ACE Composer Toolkit - Best practices


(updated July 2018)

General introduction:

ACA publishes music under the name American Composers Edition (ACE) and also American Concert Editions (ASCAP).

ACA is a composers’ collective, and though publication is at the heart of our activities, we also promote American music (in particular that of our represented composers), by doing things such as sponsoring or co-sponsoring concerts and recordings, and advocating generally for American music. Please connect your music with ACA activities through the ACA Facebook page and YouTube channel.

We seek to encourage music sales and performances by maintaining an informative, easily navigable, and attractive website (, by responding to enquiries from interested parties quickly and professionally, and by providing our purchasers with materials prepared to high professional standards.

Scores are printed professionally from a Digital collection of PDFs. We can also sell secure PDF downloads on request.

ACA is administered by a board of directors elected by its composers. We have a long and distinguished history in 20th and 21st century American concert music. Our composers/you play a crucial role in preserving and enhancing this organization and its public catalog of music. Your ACE-published music will flourish as the organization flourishes. To this end, we provide the information below, explaining your role in ensuring your (and ACA’s) success.

Details in this document will ensure the best possible success for your ACE-published work. This can be summarized as follows:

  1. Register and Deposit your new pieces (or new editions of older works). Fill out the required online registration request form. Send your materials to ACA as email attachments to [email protected]. ACA completes your BMI registration.
  2. Prepare your scores at a high professional level: clean and readable, proper layout, standard page sizes, adequate margins, standard page numbers, proper title pages, standard front matter.
  3. On the bottom of the first page of music, your notice should be:  ©20XX [Your Name]; Publishing license granted to American Composers Edition (BMI)
  4. Convert your score to a high-quality PDF. Obtain necessary permissions for anything copyrighted by others.
  5. Scores that are in conventional formats such as portrait layout, sizes of letter size, 9 x 12, 10 x 13, or 11 x 14 are most easily priced, printed, and sold. Scores are made into booklets if the number of pages is less than 50. Legal size, landscape, and larger sizes require special size papers and binding that is more costly and thus raises the price for printing and also for mailing. No scores above the size of 11 x 17 should be submitted. We can print on 12 x 15 or 12x 18.


Each ACA composer has a personal webpage on Your address is most likely

You are provided with a login so you can edit your own page. You may instead send changes/updates to ACA ([email protected])

Keep your ACA page listings current!

Be sure ACA has your updated biography, photo, and email address. Please also send detailed information about upcoming performances, recording releases, and YouTube videos featuring your ACE-published music to [email protected] so ACA can help spread the word.

You may create score listings on your ACA personal webpage. Log in and use the “Add a Composition” tab. After saving the data, changes may not appear on the website for a few days so they can be checked for accuracy and general website consistency. You may make and save edits to your page at any time.

Please note that the majority of sales are for RECENTLY composed works and newly engraved editions of older works. You will help yourself and ACA by having ACE to publish your music soon after it is completed. If you have special arrangements with performers for the premiere, we can hold off on listing and/or distribution until a later date.

For composers who have works commercially published elsewhere, ACA has a special section “additional works” on each composer page where these can be listed, if you would like to have ALL of your titles listed in one place online.  Your list of ACE-published works are works that ACA manages as publisher. ACA cannot answer questions from customers about your non-ACA-published works, but you are welcome to list the other publisher contact information.


Details of depositing your score materials are provided below.


Our member composers are responsible for preparing their own scores. To maximize performer interest and score sales:

            • Staff lines, notes, and text need to be absolutely clear, without any blurring, if scanned.

            • All scores must have a balanced frame of white space around the edges of the page. Consider ½” as the minimum white space. Names of instruments, important instructions or page numbers should not be too close to the margin.

            • Performance materials MUST be properly sized and formatted, with staves and notes readable when printed out at the page size you set up. For scores and parts that players must play from the size of the staves is very important.    Major Orchestral Librarians Association (MOLA)

            • Everything (except audio and video) must be submitted in PDF format.

While ACA is willing to accommodate a variety of style choices, we also wish to provide purchasers with clear, clean, and readable materials.

At the bottom center of your first page of music, please enter your copyright notice.
©20XX [Your Name]; Publishing license granted to American Composers Edition (BMI)

ACA is your administrator and distributor. ACA does not own copyright, but in registering works with ACA, you have given ACA limited exclusive and nonexclusive rights to your music. These limited rights should be understood and respected by both ACA and the composer. 


Layout and page numbering

Typically, sores are bound as a booklet and have a cover. When the booklet is opened, the left side is blank and the right side is an internal title page that you provide. Turning the title page gives an information page on the left (may be blank). See “front matter” below for more information.

Page 1 is your title page. The first page of music will be an odd-numbered page, and will appear on the front (right) side of the open booklet. If necessary, insert blank sheets to keep odd numbered pages on the right side.

Parts are bound as booklets, usually without a cover. The closed booklet shows page 1 as the beginning of the music. 

Page turns should be optimized for the performers. If you place page numbers on the outside page corners, your score has a better chance of being printed as you want it. Professional printing technicians might not be musicians and might not read lengthy printing instructions. ACA tries to ensure that PDF files will be printed correctly. You can help by setting up your files carefully.

Page numbers should be easily distinguishable and separate from music notations and measure numbers. 

Use continuous page numbering through all movements. The 2nd movement of a score or a part should not be another page 1.

If you require anything other than what is described above as typical, e.g., specific pages to be on the right or left in a score or part, PLEASE clarify by placing page numbers in the corners where you want them, and insert blank-and-numbered pages as needed to keep page turns intact.

If, for reasons of page turns, a part cover is needed to force the first page of music on to the left side of an open booklet, label the first page of your music as page 2, and we’ll know what to do.

Page size

Provide files following the recommendations below. If we are required to spend more than 30 minutes correcting your score for print production, you will be billed for the time.


Chamber and choral works

Set up chamber works in portrait orientation - scores and parts - 9 x 12 concert size, or 10 x 13. Letter size (8.5 x 11) is acceptable. As possible, materials will be bound as booklets with center staples. This greatly enhances sales to music stores and distributors.

Chamber works should have score and parts at the same size in portrait orientation. This is standard, preferred by end users. It facilitates easier, faster, and less expensive printing costs.  Note:  If your trio score is 15 pages at tabloid (11x17) size, and the parts are in 8.5 x 14 landscape format, you are creating humorously complicated and expensive issues for print production.  If your trio score is 24 pages at 9 x 12 and the parts are also at 9 x 12, you have a professional easy/quick to print set.

Landscape format is possible when necessary (e.g., organ, or piano music with extensive playing inside the piano, and some other instrumental genres).  Landscape layout works best at sizes up to 11 x 14.  Legal and Tabloidd size scores are expensive to print in landscape format, in some cases as much as $1 per page. 

For choral works, the octavo size we use is 7.5 x 11 (11 x 14 folded in half) most common and easy to print. 8.5 x 11 is fine for choral. Choral works should not be legal size or landscape format. 

Solo works

Solo works (other than piano or organ), or works with no clear page turns, are printed double-sided and bound as booklets for industry buyers. For concert performance, accordion foldouts or single sides can be accommodated.


Large ensemble scores may be printed on paper as large as 11 x 17. As possible and readable, smaller is preferred (11 x 14, 10x13, 9x12).  Legal size (8.5 x 14) for large ensembles is not preferred.

General considerations, page length and binding

To be bound as a booklet with center staples, solo and chamber scores must be less than 50 pages and on paper no larger than 11 x 14.

If you use letter size, do not squeeze too much music onto the page.  If difficult to read when printed, please resize and/or re-format.

Anything more than 50 pages will likely be bound with a coil.  If your score exceeds 50 pages but has removable blank space, or has the occasional one measure per line, try to reformat to fit onto fewer pages. This will look more professional and keep costs down.


*** More information in your scores enhances value and interest ***

Scores will be provided with an ACE cover. They should also have a title page. Necessary front material should follow on the next page (which will be printed on the title page’s reverse side). Parts typically have neither title page nor cover (unless special circumstances require them).  

As noted above, at the bottom center of your first page of music should be the copyright notice:

©20XX [Your Name]; Publishing license granted to American Composers Edition (BMI)

Other considerations:

  • Your title page itself should contain the title exactly as it should appear in a formal concert program, including appropriate capitalization and diacritical markings, along with movement titles in their order. You may include page numbers for where movements begin, as in a table of contents.
  • For instrument abbreviations and score order, on your title page and throughout your score, please consult this guide
  • For works with text, include the full printed text in your score as its own page (to be printed on the reverse side of the inside title page). ALWAYS credit the author, poet, or translator, on the text page and title page, even if it is yourself or a well-known public domain source like Shakespeare or the King James Bible. See “3)” below for details on dealing with copyrighted material. Credit information as supplied by copyright owners should always appear on the page with the printed text.
  • If your work requires audio or video, provide specific instructions in your score. As a general rule, try to imagine that someone is looking at your score 50 to 100 years from now, and create instructions and descriptions that are as general and universal as possible.
  • It helps to get your work programmed if you indicate the approximate duration for each of the movements and the total duration of the work. Indicate if individual songs or movements may be performed as stand-alone pieces.
  • Other information to include, on or following the title page as appropriate: details of instrumentation (including number of percussionists and special instrument requirements, if any), information about recordings of the work, whether a conductor is required (if not obvious), and story source material. Any special instructions, deviations from standard notation special equipment, special effects to be used, as well as special staging or dramatic movement, should appear after the title page, prior to the beginning of the music. As necessary, front matter between the title page and the first page of music may require multiple pages. Try to be clear and complete, but concise.


When ACA receives your score for publication, whether a new work or an older work new to ACA, you must fill out this online request form:

You will need to be logged in with your ACA provided credentials in order to access the work registration request online.

If the information is complete, ACA will register your work with BMI.

ACA will add this title to the works list on your webpage on

After the initial listing is public, you may add information to the online listing when you are logged in.

After filling out the online registration form, send all materials (specified below) as attachments to email to [email protected].
No single email may be larger than 10mb.  

For file transfers over 10mb and for backup secure online storage, you will be provided with a secure folder at (, with a login and a personal folder.

You may store up to 10GB on the ACA box system. This is provided to you as an ACA composer in good standing.

You should keep backup files of all of your ACE-published work there. You may upload to through your computer browser, or you may follow their instructions to have a folder on your computer synced to the box folder. You can also get free IOS and Android tablet/phone apps to access your scores at


Every use of a text or translation or other copyrighted material written OR FIRST PUBLISHED since 1924 needs to have permission granted to you by the copyright holder PRIOR to your use of it. Permission must be in writing from copyright owner (e.g., the author, estate, or publisher).

Composers should obtain permission for use, BOTH to perform in public AND to distribute sheet music.

At the time you submit a score to ACA for registration, you are required to provide evidence that rights to any other author's work that appears in your piece have been cleared for public performance and print distribution.

This includes any texts sung or spoken, music tunes embedded, audio samples, etc.  You may request guidelines/template for requesting text clearances ([email protected]). If needed, ACA can direct you to people you may hire for assistance with this.

If you have a recording of the submitted work, please submit a copy as an mp3 file using your folder on We will excerpt a sample to connect to the score listing and archive the recording with all other ACA recordings on file.

Given size and software issues involving multi-media pieces, audio files, MaxMSP files, video, and other formats will need to be stored for performers’ retrieval on types of services with instructions. It’s best if you create the folder and upload all the files in performance-ready size and format exactly as the artist will need them, and then create a permanent URL link we can provide on request. We suggest using since we anticipate keeping these files secure and available there for the longterm future.


Start the file name with your surname, followed by the title. The full legal title of the work is preferred, but you may truncate as needed to keep the file name to a useable length of 12 to 15 characters. Do not use any punctuation or special characters in the file name.  This includes (  or  ) or # or @ or especially any foreign character symbols such as è.  None can be used within the computer file name.  Spell out ordinals such as ThreeSongsforTenorPf, or TwentyFourItalianSongs, etc.  not 24ItalianSongs.

PLEASE BE CONSISTENT with the legal title and your file name.  Don't refer to your piece in correspondence with ACA as "My guitar concerto" or name it guitarconcerto.pdf if the registered title and the wording on your title page is "Concerto No. 1 for Guitar"  or some other name. Give all files connected to one work the same beginning name (lastname_legaltitle_part). Here are examples:


If you have a long list of parts, please put a number on each of them within the file name so they fall into score order. This way we (and you) can easily see when something is missing. 

Howe_6Cl2.pdf    etc etc 

Checklist for submitting:

  1. Fill out online form:

Then, send the items below as email attachments (up to 10mb per email).

EXTRA CREDIT IS GIVEN IF YOU PUT THE TITLE OF THE WORK IN THE SUBJECT LINE OF THE EMAIL. Send to [email protected]. Or, use to transfer files to ACA.

  1. All performing materials as PDF, prepared and with file names according to specifications.
  2. Sound recording of performance as mp3, if available.
  3. Written permissions granted to you for use of other authors’ work (texts, embedded tunes, etc.).


Revisions: If you revise a score, please email it to ACA ([email protected]) and replace it in your folder. Please send revisions all at once, not incrementally. Each revised score will need to be processed into several different production databases.  If there is only one page with revisions, please send just the revised page for replacement in the file.

***Excessive revisions to works that have been printed and sold may incur fees. If we are billed for excessive revisions by  our printer,  the charges will be passed on to you.

Covers when you send out scores on your own: If you send out your own ACE-published scores (i.e., a self-printed perusal score), you may download and print an official ACE cover. They are available in the various size formats and can be found here:

The files are MS Word compatible, and must first be saved (downloaded) to your computer. Then open them and click in the title area (to activate the text boxes with sample information). Replace that with your own information and re-save (with a new file name) to your computer. These can be printed as is, or converted to PDF.

If you choose to send out your scores on your own, the following information is required at the bottom of the first page:

American Composers Edition (BMI)
New York, NY

NB:  ACA does not provide a phone number or office address on scores. Please follow this practice if you print your own scores.



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