherwise using text.
  • All of these options go under the bottom staff. Text usually follows the expression format (12pt/italic).

(9) Performance notes
  • Performance notes give the player information not otherwise deductible from the sheet (such as play styles, complicated repeats, or other trivia)
  • The recommended format is 12pt/regular. The first line should be 12pt/italic/underlined, the title ‘Performance Note:’ (no quotes). Performance notes often have a rectangular frame surrounding them, but this is not required.
  • Performance notes usually go at the top or bottom of the page, but anywhere is fine so long as they are easily visible.

Different Arrangement Types


NinSheetMusic is a resource for piano sheet music, meaning we only accept arrangements that can be performed on piano. As such, we only allow the following instrumentations: Piano Solo, Piano Four Hands (Duets for two people on one piano), and Two Pianos (Duets for two people on two pianos).

(1) Piano Solo
  • The staves you use should be connected with a curly brace at the start of each system. Barlines should also span between all staves.
  • The first system should display the instrument name, Piano, centered between the staves. To accommodate for the instrument name, this system should be indented. All subsequent systems don’t require an indentation, and the abbreviated instrument name (Pno.) should be removed, if present.

(2) Piano Four Hands
  • The staves of each player should be connected with a curly brace, and barlines should span between the staves. The staves of both players should be joined with a barline at the start of each system.
  • For these sheets, the top piano part should have the high notes played by the person on the high end of the piano, and the bottom piano part should have the notes played by the person on the lower end of the piano.
  • As these types of duets are commonly played by student and teacher, it’s okay to make one part (usually the high one) easier than the other.
  • On the first system, the instruments should be labeled Primo (upper piano) and Secondo (lower piano). This system and only this system should be indented.
  • On all subsequent systems, the instruments should be labeled Pri. and Sec.
  • Tempo markings, repeats & jumps should be visible above both pairs of staves.

(3) Two Pianos
  • The staves of each player should be connected with a curly brace, and barlines should span between the staves. The staves of both players should be joined with a barline at the start of each system.
  • For these duets, try to give both parts the melody at some point and aim to have them roughly equal in difficulty if possible (it won’t be in all cases, and that’s okay).
  • On the first system, the instruments should be labeled Piano I (upper piano) and Piano II (lower piano). This system and only this system should be indented.
  • On all subsequent systems, the instruments should be labeled I and II.
  • Measure Numbers, repeats, jumps, and tempo markings should be visible in both sets of staves.

Collections of two or more tracks

For arrangements that contain a collection of fanfares, jingles, and other miscellaneous short themes used in-game, we ask that you format your arrangement in the following manner:
  • Each individual track must have its own time signature, key signature (if applicable), tempo marking, and dynamic indication preceding the track, regardless of length.
    It must also have a solid final bar line at its ending, and must not be connected to the following measure.
    Measure numbers should reset as a new track begins.
    Indenting the first system of each new track is optional, except for the first system.

  • (1) Collections Containing up to 3 Tracks
    • To add titles to the individual tracks in the sheet, you can give each its own header.
      These added headers must include the track title and game title with the standard formatting procedures. Only include additional composer/arranger information if it differs between tracks.
    • Alternatively you can follow the title format of ‘Collections Containing more than 3 Tracks (see below).
    • The on-site title for the sheet can include all of the track titles (each separated with a "/" or “&”), or, if that’s too long, you can use a generic compilation title (such as ‘Victory Themes’ or ‘Miscellaneous Short Themes’).
    • Here is an example of this style of formatting.
  • (2) Collections Containing more than 3 Tracks
    • Make the on-site title generic (such as "Miscellaneous Short Themes" or “Fanfares Collection”)
    • Specify the individual song titles above the top staff, in front of their opening tempo marking.
      The text format can be seen above under ‘Directions’.
    • Here is an example of this style of formatting.

  • (3) Collections Containing Multiple Variations of a Single Song
    • Include the title of each new variation above the top staff, above the tempo marking.
    • The text format can be seen above under ‘Directions’, and additionally should be surrounded by a rectangular frame.

  • (4) Medleys that are Prearranged into a Single Song In-Game (e.g. Credits Themes)
    • These technically do not qualify as ‘medleys’ here, so they can be formatted as would a regular one-track sheet.
    • If you as the arranger would like to add individual track titles above the top staff, you are free to do so.
    • The text format can be seen above under ‘Directions’, and additionally should be surrounded by a rectangular frame.
    • Here is an example of this style of formatting.

« Last Edit: September 07, 2023, 12:18:37 PM by XiaoMigros »
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