Given a single-measure second ending that fits comfortably at the end of one line or the beginning of the next, what is the convention or best practice (allowing there is one) on the preferred placement?

Related question: Formatting First and Second Repetitions

2 Answers 2


A repeat very often comes at the end of a section. If there's a one measure second ending that would imply that it ends a section, so it would be logical to place it at the end of the system, assuming it fits well. Only if it doesn't fit would it make sense to place it on the next system.

Either of these solutions is fine: enter image description here // enter image description here

There doesn't seem to be a standardized best practice, Elaine Gould says nothing about this, and neither does Clinton Roemer (and he says a lot about layout).

  • Both of these look good to me. The bottom line is they are both logical and have good line breaks based on 4-8 bar phrases. Whether it’s voltas or line breaks I always try and follow the sections or phrases as much as possible when making charts. Jan 3 at 17:50

Adding a personal observation to PiedPiper's answer that there doesn't seem to be a standardized best practice, from piano scores that I have seen, it seems the engraver would prioritizes ease of reading by preserving as much as possible, a consistent note spacing for the measures in a system.

An example that has a single measure for both 1st and 2nd volta is the Henle Verlag edition of Schubert's Impromptu No. 3 (Op. 142 / D. 935) where different variations has different note densities, necessitating between 2 to 3 measures per system:

  • In Variation 1, each measure takes so much space, you can only put 2 measures per system, and both volta brackets happen to be on the same system
  • In Variation 2, same reason as above, but there are 3 measures per system
  • In Variation 3, continuing the 3 measures per system for uniform densities, the 2nd volta falls to the next system since the first 2 measures of the repeat need more space
  • In Variation 4, the 2nd volta falls to the next system since the measure before the 1st volta takes more space
  • In Variation 5 before the coda, every system has 2 measures, it's natural in the A part to insert a break between the 1st and 2nd volta, and in the B part it's natural to keep them in the same system.

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