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MOLA Guidelines

On the cover of the score

  • Title of work
  • Name of composer (and name of arranger, if applicable)
  • Name and address of publisher

Page 1 of the score: Instrumentation

  • Full title of work, printed as it would appear in a formal concert program, including appropriate capitalization and diacritical markings, along with movement titles in their proper order.
  • An approximate duration for each movement and a total duration for the work.
  • List the full instrumentation, identifying any doublings, and the keys of transposing instruments (clarinets, horns, and trumpets).
  • List all percussion instruments and indicate the number of percussionists needed.
  • Describe any special equipment, synthesizer settings, or other technical requirements (also note these details on the cover page of the instrument’s part). Instructions should be as specific and understandable as possible.
  • Include any special instructions for “prepared instruments” or other uncommon instruments. (also note these details on the cover page of the instrument’s part).

Page 2 of the score: Staging instructions (if applicable)

  • Describe any specific staging instructions. Detailed diagrams are helpful to illustrate particularly complex staging.

Page 3 of the score: Musical notation (if applicable)

  • Describe any deviations from standard musical notation.


  • It is mandatory that prior to reproduction the parts be proofread by a qualified proofreader and NOT only by the composer or the copyist who prepared the parts. Please do not expect orchestra librarians to provide additional proofreading services.

The Music

  • Scores should be engraved (computer or traditional).
  • Right-hand pages must be odd-numbered and left-hand pages must be even-numbered in the top right or left corner of the page.
  • At the beginning of the score, list the full name of each instrument to the left of the corresponding system. On subsequent pages, use abbreviations of the instrument names.
  • All instructions for tempi and dynamics should be in a conventional language (Eng, Ital, Ger, or French).
  • All tempo indications should appear above the top staff and above the first violin line on each score page.
  • Each measure (bar) should be numbered, beginning anew with each movement.
  • Placement of measure numbers should be the same throughout the work, i.e. above, below, or on a special line of the grand staff, such as above the first violins.
  • Rehearsal letters should correspond to landmarks in the music and must be used in conjunction with measure numbers.

Instrumental Parts: General

  • Standard music notation practice should be observed and any deviation from the standard should be clearly explained prior to the first page of music.
  • The front of each part should clearly identify the composer, title of the work, and instrument, including doublings and key(s) of transposing instruments where appropriate.
  • Each page of the part must specify the instrument name and piece title on the top center of the page.
  • Parts should be completely computer generated, without any handwritten additions.
  • Right-hand pages must be odd-numbered and left-hand pages must be even-numbered in the top right or left corner of the page.
  • Avoid creating wind parts with multiple parts on a single stave (e.g. Flutes 1 and 2 must be sep. parts).
  • String parts should be created with one part per section. Complicated string divisions should be written on separate staves. Avoid dividing the music for the string section into multiple parts unless necessitated by multiple and continuous division of the voices.

Specific Suggestions

  • Clefs and key signatures must appear at the beginning of each line.
  • Care should be taken with the use of the abbreviations 8va and 8vb, avoiding their use if possible.
  • Parts for transposing instruments must be written in the proper key.
  • If any parts are reproduced with a popular transposition (for example, Horn in E-flat transposed for Horn in F), a part in the original key should also be included with the set.
  • Harp pedaling should be left to the performer.
  • The Timpani part should NOT be included in the percussion part.
  • Percussion parts should include a list of the instruments required.
  • Percussion parts may be in score form or individual instrumental parts. Each has its advantages depending on the requirements of the music. Consult with an experienced orchestral percussionist.
  • Percussion instruments should be notated on the staff from high to low, according to their relative pitch. These positions must be maintained consistently throughout the work. A notation key printed at the beginning of the part may be helpful to the player.

Instrumental Part Readability

  • The most readable staff size for all instruments is 8.5 mm (measured from the bottom to the top of the staff ). Although 8.0 mm is readable for winds, it is less so for strings. Wind players can read music from staves that measure 7.5 mm, but this is very problematic for string players. Anything smaller than 7.0 mm is unacceptable for orchestral parts. Anything larger than 8.5 mm should be avoided, as it is distracting to players.
  • Measure (bar) numbers should appear at the beginning of the first measure of each line. Numbering each measure should be avoided, except in the case of multiple measures rest, where measure number ranges are helpful (e.g., “27–117”).
  • Logical cues are expected during long period of rest, the cues being transposed to the reading key of the instrument. Cues must be audible to the musician reading the part.
  • Tempo and meter changes must shown on all parts, even during periods of extended rest. The use of “Tacet until. . .” is not acceptable.
  • Pay careful attention to the placement of page turns; build blank pages into the parts to facilitate turns.


  • The paper for parts should be of substantial quality to avoid show-through of music from the reverse side, to ensure durability, and to stand up to on-stage wind patterns caused by ventilation systems.
  • The minimum requirement is usually 60 or 70 lb. [100 gsm] offset paper.
  • The page layout should allow comfortable page turns.
  • Fold out pages should be avoided or, if absolutely necessary, used sparingly.
  • Eight or ten-stave paper should be used for any instrument that is subject to multiple ledger lines.
  • Twelve or fourteen stave paper may be used as long as symbols are not crowded and clarity of the notational elements is maintained.

Formatting and Binding

  • Parts should be prepared within an image area of no less than 8 x 11 inches on paper at least 9.5 x 12.5 inches. These minimum requirements leave a 0.75 inch margin surrounding the image area. A common page size among many publishers is 10 x 13 inches. Parts larger than 11 x 14 inches are unwieldy.
  • Parts and scores should be bound so that they lie flat on the stand. Plastic comb or coil binding may be used for scores but not for parts. To bind multiple page parts, affix library tape to the left margin of the part. All pages should be attached to the center spine. Loose pages should be taped or attached to the center margin of the spine. Tape: Vital Presentation Concepts Inc. or 3-M Corp. Micropore surgical tape.
  • Accordion fold parts (single-sided sheets taped side-to-side) are not acceptable.