I'm trying to typeset a larger piece than I normally do. It has 44 instruments, which I've condensed into 35 staves using a lot of \partCombine.

I've tried to put this onto A3 paper:

$(set-default-paper-size "a3") 

And I've tried to remove empty staves where possible with:

\layout {
  \context {

The first page, which shows all staves (of which most are empty) has some issues with overlapping:

Drawing systems...
warning: compressing over-full page by 69.7 staff-spaces
warning: page 1 has been compressed

Busy pages get much worse to the point where I can't tell the difference between a tenor and alto clef.

warning: compressing over-full page by 123.7 staff-spaces
warning: page 18 has been compressed

enter image description here

If I go to A2 paper, things get so much better, but there are still a few over-full pages with minor collisions.

enter image description here

A1 resolves all collisions, but the printing cost is going to be incredible, and turning half-square-meter pages during a performance is going to look a little silly.

I notice that a single note is the same size on all paper sizes. Is there a way for me to globally scale everything down (staves, text, note heads) so I can use A3? If not, is there a better solution?

  • Obviously setting the staff size is the correct approach, but creating A1 or A2 output would not be a major issue: not only printing by adapting to a given page size will work, but, in case you use PDF (or PostScript based printing), scaling to a desired page size is immediate and always consistent, and can be achieved with simple command line tools like ghostscript. Commented Jun 16 at 13:26

1 Answer 1


Set the staff size of the score by doing

#(set-global-staff-size the-staff-size)

where the-staff-size is the height of one standard staff in pt (default is 20pt). See the manual for details:


  • Perfect! #(set-global-staff-size 12) was the largest I could manage without compressed pages.
    – Stewart
    Commented Jun 15 at 10:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.