scribus 2
Published : 2013-10-12
License : None
Scribus is a program for professional page layout, for creating PDF
(Portable Document Format) files. It is free and distributed under the
GNU GPL license. T his license indicates you may obtain it freely, to use,
distribute, copy, as well as study and even modify the program's
source code. T here are versions of Scribus available for Windows, Mac
OS X, Linux, and less common operating systems like OS/2. You will
find the instructions on installation in the Appendix of this book.
With Scribus you might create brochures, booklets, books, magazines,
and any type of document which you plan to print or make available
electronically, including presentations. It has a feature-rich interface and
the functionality to allow you to create professional quality print
output. Features include PostScript color separations, support for
CMYK and spot colors, ICC profiles, and printer marks.
Scribus files have their own native format, with the extension .sla,
easily editable since it is in plain text. Generally speaking, you would
not be dealing with .sla files, but rather exporting your work as a PDF
(extension .pdf), which is standardized, reliable, widely used and
recognized, and is accepted by commercial printers and publishers.
Note: Scribus is designed for the task of creating page layout, and
is excellent in this area, but if what you are primarily looking for is
something for retouching and editing photographs, or perhaps making
vector drawings, you are advised to select other Free and Open
Source programs, such as Gimp ( for the former
task, and Inkscape ( for the latter.
Scribus is being develop by a community of developers who for the
most part volunteer their time and effort, and who have interests in
commercial printing, graphic design, or information technology. Even
though Scribus can certainly use more help with programming, there
are many ways that you can become a participant in its development
and improvement, by reporting bugs, submitting feature requests or
suggesting other enhancements, or perhaps just staying in touch with
this active community.
T he first stable version of Scribus (1.0), dates back to 2003. T his
manual covers versions in the 1.4.x series, officially released in early
2012. Scribus is at this point a mature and reliable program – as you
will see from the examples of usage in a subsequent chapter. Over the
years since its inception, publishers and designers have been able to
confidently trust its quality. Like Scribus itself, this manual is both
freely available and Free. You will find the specifics regarding this in the
chapter About this book.
Scribus has three major strengths. T hese are creation, organization,
and production, and in this book you will find sections on each of
these. A particular great feature of Scribus is its flexibilty with regard
to creation. From a design perspective, this is clearly a huge advantage,
since in a short amount of time, one can experiment with a large
variety of graphical and typographic options. Fonts, colors, shading,
transparency, various visual effects, typographic parameters, position
and rotation of the elements – all of these options in Scribus strive to
be both easily accessible and predominantly intuitive. Once your layout
is getting closer to finalization and thus becomes more "static" or
fixed, you are ready to make use of the organizational capabilities of
the program.
T he second of Scribus's strengths, organization, offers the user a
panoply of tools and functions, to save time for progressing to the
next step, production. T emplates, styles, the Scrapbook, Master Pages,
and the scripting plugin allow for automation of repetitive tasks during
production, or in any case optimization of the results. First, you should
take the time to make some preparations, by setting up various
parameters within which you will work. When you have taken this time
to do this, the process of creation is greatly simplified, and you end up
with a more coherent document – by coherent, we mean one with
consistent styles and placement of items from page to page. Rather
than recreating each object manually, you make better use of your
computer to precisely do repetitive tasks, avoiding the errors which
come from repetitive, tiring work.
T he only thing that remains then is production, the final assembly and
arrangement of your project, where you use these various tools and
your material for your document. Quite easily you now can insert
pages, focus on text formatting and text flow from page to page,
import your images, as you concentrate on making a pleasing, sensible
layout. T hanks to the Properties palette, you have an array of settings
and tools at your disposal, where you can position layout elements at
the precision of 0.001 millimeter, and just as precisely define the
content of the elements. Lastly, after exporting your document to PDF,
you send your document to your printer, or alternatively make an
interactive (or noninteractive) PDF for posting on the web.
In this book, we do not expect you to have previous experience with
layout or computer graphics in general. T o be sure, practical
experience in visual arts (photography, drawing, and so on), or with
commercial printing will undoubtedly help you to make beautiful things
as well as understand various technical issues, but nonetheless all that
is not necessary in order to learn to use Scribus.
However, in order to best make use of this manual and allow for the
greatest ease of working, use a mouse with at least two buttons and a
scrollwheel (avoid using a trackpad such as many laptops have), and a
good, comfortable keyboard. T his will allow you to work with one hand
on the mouse and the other on the keyboard. T his combination will
frequently allow for the greatest precision as you work.
Beyond this, you may benefit from learning some keyboard shortcuts.
T his manual will only rarely refer to shortcuts, but primarily direct your
sttention to various menus. Yet, if you will pay close attention to
various menu items you will see notations about keyboard shortcuts
for various tasks, to the right of the command name. Using at least
some of these can easily speed up your work.
Otherwise, you should have a thorough understanding of the basic
usage of your mouse and keyboard for typical typing tasks, navigating
on the internet, and handling directories and files.
For whatever computer operating system you are using (Windows, OS
X, Linux, and so on), be sure that you understand the following
Left button click (selects an item from a menu);
Right button click (typically brings up some sort of context
Middle button click (or pressing the mousewheel, or both right
and left buttons simultaneously);
Click-drag (holding down a button in order to move an object on
the page, then releasing, for example);
Click-drag (making an imaginary box around a group of objects
for example);
Moving windows, dialogs, or frames on the display;
Mouse and keyboard:
Usage of key combinations (Ctrl, Alt, Shift, ...) along with the
Navigating from one menu to another;
File management: (to be covered in the chapter File Organization)
Opening, saving, and moving files on your computer
Create and organize directories, subdirectories, and files in a
useful and sensible manner
Knowing where your files are saved (understanding paths for files
and directories)
Knowing how to use hypertext links on the internet
If this list looks a bit frightening, don't worry – you probably know
these operations with some other terminology. In case you have some
doubts, a bit of research on the internet, or consulting some basic
book on computer usage will certainly clarify these concepts, and you
likely have family or friends who can show you these various
operations. Otherwise, at some point you will simply need to jump in to
begin your learning process – with practice will come greater ease in
using any program.
In this section we are going to take you through a short guided tour of
Scribus. In seven steps you learn how to create a tri-fold brochure.
T he first step takes place away from your computer – in a sense,
since we are going to end up most often with a result on paper, we will
begin by working with paper. T o sketch your brochure, begin with a
sheet of white office paper (A4 or US Letter), and fold it in thirds, so
that it folds together as shown. Although in your actual brochure you
might wish the inside flap to be slightly more narrow than the left
front flap, so that it completely covers the inside flap when folded
together, for this demonstration we are not going to bother with this
precise detail.
Sketch some picture on the front flap, then check the result.
Some comments:
At this early stage, feel free to make various drafts of your
work, so that you can get the appearance of the brochure as
you would like.
Work with a pencil, paper, and eraser – this is a sketch, not a
piece of art. At this point you're mainly interesting in working
If you don't like what you've done at all, throw it away and start
Once you are satisfied with how the brochure works as a physical,
folding object, you can begin to consider how you want to distribute
the content on the various spaces on the flaps, front and back.
In general, you will probably want to use the three internal spaces for
your primary content, so that the layout of these will be a sequential
succession, left to right.
For the three other pages/flaps (those on the outside of the folded
brochure), each has its own considerations regarding its content:
T he front flap (which when unfolded will be the right-most panel
of the page) will contain a large image, a title, and very brief
indication of the brochure's content.
T he middle panel will be the back of the folded brochure – we
will use this for contact information.
T he left panel is the one which is first seen as the brochure is
opened – it will contain further information on the content,
perhaps some sort of listing of the contents.
In the images here below you can see how we have demarcated boxes
or frames with some indication of how text and images are arranged
in the brochure panels:
You can see that we have simply drawn lines to indicate the text
in the frames. You might alternatively write some notes which
say something about the content of various frames.
Image frames are noted by drawing a cross (so that we know
this is an image frame and not text), or you might place a simple
sketch to denote a particular content.
For this guided tour of Scribus we are proposing to create a brochure
about Johannes Gutenberg, in relationship to his inventions regarding
the printing press. We will be using images and text from the Wikipedia
webpage on Gutenberg, which may be used under the Creative
Commons licensing of their site.
When you start up Scribus, it presents you with a dialog for creating a
new document. In case you may have closed this dialog, you can bring
it up again with the menu File > New.
T he document you are going to create will have the following
T he type of display is Single Page.
T he size is A4.
Orientation is Landscape.
Make sure the units are millimeters, since the default may be
Create 2 pages, for each side of our A4 paper.
Choose margins of 1cm (10mm) to make sure we remain within
the boundaries of where our printer can physically print on the
Other parameters should remain at default settings.
Click on OK to finally create this document.
Here you see, in a scaled down view, how your document appears in
the main window:
Now is the time to save your work. Create a directory
Scribus_Gutenberg inside your Documents directory, then give your file a
suitable name.
You will be using guides to assist with the alignment of the content
according to the folds of your brochure. In the menu, select Page >
Manage Guides.
Using the middle tab (Column/Row) you can create two vertical guides,
with a space between them (Gap) of 2 cm. T his value is double that of
the margins, so that the content will be balanced in the various flaps.
Further, you want to define these guides with respect to the margins,
not the page.
Finally, click Apply to All Pages and close the Guide Manager.
If you do not see the guides, go to the menu and select View > Show
In Scribus, you don't write directly on the page – first you create
frames which will then contain the text. In general, most graphical
elements are contained in frames. With these we can freely move all of
our various elements around the pages.
Go to the first page of your document. If necessary, use the slider at
the bottom to position the cover flap in your workspace. You can also
zoom your view by holding down Ctrl and running the mousewheel up
and down while the mouse arrow is over the zoom indicator – quite
easily done with this tool!
You can also move your page up and down, left and right, by holding
down the middle button (or wheel), then dragging the mouse in the
appropriate direction.
Activate the text frame tool by clicking Insert > Insert Text Frame from
the menu, or from the icon (which is the one just to the right of the
white arrow icon on the toolbar, then make your text frame on the
page with a click-drag-release action.
You can resize your frame by click-dragging the small red square at
the lower right corner – resize it so that it can contain two lines of
text: Johannes Gutenberg.
Notice that after you have created your frame, Scribus automatically
switches to Item Selection mode – the icon with the white arrow is
selected in the toolbar – which allows you to select and move objects.
If you wish to switch from some other tool in the toolbar, either click
the Item Selection icon or press Esc.
Double-click inside the frame, and the various adjustment squares
disappear, so that now you can type in Gutenberg's name (you are
now in Edit Contents mode).
But your text is quite small isn't it? T o change the size select all the
text (if you are still in Edit Contents mode, from the menu select Edit >
Select All), open the Properties palette (Window > Properties), select the
T ext tab, so that you can try various fonts and font characteristics,
including the size of the characters (glyphs).
If the lines are too close together, adjust the linespacing. In general, a
minimum spacing of 20% greater than font size is advisable.
You can exit Edit Contents mode by clicking on the canvas outside the
frame or by pressing Esc, and of course you can go back to Edit
Contents by double-clicking inside the frame.
T he next step will be to place an image of Gutenberg's statue on the
cover. Download this image from Wikimedia commons:à_Strasbourg.jpg
Make a directory images inside your directory Scribus_Gutenberg and
download the largest image (full resolution) into the images directory.
Activate the image frame tool from the menu (Insert > Insert Image
Frame) or click the Insert Image Frame icon from the toolbar, and then
with a click-drag motion create an image frame on the cover of our
Make sure you have selected the image frame, then load the photo of
the statue (which you should find in your directory Images inside your
working directory for this project) by using File > Import > Get Image.
Most likely, your image appears all white – don't panic, this is the
background of this image, and you're only seeing a small part of it!
Bring up the Properties palette (Windows > Properties), select the
Image tab, and select the options Scale To Frame Size and Proportional.
By default, Scribus will import images according to their resolution as
noted in the file. Since there isn't yet any information about the
resolution you would like to use, Scribus simply loads the image at its
maximum size.
A quicker way to carry out this operation is to right-click on the image
frame and select Adjust Image to Frame from the context menu.
Next, adjust the image frame by right-clicking, then choosing Adjust
Frame to Image, then move the frame so that it lines up with the left
edge of the leaf:
With a click-drag operation on the small red square in the right lower
corner of the frame, you can now resize the frame so that it fills the
column created by the guide to the left and margin to the right.
As you will learn in this manual, Scribus is often not the best tool for
composing text. In addition, much if not most of the time, you may be
importing text written by others, or reusing text you have written for
some other context.
T o simulate this situation, we will use a browser to go to the
Wikipedia page about
Gutenberg – – and
copy the section Early Years, then open a text editor, create a new file,
and paste the text from Wikipedia. Save the file in a new directory
Text inside your working directory.
Create a text frame in the Inside flap, being sure the fill the space to
the margins and to the guide. Select the frame, then from the menu,
File > Import > Get Text to import the text you just saved in your file.
Use the instructions in the above section Write some text to adjust
the size of the title in this text frame.
On the second page of your document, you are going to add some
text which links across the three panels.
Now let's apply a little trick – after you activate the text frame tool
(Insert > Insert Text Frame), hold down Shift while you click inside the
space for Content 1 – what you have done is to create a text frame
which fills the space delimited by the margins and the guide. Repeat
this for the other two panels on the second page. If you have trouble
with this, you can simply create a text frame and enlarge to the
desired space – in this case, setting Page > Snap to Guides can assist
you in filling the space to its margins.
Now you have set up the layout, but you have no text. For our
example we will use Sample T ext – select the frame in the first panel,
then Insert > Sample Text, and choose Standard Lorem Ispum.
If you look in the lower right hand corner of the text frame you see a
small red box with a cross, which indicates that the actual text is
overflowing the frame. Make sure the first frame is selected, then click
Item > Link Text Frames, then click the second frame. Now select the
second frame, click Item > Link Text Frames, then click the third frame.
Don't forget to save your work!
Now that you've finished this little project, let's go over the main
toolbar icons which you are likely to use in the composition of your
17 .
Selection tool
Insert T ext Frame
Insert Image Frame
Insert Render Frame
Insert T able
Insert Shape
Insert Polygon
Insert Line
Insert Bezier Curve
Insert Freehand Line
Rotate Item
Edit Contents Mode
Story Editor
Link T ext Frames
Unlink T ext Frames
Copy Properties
Color Picker
You have created your first layout. Certainly not perfect, but a good
When you have actually finished a layout, you would be exporting to
PDF for printing or distribution, but at this stage this is a bit complex.
As you continue through the manual, you will learn this and other
various tasks to use Scribus to its full capabilities.
T his chapter will show you some examples of works done with Scribus
in various artistic and professional contexts.
Le Tigre is an independent magazine free of advertising, founded in
2006, distributed on newsstands and in bookstores. Various journalists,
photographers, designers, writers, and academics are involved in Le
Le Tigre is distinguished by its eclecticism, where you might read long
essays, geopolitical articles, cartoons, photograph portfolios, and
criticism, among other topics.
It was the first newspaper in France designed solely with free software.
For two months in 2009, Marcus Holland-Moritz travelled in New
Zealand. With the large number of photographs he took, he created
this book, including a narrative about his experiences.
T his book was published under Creative Commons BY-SA-ND license.
For more information, visit the site: .
Villes en Eaux Troubles is a French documentary film by Yves Entenich.
T he cover of the jacket was designed using Inkscape, then imported
into Scribus. Using microtypographic approaches, the spacing and
kerning were carefully adjusted for a pleasing typographical color. Here
we also see the cut marks at the corners.
Conception: T hibaut Hofer – Creative Commons BY-SA
A textbook for a 6th level Physics and Chemistry class, laid out by Dan
Bourgami Magaouata, and published by Editions du Sahel in Niger.
An introductory calculus book for bilingual schools in Dioula language
used in Burkina Faso, formatted and published by Boureima Kinda
OSEO Publisher / Solidar Switzerland. By using a single file with multiple
layers, multiple versions have been possible in nine African languages,
including Mossi, Dyula, Fulfulde, Lyélé, Gourmanchéma, Nuni, Dagara,
Baraka, and Lebiri.
T he Wikipedia Bookshelf collects and creates informative material
about Wikipedia and projects, that serves to introduce new
contributors to Wikipedia and other projects.
Wikimedia encourages the use of Scribus for creating this material and
the most recent editions were indeed created this way.
OSP is a collective of designers using only free software. Closely linked
to the founding of Media Arts Brussels Constant, they test the
possibilities and realities of the practice of design, illustration,
cartography and typography using a range of free tools, including
A brochure to describe training from ActivDesign association, the
FormationLibre network of trainers.
4 pages in full color, printed on heavy coated paper. Design and layout
by Cédric Gémy.
T his introductory guide to beekeeping is published by the association
IT SAP-Institu de l'abeille, which provide all necessary legal, economic,
and practical information for those wishing to become beekeepers.
Graphic and design by Cédric Gémy, 2011.
My.monkey comes from the My Monkey Art and Graphic Design Gallery
in Nancy, France. On the disk is a combination of artwork and music.
T he cover is based on the template of an actual disk. T he text was
placed with Attach T ext to Path on a spiral which was created in
Inkscape, then imported to Scribus.
Design: my.monkey, Creative Commons BY-SA
Sentinel Guide is published by l'association des Eaux et Rivières de
Bretagne, to raise awareness of their efforts in promoting respect for
the aquatic environment and provide information on corrections in
case of problems. Booklet, 52 pages, two-color printing, and a PDF
form on the web. Design and graphic design by Cédric Gémy, 2011.
A poster produced by the foundation for the Makaranta Prize for
bilingual schools, "Encouraging reading in French and the national
language", Niger.
A leaflet in three parts, folded to letter size, containing descriptions,
dates and locations proposed for this event in Gap, France in 2009.
Scribus was used for the layout of the flyer, with assistance from
Gimp for the cover illustration.
Under the direction of Camille Bissuel (yagraph), CC-BY-SA
As of early 2012, this book of one hundred pages on building yurts was
still in progress. T he project was begun in 2008 by Anne Goldenberg, a
motivated novice, who wanted to take information from a website
(under a free licence) and publish a book on construction of a yurt. It
has been a slow project, perhaps in part related to not having a book
about Scribus.
She had hoped for publication in 2012, under CC-BY-SA.
T his book concerns the software program Scribus. T here were a
number of objectives which the authors set for themselves:
T o allow a quick overview of the program for both novices and
those experienced with layout who professionally make use of
PDF (Portable Document Format).
T o present a sensible approach to the various features of a PDF,
so that a proper workflow is utilized, with a rapid, flexible
creativity, and yet which assures a professional final result. T his
manual approaches the task in a progressive way, so the reader
is encouraged to follow the sequence of the sections.
T o permit French-speaking users (see below) to have access to a
manual in their native language. T his facilitates comprehension of
professional concepts which at times are complex, as part of the
development of a community of French-speaking users of
T o offer a documentation which is not only immediately
available, but due to its location in a wiki environment, allows for
its own progressive development as needed.
T he bulk of this work of 200 pages was accomplished in a Booksprint
lasting 5 days, which occurred during a meeting in Strasbourg on July 610, 2011, thanks to the sponsorship of l'Organisation internationale de la
Francophonie (
T his comes about from the popularized experiments of the Floss
Manuals Foundation as part of a framework of creating multilingual
manuals on free software and other free materials, where the
methodology of the Booksprint results in the creation of high-quality
books in a very short time. Floss Manuals Francophone is an
organization stemming from the 1901 Act, whose objective is the
organization and facilitation of writing in or translation of
documentation to the French language.
A group of six co-authors (trainers, designers, developers, and
printers), coming from North America, Europe, and Africa worked
together in order to represent the various kinds of French-speaking
T he co-authors at the Booksprint were:
Camille Bissuel (France)
Magaouata Dan Bourgami (Niger)
Louis Desjardins (Quebec, Canada)
Cédric Gémy (France)
T hibaut Hofer (France)
Alessandro Rimoldi (Switzerland)
In addition, there were two facilitators:
Elisa de Castro Guerra (France)
Anne Goldenberg (Quebec, Canada/France)
Collaboratively written, this book on beginning to use Scribus derives
its inspiration from the values of freedom. It is available on the Floss
Manuals site in a variety of formats: printed book, web pages, PDF and
ePub, this last one permitting the easy review on an eReader or other
portable electronic display. Published under the dual licensing of GPLv2
and Creative Commons-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA 3.0), this manual may be
read and copied freely. Otherwise, the content of the electronic
version is expected to evolve as the software advances. T o view the
most recent version, you are encouraged to regularly visit the
Francophone section of Floss Manuals
Please do not hesitate to help improve this manual by making your
comments to us in the francophone list at Floss Manuals. If you have
decent writing/editing skills and are knowledgeable about Scribus, we
encourage you to register on the site so that you might suggest new
chapters or edit existing material. You will find at the end of this work
a list of those who have contributed to this work up to its current
You are reading the version revised and enhanced as of December 1,
About this translation
T he main goal of this English translation was to try to capture the
flavor and spirit of the original but at the same time try to write as if
it might have been originally written in English.
It's also understood that this translation from the original French may
contain some alterations, corrections, or enhancements to try to
improve the comprehension and accuracy of the material.
Gregory Pittman (US), 2013
You may be tempted at this point to simply begin by starting your
layout – you have your photos and text, and above all, you have
Scribus for making your layout. Why not just dive in and begin? T he
reason is that in order to get the best results (and waste less time in
the long run) you want to consider the entire project, its workflow
leading to the PDF creation, and even the printing.
T here are a number of technical settings and decisions at the
beginning which will greatly affect the success of your project. Having
to undo and then redo is wasteful of your time and effort, and in
some cases difficult. For example, if you plan on printing the final
product on your local printer (the one connected to your computer),
this presents limitations on paper size, and secondarily such issues as
bleed, binding widths, and the sort of paper you might choose.
In case you see some terms in this section which you don't understand,
these will be explained later, and there is a glossary at the end.
Of course, we're not talking about that piece of machinery attached to
your computer, but here we mean the person at the print shop where
you may have your PDF printed. Although many will think about this
only after they have completed their project and created the PDF, be
forewarned that you may only find at that time that some important
choices about color, the format, or the choice of paper could cause
you to go back and make some essential alterations. Consider your
printer a resource on the physical creation of your work.
Just as we did in the chapter Hands on, make a simple physical model
of your project. By folding the paper as in your final brochure you can
easily determine the spaces you have to work with and how they
interact with each other. Notice how we used the guides to help us
define the spaces available.
If you are making some sort of book, the type of binding is
determined by the number of pages. A large book will have to have
some type of square backed binding.
Even if you are solely responsible for content and layout, factor in the
printing process time as you look ahead to your deadline. For a short
run (small number of copies), a digital printing process is probably a
good choice, but for a large run, you might be more interested in
offset printing. In that case, there is more work involved in the prepress work, as well as setting up the machine and scheduling when it
will be printed.
Finally, some other issues are important as well, such as the type and
availability of the paper you wish to use, how this affects the final look
of the project, and even the weight of your book, plus packaging if it
must be shipped – essential to know if you will be distributing by mail.
So now you can see many variables outside of the design which impact
considerations for the project as a whole. Especially when you consider
some deadline you may have, backtracking can be either very
expensive or impossible.
T hanks to the previous chapter, Begin at the end, you now should
have an idea of some of the questions you should ask and answer as
you start your project.
We don't wish to frustrate your creative energies, but understand that
Scribus is not likely the only tool you will need to complete your
In this chapter, we will discuss the processes and practice of editing
to help you understand not only the big picture of layout but many of
its details.
In the broad world of publishing, there are many different kinds of
documents, long or short monographs or periodicals, with or without
illustrations, and written by various types of professionals (writers or
journalists) or even nonprofessionals. All of these factors affect your
working method and how you will apply your layout and other
Regardless, a time-proven method in publishing is to separate the
content producing processes from the layout producing processes.
T his would be useful, for example, if you might reprint a series of
books using a different typeface or graphical style. Although it might
be updated or corrected, the text largely remains the same. T he
author of the text is not thinking about its presentation and style, only
its verbal content.
T his might seem excessively rigid or a constraint, but in reality it is
liberating, and allows various kinds of professionals to focus on their
aspect of the project, making their own decisions as they see fit. T he
author need only make some indication of what is a title, what is a
chapter heading or a paragraph, leaving the decisions about styles to
the graphic designer for the most pleasing end result. Similarly, the
designer is not concerned about syntax and semantics.
Scribus considers this distinction between content and layout, so you
are well advised to keep these separate as you set up your workflow.
Imagine that you work for a large newspaper operation, which
publishes its news in a daily printed paper, but also in a website. You
are responsible for the overall layout of the newspaper. Your
colleagues are journalists, photographers, editors, librarians, and even
the pressmen and entry operators, since this is a long-standing
organization that prints its own papers.
T he newspaper has established a workflow which defines the path
from text creation to delivery of the finished newspapers, with the
following components – writing (by a number of authors),
proofreading, editing, layout, proofing corrections, printing, finishing,
packaging and delivery. T he same text will enter a separate process,
with its own layout and editing process for the website.
In order to work efficiently, these two processes must have their own
set of rules, have different constraints on space available, as well as
two separate technological processes for each finished product.
T his is of course part of the overall editorial process, but is the
distinct part of it that relates to the designer, who must have a sense
of the overall design, while incorporating text and graphics with certain
formats or styles, and making sure there is a cohesive and pleasing
appearance to the elements as seen collectively.
We might divide this workflow into three steps:
Creation – concept development, sketches, layout of the model
(mockup), consideration of methods, and how they are applied.
Pre-press – production phase, in which the actual project is
assembled, problems identified and resolved before actual
printing occurs.
Printing – a sample printing is done in order to check the final
In your project you may or may not have a part in all of these steps,
but pre-press is where Scribus comes into the process. Of course, if
you are involved with something like a daily newspaper, you have a
number of aspects of layout which remain the same for long periods
of time, so the main daily job may begin at the pre-press stage.
Regardless of whether your project is your entire responsibility or
whether you are working with a team, you will find that utilizing a
workflow such as this will not only make the task easier but save much
time, especially whenever you decide to make some alteration in the
layout or style.
You will find that your work will include a number of steps which
consume a variable amount of time. Plan to allow for several days for
completing a project, especially if you are a beginner. T wo important
factors are the amount of text and the number of high-quality images
you are incorporating. Even after you have made the basic layout,
finishing touches can themselves take time.
Using an example of an eight-page booklet, where you create and
proofread the text, then use pre-existing images, a professional might
allow 3 to 4 working days for creation of the material, and 2 for the
layout. As a beginner, always allow 2 days for the layout, even for a
simple project.
Time allowances as percentages
T ime
1. Preparation and verification of sources
2. Choosing the document format, creating colors, and
choosing fonts
3. Creation of master pages, guides, and scrapbook(s)
4. Preparation and creation of text styles
5. Import text and images, applying styles
6. Manual positioning, and typographical adjustments
7 . Correction and verification of layout
8. PDF export and final adjustments for printing
T hese percentages are of course estimates, and will vary from project
to project. If you are making some sort of periodical, steps 2, 3, and 4
will of course take no time at all for subsequent issues.
T his is the time it takes not only for collecting the text and images,
but also logos, credits, databases, or any other sources of your
content, and in addition, organizing these into directories, and making
sure you have formats which meet the quality standards for your
T his might include things such as research and selection of images, or
checking a list of phone numbers. We are assuming you already have
your content collected together, have proofread the text, and at this
point are just verifying you have everything you need to begin the
layout. While we acknowledge that in the real world this often isn't the
case, this still remains a strong recommendation.
When you start Scribus, the first thing you must do is to choose the
document size, its orientation, and its folds. T his is an important step,
so if you want your readers to enjoy having it in their hands, put
yourself in their place. T ake a sheet of the appropriate size, fold as
needed, and ask yourself whether this is the feel your are looking for.
A good working method would be to choose 2 or 3 fonts (one for
titles, one for the body text, for example), and 2 or 3 reference
colors that will be in your color palette. With these first elements you
can begin to set the tone for the layout as a whole. If you're making a
new issue of a pre-existing periodical, these choices have likely already
been made.
T he next step is to create what we might call a page plan (also called
flatplan), where you begin to decide where various objects will be on
the page. If you are making a booklet then the number of pages is in
multiples of 4 – otherwise you have blank pages somewhere. It's
always good to talk to your printer about such issues.
Now that you have these basics planned, you can begin to create
Master Pages, which for a book or booklet will have right and left
versions, with appropriate placement of headers, page numbers, and
so on. Also use guides or a grid to help create the virtual spaces for
your content, and at this point you might also begin to create objects
which will be repetitively used and save them to your scrapbook for
future use wherever needed. T here is no need here to create sketches
of your layout as was done in the chapter Hands on.
T ext and typography are the most important design aspects for any
project containing written information – they are really the life of your
T he bulk of your work here will involve creating and adapting
paragraph and character styles. T his is fundamentally how the quality
of your document will be judged, and therefore worth whatever effort
it takes to get it right. Once you create styles, with one click you can
apply them to large bodies of text, then if you later modify your style,
it will automatically be updated wherever it has been used. Creating
styles is a good habit to develop, even if at the moment you're just
working on a single line of text.
At this point, you now import your content, then apply the styles you
have made for your text. If necessary, adjust your styles.
Next, import your images, adjusting size and position in relationship to
the text.
T his can be a gratifying point, when you begin to see your layout take
shape. You should now be able to appreciate the value of having made
all of the previous preparations, so that you can focus on the layout,
its overall appearance, and the relationships between various objects.
Using Master Pages and styles magnifies the power you have to easily
make document-wide changes.
For the most part, your job is nearing completion. But now you must
begin looking at small details, such as the relationship between images
and any explanatory text, any text that needs some sort of
highlighting, managing hyphenation, fixing widow and orphan lines, using
nonbreaking spaces to prevent certain linebreaks, avoiding "rivers" in
your columns of text, in essence, everything to make your project not
only a work of art, but also as easy to read and understand as
Depending on the complexity of the layout, this step can have a very
variable timeframe. Part of what you should be doing is learning how
to make this step easier by modifying some design choices at the
Even though you might believe you are nearing perfection at this point,
now is the time to read, reread, and again reread your document. Here
you will appreciate good quality sources for your text – is it well
written? Does it make sense everywhere?
It might seem implausible that at this point you might find simple
typos at this stage, but it happens to everyone. It may help to make a
quick print of the pages to facilitate finding errors, and allow you to
mark corrections in the margins. Not only are you looking for
typographical errors, but also errors in the meaning of what is written.
Have others go over your content and layout as well.
Now that your errors have been corrected, your layout is beautiful and
complete! Even though you thought about the eventual printing of
your document as you began, now you must make a number of
technical settings for the actual creation of the PDF which then goes to
your printer for the final output – this is the final stage of the prepress work which began with the collecting of your content materials.
Now you take your PDF to your printer, he tests it to make sure it will
come out as designed, and finally your document will be in your hands!
A good designer will want to have all the necessary content available in
order to begin a document. A preliminary yet fundamental step is
preparing your sources. T his chapter will explain the various things
involved in this preparation, before you begin your layout.
It makes sense that, as you begin a new document, you have already
decided on the document length, in particular how it relates to the
eventual printing plan. You should also have any content which you
yourself have created, and that which you have gotten from other
sources, including co-workers. You should always strive to gather as
much of the material together as possible, for the following reasons:
at the administrative level, you must know about the amount of
material in order to define the various characteristics of the
finished document, in particular in regard to it size (length) and
the cost.
from the creative point-of-view, having all the images and
graphics helps you envision the document's overall aesthetics,
and also know which elements you might be able to use and
during production, you don't want to have unanswered questions
about the content, which contributes to reduced anxiety, and
consequently much greater ease while working.
All the visual elements (photos, illustrations, and other graphics) plus
the text used in your layout. Here we will distinguish between
"graphical" sources and "text" sources.
Graphical sources
Graphical sources of a photographic type will come in one of two
forms – paper or digital, and each needs a separate handling:
If they are in paper (printed) format, they should be scanned at
high resolution, then saved in a suitable format, such as PNG.
If you happen to have negatives, there are scanners which can
handle this.
If they are digital, they might be initially received or saved on
CD/DVD, on an external drive, or even on a local or internet
server. However, if possible, put all your images in a folder in
your local computer, which can always be deleted once the
project is finished.
If they are on a camera, then download them by the appropriate
method. T ypically they will be JPEG format, though possibly RAW
(more flexible, but larger files).
T here may be some sort of processing needed for your images, which
will be covered below.
T he other main graphic sources will be drawings, diagrams, maps,
logos, and other elements created from scratch by you or some other
designer. Ideally, these should be in some kind of vector format for
the highest quality regardless of resizing.
T he chapter Organize will give more details about organizing your
In general, make sure that:
you are able to load your graphics into editing software which
you have at your disposal, such as Gimp (Open Source and Free),
Photoshop (Proprietary), Inkscape (Open Source and Free), or
Illustrator (Proprietary).
they are of sufficient size and quality for your use – more
details on this later.
Text sources
T ext is of course fundamental in books. T ext may come from a wide
variety of sources – text editors, word processors, emails, web pages,
or databases. Commonly used word processors are Libre Office,
OpenOffice, or Word. It's important to know the source your text files.
If you are getting text from several authors and maybe also
made with several kinds of software, it will be good to say which
format(s) you will accept, and perhaps merge them into a single
Verify that you can import the text to Scribus or load on
software you have to convert it to a usable format.
Make sure you have the final version of the text to avoid the
need for correcting or editing after you have started the layout.
Even a few words added or deleted may make a big change in
the layout somewhere. Make sure the text file contains no
images, or that if they do, you have the images separately in
their own files, and that you can load these into Scribus.
Make sure you have the necessary credits and permissions to
use the text and graphics.
You may have quite a variety of formats for your text and graphics,
yet there is variable suitability for use with Scribus. Be prepared for
some modifications to something you can more easily work with.
T hree important considerations:
Make sure the format is compatible with Scribus.
Make sure the quality (e.g., resolution) is sufficient to the needs in
your document.
Using formats you are familiar with will make the layout process
much easier and avoid unfortunate surprises.
File Formats
An important consideration in file formats is whether they are a
standard, made to be shared from one piece of software to another,
whether they include information about they were created, and in
which kinds of software they can be expected to behave normally. In
many proprietary formats, designed for use in proprietary software,
some details of the format may be secret and cannot be used by
other software.
All the formats listed here can be imported into Scribus. We restrict
the list to those which are of adequate quality and therefore
T ype
T ext
W3C standard
Small, widely used
Quality, can use
Quality, can use
clipping paths
Quality according
to original doc
standard, widely
W3C standard
May need
Compatible will all
software, web
Native Word,
ISO standard,
HT ML W3C standard
Quality, very
Size of file
Light, powerful,
fully documented
Widely used
Widely used,
Native formats are not designed to be imported by other software,
and proprietary formats belong to the companies that created them.
Especially since we see these proprietary formats change over time,
using various open formats may increase the longevity of their
usability for whatever purpose you may have.
More information on the benefits of using open formats can be found
Preparing images
Whether created by yourself or supplied to you from someone else,
your images may need some processing. T he goal is that they have
these qualities:
T he format is importable and of sufficient quality.
T hey have an appropriate resolution, so that at the end (the
PDF) they are at least 200 to 300 dpi (dots per inch).
T hey already have the appropriate dimensions, once the final
place of their use is known.
T he first two of these can be easily done with software such as
Photoshop or Gimp. If you don't have much experience using these,
and especially using them in an automated way, you might consult
Phatch – .
While it's customary in many professional workflows to convert images
to CMYK color before using them, Scribus will make this conversion for
you. Read the chapter on Color Management for further information
on customizing this process.
After processing, you should save the images using names which
inform you as to their content as an aid to identifying them when they
are needed. Make sure you keep track of the information on credits or
sources to include this in your layout as needed.
Preparing text
T ext poses problems of a different kind. Word processors in common
use typically focus on easy and rapid text entry, but various aspects
of style are typically ordinary and involve little thought. In contrast,
layout software is very much concerned with precise ideas about the
style and appearance of the text – a customized look is desired. Much
of the information contained in a word processor text file cannot be
used by Scribus, since it's peculiar to the word processor software
For this and other reasons, some prefer to only import plain text into
Scribus. All word processors have an option to save the text in various
formats including plain text (file extension .txt). In case the writer has
applied various specific features here and there, such as headers, bold
or italicized typefaces, be sure to keep track of these for adjustments
to your layout, since these will not be included in a plain text file. An
easy way might be to print out the text from the word processor.
If you are importing ODT files, font information and styles may be
imported along with the text, but may require some time for
adjustments after importation. DOC files will only be imported as plain
Regardless, you will need to carefully check for unexpected
indentations or blank lines, or other sorts of errors in the text.
Checking and correcting the file outside of Scribus will be easier than
from within Scribus.
When you create a document, its page dimensions are of paramount
importance. T his should be chosen according to the document's
content – not just the amount, but its meaning, its structure and
organization, and its target. From the menu, File > New brings up a
dialog with various options, confusing for the beginner, yet still
essential to the document's design. Not only does this need to
anticipate the layout, but also the eventual output from the printing
For convenience, as well as efficiency, it is common to use proven
standards of size based on ISO specifications. Worldwide, the most
common standard is based on the A formats, especially the widely
used A4 commonly used in your computer's local printer – US Letter is
similar in size.
Principles of Imposition
Depending on the specifics of the commercial printing equipment, the
printer may do an imposition, with assembly and arrangement of the
pages to be printed on a paper size much larger than the finished
document's pages, since this paper will be folded in order to create the
final size. T his not only saves the amount of paper handling involved, it
easily allows printing to the edges of the page.
Below we see a scheme of imposition depicting the distribution of a 16
page document on 2 sides of a sheet of paper. When properly folded
and then cut, the pages will be in the correct order on 4 smaller sheets
of paper.
Imposition is facilitated by having paper sizes where there is a
constant ratio of width to height, regardless of size. T hroughout the A
format series of papers, there is a relationship of width:height of 1:√2
. T hus, one can subdivide 1 sheet of A0 paper into 16 sheets of A4.
Here we can appreciate the flexibility of the A format series – the A1
width is half the height of A0, A2 width half the height of A1, and so on,
and thus this 1:√2 ratio is maintained throughout the series.
When you look at the Size choices for the New Document dialog, you
see that Scribus has a very large number of choices for you.
T here are two choices for orientation:
Portrait, the most common, since we are accustomed to using
paper taller than it is wide.
Landscape, utilized for special situations, when width of objects
or lines needs to be large. Many brochures will have a landscape
T he units of measurement are important, and are used throughout
Scribus, for position and sizing of various elements of content, plus
guides and margins, as well as the dimensions of the document itself.
T he default units are points, a worldwide standard for typographical
and printing measurements, A typical font which is 12 points in height is
one-sixth of an inch.
A more generally used unit is the metric system, specifically millimeters
for DT P. Since Scribus will automatically convert from one unit system
to another, you can use whichever suits your purpose. Whatever page
unit you use, you will see that your fonts, and font relationships, such
as linespacing, will always be measured in points. It is recommended
that you use or become familiar with a smaller unit, such points or
millimeters, since these allow for greater precision when positioning
and sizing objects.
In the New Document dialog, under Options, note the Default Unit which
is set. Even if you forget to change this setting, you can change your
units at any time. For convenience, go to File > Preferences > Document
to change your default setting.
In the upper left corner of the New Document dialog, there is a setting
for the page display on the canvas.
Single Page is commonly used in general, and for single sheet
documents such as flyers or advertisements. T his could also be
used for a PDF available on the internet.
Double Sided is another commonly used display, since it
conveniently displays the right and left pages of a book or
periodical with their relative relationships while reading.
Remember that imposition of the pages for printing is a separate
3-fold and 4-fold displays would be analogous to the double
sided where 3 or 4 pages will be seen side by side. Note that
Scribus will save, export, and print these as individual pages.
As was shown in the chapter Hands on, if you would be planning to
make a folding brochure from an A4 or similar paper, start with Single
Page A4 oriented in landscape, then use guides to help position your
If you have some idea of the number of pages your document will
have, you can create as many as you need under Options. If not, you
can easily add or insert more pages later.
As desired you may also create Automatic Text Frames, which will fill the
page to the margins as each page is created, either at this stage or as
you add pages later. Such frames will be automatically linked from one
page to the next, and furthermore, you may specify the number of
columns and gap between them.
T he use of margins is a personal preference, and mainly serves as a
guide for placing your objects in the layout, maintaining a certain white
space at the edges. For a Double Sided display, you have the choice of
some standard margins, such as Gutenberg, Fibonacci, Golden Mean, or
Nine Parts, which will of course be appropriately adjusted for right or
left pages. If you are printing on your own printer attached to your
computer, be sure not to exceed the printing area of your printer, and
clicking Printer Margins... sets the margins for that purpose.
Highlight your information
At first glance, creating margins seems simple, yet consider that you
are highlighting your text by the balance of white space around it.
T here may indeed be some elements which go to the paper's edge,
like some background image or a swatch of color, but these are not
the items you wish the reader to focus on. T he focus should be placed
on the text and any informational images you may have.
Create margins
Although you may be tempted to have identical margins around the
page, and certainly there is a way to link the margins so that they are
all the same, you would likely only want this for something like a
newsletter or magazine.
Most books will probably have some scheme in which the top
margin is narrower than the bottom, and the outer margin larger
than the inner (near the binding).
Make sure that you have a minimum of 5mm (14.2 points) of
inner margin, to allow for page area lost to the binding.
If you are using a Double Sided display, you will have a choice of
some traditional proportioned margins under Preset Layouts –
Gutenberg, Fibonacci, Golden Mean, and Nine Parts.
Bleed is an area at the margins of your page which will be trimmed
away after printing. Whenever you wish an image, a color, or graphic to
print to absolute edge of the paper, this will guarantee that in your
finished product, since you will make sure the object extends slightly
into that bleed area. It's also worth noting that the bleed width is
added to the page dimensions you specified under Size, so that for
example, an A4 with bleed will be trimmed to A4 size.
Here we see a right page of a double sided display, with Gutenberg
margins. T he area outside the red rectangle is the bleed area.
As was said about "the best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men", it does
happen that after we have begun work on a layout, we then need to
change its format.
Fortunately, you are not stuck and need to start over. If you choose
from the menu File > Document Setup > Document, you have the
opportunity to make adjustments in the settings mentioned in this
chapter. Alternatively, to change the current page, select from the
menu Page > Page Properties to make whatever changes you wish.
If you do change any current pages with content, this may result in a
need to adjust your layout and position of content.
Note that with Document Setup > Document, you have the choice of
applying your changes to all pages, and there is a separate checkbox
to apply new margin settings to all pages. You should learn quickly
what sorts of changes and amount of changes are relatively simple
and which require some substantial adjustments.
If you were going to make a layout for a book only consisting of text,
you may not consider color, but for most page layouts color is an
important feature. Many text layouts at the least use color to highlight
the text, or even applied to the fonts in some areas. T here are a
number of color palettes included with Scribus, but in addition you
may edit, remix, or add colors to create your own sets of color
T he set of colors you may use depends on by what method the colors
are created, and how they will be viewed by the reader of your work.
Although you might consider defining colors as only those which the
human eye can see, you first must realize that the eye does not
perceive all possible colors.
T his graph is a depiction of the boundaries of human eye perception,
an RGB computer monitor, and CMYK. In particular, consider the
limitations imposed by generating a layout in RGB, then printing this in
Nowadays we are highly familiar with this color model, since it is the
one used in computer monitor displays. From the elemental colors Red,
Green, and Blue, we use an additive process to create a balanced
(gray) color, which at its highest brightness will approach white.
T he RGB model offers a very wide gamut of color, some theoretically
beyond human perception. As computer monitors improve, there is an
increasing ability to display more of this spectrum. At the same time, a
designer working in DT P for print must remain aware of limitations of
print, and avoid extremes of hues.
T he CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and blacK) color model is of course
the basis of printing, where these colors of ink are often used. Ink
color is subtractive, since for example, a magenta ink is absorbing light,
but reflecting that which is perceived as a magenta color. If you add
cyan, you also absorb the light which cyan ink absorbs, so even less is
reflected. T he correct balance of cyan, magenta, and yellow
approaches black. A truly black color, as well as shades of neutral gray
can be produced with black ink.
As shown in the graph above, the CMYK gamut is smaller than RGB, but
also note that there are inks which cannot be accurately displayed on a
computer monitor. In addition, there are specialty inks like silver
metallic that would have no representation in an RGB scheme.
Although in theory one can find RGB values or CMY combinations which
are more or less gray, as a color model grayscale contains no color
information, only a representation of the degree of blackness.
On your computer screen, grayscale must of course be represented by
mixing the RGB colors it uses. In print, however, this is not necessarily
the case, although some particularly intense blacks can be created
using all the C, M, Y, and K inks. A minor issue here is cost, but also
that using more different inks is time consuming and requires
painstaking alignment for each reprinting with a new color. T hus, if
possible, one might wish to use one or two colors only.
In these situations we then might consider duotone, monotone, or
trichrome, where one intentionally processes the color information to
make use of a restricted number of inks. In this case, one might use
unique colors of very particular hues, known as spot colors, to achieve
this end.
Whether it might come from some already created palette or one you
create yourself, choosing a palette is an essential step in the creation
of your document. Its importance relates to its ability to set a mood
for your project and also affects legibility.
Sorting colors
Scribus has a dialog dedicated to Colors, brought up with the menu
selection Edit > Colors. You will have a default selection of colors, each
of which has a name, but also has an indicator which shows the color
model used:
CMYK – this is a color defined in this color space. What you see
on screen is likely an inaccurate representation of how this will
look in print.
RGB –this is of course the native color model for your monitor,
and while you can expect Scribus to convert to CMYK if your
intended output is for a printer, you may easily lose some of the
vibrancy you see on screen. On the other hand, if you are making
a PDF primarily for web use, no such limitation will occur.
Grayscale – if you wish to work in grayscale, clicking Delete
Unused Colors will reduce your palette to White and Black, and
Duotone – here again, Delete Unused Colors may be helpful as a
starting point, after which you can choose colors to be used in
your limited palette.
Note that removing colors doesn't absolutely eliminate their use in your
document. If you import an image or graphic with color, these will still be
in the output. Therefore, you must pre-process your images to grayscale if
that is what you wish the output to in fact be.
Create colors
Once you have reduced your list of colors to its essentials, you are
ready to complete your palette.
T o add a color, click the New button. T o change an existing color, click
Edit. T he dialog which appears next gives you a number of parameters
to choose or edit. If you are making a new color, you may want to
immediately choose a name for your color, and its color space, CMYK
or RGB.
At the top and right of the dialog you see your default HSV Color
Map, which gives you the entire range of color within your color space.
Other choices will give you the colors from the various palettes
included with Scribus, and in addition any palette you may have
created and saved. You can either use these colors as they are, or
modify them according to your needs, in which case you should change
the name to avoid confusion.
T he sliders underneath your new or chosen color allow you to modify
the hue and saturation as you wish.
Spot Color
Spot colors are a special ink, frequently proprietary, with a premixed
formula, used to precisely define a color for repetitive use, and may
allow for limiting the number of inks used in printing. A commercial
business may choose one or more spot colors for its logo.
Because these are premixed, you cannot modify the hue or other
parameters and still use this spot color ink, even though Scribus will
certainly allow these edits. If you include such a color without changing
its name, your printer will use the original spot color.
Where possible, Scribus has made an attempt to include a number of
spot color palettes from various vendors, and some other palettes as
described by various government agencies.
Choosing colors
T his echoes the title of this chapter, but now we begin to discuss the
choice of specific colors for your document. T his is a daunting
prospect for beginners, to which some may react by excessively
reducing their color set, and others by using a large palette in some
sort of unbridled way. So here we will try to explain a rational
approach. Begin by considering how the colors you use affect the
mood of your document and how your colors interact with each other.
T here is fortunately within Scribus a tool which can help with choices,
the Color Wheel, brought up by clicking Extras > Color Wheel.
T here is a fairly detailed description of the Color Wheel in the English
version of the online manual. Here we will try to go over some overall
concepts. For whichever color scheme you choose, you begin with a
base color. T his is a color you will definitely wish to use, and will use
the Color Wheel to help you choose what others to use with it.
Now we see the various schemes – Monochromatic, Analogous,
Complementary, Split Complementary, Triadic, and Tetradic.
Monochromatic is perhaps the simplest, with two variations on your
base color having more brightness or darkness, but the same hue. T he
rest of the schemes allow for choosing palettes with colors which are
related (analogous), or those which offer the greatest contrast
Replacing colors
It is very much worth mentioning that, should you use some color in
your document, then change your mind yet not actually want to edit
the original, you have the option by using Edit > Replace Colors... to
change a color wherever it is used to a different one. T his will not
eliminate the original from your palette.
Admittedly, it is far from obvious, but you also have the capability of
saving and using patterns for use as a background fill for various
objects. Once you become familiar with them, you may create or
import some patterns, just as you prepare your color palette.
Getting patterns
Just as clicking Edit > Colors will bring up a dialog for colors, you can
click Edit > Patterns to bring up a dialog to manage patterns. T he first
time you do this, you will no doubt be disappointed to see that there
are no default patterns. You can easily find a number of free patterns
on the web, typically in a zipped file. After you unzip, look for bitmap
files – you will not be able to use files ending with .pat in case you run
across these. Make sure you understand the licensing terms of any
patterns you might download, since for example, they may allow for
free personal use, but not in any commercial project.
Load individual patterns with Load File, or load an entire directory of
patterns with Load Set.
Making your own patterns
From most objects you can create a pattern by right-clicking for the
context menu, then choosing Send to Patterns.
Using patterns
Use patterns as you would a fill color. In the Color tab of Properties,
clicking the button just below the selector for fill opens a drop-down
list, which includes Patterns, and will show what patterns you have
available. Note that if you have no patterns, this choice will not appear.
Now choose your pattern, after which you may adjust the position,
scale, rotation, and opacity of your pattern. A limitation with setting a
low opacity (more transparent) at this point is that content of a text
or image frame will also be affected. You can work around this by
adjusting the opacity of your object before you Send to Patterns.
In typography, there are a number of terms one runs across, and it's
easy to confuse one with another. You may have heard of names like
T imes, Garamond, Helvetica, Futura, DejaVu, and Droid. We can
consider these as "font families". For example, in the DejaVu font
family or typeface, we have Sans, Serif, Sans Condensed, and under
each of these we may have a bold, or italics, or regular (often termed
"Book") style. T hen in a given document we may have 12 point or some
other size of typeface. Strictly speaking, when we specify a font, it
might be DejaVu Sans, Bold, and 10 pt.
It's also good not to confuse characters and glyphs. A character is
the letter, number, or symbol one is trying to create. "A" and "B" are
two different characters. A glyph is the representation of that
character in some particular typeface, so that an "A" in Garamond is a
different glyph than an "A" in DejaVu Sans, even though they are the
same character.
Historically, of course, printers had and were able to make font sets,
cast from lead, which they used until they became so worn they had to
be recast. With modern printing methods, these have disappeared and
have been replaced with computerized methods for creating fonts of
any size and style.
Even though typeface creation no longer involves pouring lead into a
cast, we still use the term "font foundry" to apply to the companies
who make it their business to create computerized versions of
Font characteristics
Most of the typefaces you will see will be either serif or sans serif
(often abbreviated as sans). Serifs are small appendages at the various
tails of letters, designed to make letters more distinctive. One
challenge any typeface encounters is its legibility, or in other words,
the ability to discern one character from another. Another is
readability, which refers to the ease of reading a body of text. Each
of these contributes to some extent to the fatigue one feels in reading
large amounts of text, since poor legibility and readability lead to slow
reading as well as rereading.
Here we see on top a Serif font, with the serifs highlighted. Below, a Sans
Serif font.
Although there are some who feel that serif fonts have better
readability, this has not been conclusively proven. T here may be some
tendency to favor Sans typefaces on the web, and Serif for print, but
even this has no clear cut division, especially as we have increasingly
high resolution screens to work with.
Letter spacing
Letter spacing in our context here refers to the space between
individual letters, for which there are two general schemes,
Proportional and Monospaced.
Here is shown the chief difference between these two types, with
variable spacing between letters in the proportional typeface.
Monospaced typefaces are similar to what may come from a
typewriter, and can be useful when vertical alignment of characters is
The main font families
With what we have said as a starting point, it is worth listing the main
types of font families in common usage:
Sans serif, or Sans
Monospaced, or Mono
Cursive or Script, meant to resemble handwritten characters
Ornamental or decorative, sometimes with very exotic
distortions of glyphs
Symbols, typically not alphanumeric characters. Dingbats is an
You should be familiar with Bold versus Regular (or Book), but there is
a wide range of thicknesses of the glyphs, such as in addition Thin,
Light, Demi-Bold, Heavy, and Black.
Italics and oblique
Italics are smaller size glyphs which are generally also more compactly
printed, one of the reasons for which being to allow for a greater
amount of text per printed page, something of concern when paper
and other printing media were more expensive than now. Currently,
italics is often used for emphasis, as an alternative or combined with a
heavier typeface.
An oblique typeface will also be slanted, but will likely have a spacing
similar to the regular version.
Some programs, such as word processors, may artificially create italics
and oblique fonts from regular typeface, but for professional layout
you should use italics specifically created as a separate typeface, and
Scribus will only use an italics typeface specifically created as an italics
T he fonts which your computer is able to use are contained in a
number of files, which consist of the metrics for the font, in other
words, the instructions for your computer to create them on screen
and for export as a PDF for printing. In case it isn't apparent from the
above, Scribus will need a set of metrics for each version of a
typeface in order to use it. T herefore, for example, you will need a
separate set of metrics for each of the following – DejaVu Sans Book,
DejaVu Sans Bold, DejaVu Sans Bold Italic, DejaVu Sans Condensed,
DejaVu Sans Condensed Bold, and so on.
T here are 3 main categories of font files you will see: TrueType
(extension .ttf), OpenType (extension .otf), and PostScript (extension
.pfm or .pfb).
Installing new fonts
You should already have a number of fonts on your system, but to
install additional fonts there are different procedures depending on
your operating system:
Windows 7/Vista – right-click on the file, choose InstallI.
Windows XP – put the files into C:\Windows\Fonts
Mac OS X – double-click on the file, then click button Install
Linux – copy the folder containing the font family to
/usr/share/fonts. You may also have a package for the font which
can be automatically installed, depending on which version of
Linux you are using.
If Scribus is running while you are installing a new font, you will need to
restart it, since startup is when Scribus searches for fonts on your
Using a custom folder
You can install fonts in almost any location on your computer, but you
will then need to tell Scribus about them. After starting Scribus, click
File > Preferences > Fonts. You must do this with no document open,
then select the Additional Paths tab to help Scribus locate your fonts.
A guiding principle in your layout is to avoid using a large number of
different fonts, even though you may be tempted to try out any
number of those fonts sitting in your computer. Use of too many
fonts is first of all distracting, but as you become more experienced,
you will also see that it is unattractive and takes away from the
pleasing and coherent visual appearance you are trying to create.
It should rarely be necessary or desirable to use more than 2 or 3
fonts for most documents. Furthermore, it's a good idea to choose
these ahead of time, since the type of font may play a role in the
design process of other visual elements. A typical set of choices might
be one font for headlines, another for subheadings, and a third for the
text body.
Here are some additional essential characteristics you must consider:
Does the font contain all of the characters I need? Different
typefaces will have a variable extent of coverage for various
languages or even for special characters like fractions or the
copyright symbol.
Is the encoding correct? Here you want to make sure that when
you enter a particular character from your keyboard the correct
glyph is shown.
Are the glyphs appropriate for my use? You should run a test to
see that, after export to PDF, the legibility is adequate for your
needs. For example, some fonts designed for the web are not of
sufficient quality for use in printed material.
Is this a reliable, good font? Some fonts are simply better
designed than others. A better designed font has letter spacing
carefully created to allow characters to have a nice, even display
in various combinations of glyphs. Again, looking at some sample
text in an exported PDF is your best test.
Scribus runs some testing on fonts to ensure they meet some basic
quality checks, but this is no replacement for some manual checks on
your own. You certainly want to find out about problems with a font as
soon as possible in the design and layout process, and not wait until you
have gotten to the finished product.
T o some extent, there is probably a greater likelihood of some issues
with fonts having a huge number of glyphs, due to the work it takes to
carefully design so many.
At the present time, Scribus does not adequately support non-Latin
languages other than Cyrillic, but this is under active development.
Even a basic system may have dozens of fonts included, and with time
you may find you have hundreds, so using a font manager can help
you sift through this for the 2 or 3 that you will use in your document.
What these allow for is an easy ability to scan the various glyphs, along
with a classification of the font type, and to read metadata, including
licensing for the font. Just because a font is free doesn't necessarily
mean it allows unrestricted use. In addition, you can use the manager
to inactivate fonts you do not want to use, which shortens the list of
possible choices.
One such font manager easily available and recommended is
Fontmatrix, found at, and which has versions
for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.
An alternative, a bit more simple, is Font manager
T his might come about when you use a different computer from the
the one you created the document on originally, or when you receive a
document from someone else.
As soon as a document is loaded, Scribus checks to see that all of its
fonts are present on your system. For each that is missing, you will see
a dialog appear, suggesting a substitution, or with which you can
choose some other font which you do have on your system.
As we have noted above, not all fonts you may find are adequate for
DT P purposes. Here we give a short list of free fonts with open
licensing which you can expect to give you quality results in your PDFs.
Liberation is a font family developed by Red Hat as an
alternative to the proprietary Arial, Arial Narrow, T imes New
Roman, and Courier New. Since they were developed together
they show a good consistency of style between them. T his
family includes Liberation Sans, Liberation Sans Narrow,
Liberation Serif, and Liberation Mono.
T o download:
License: GPL v2, with exception for fonts
Droid is a font family developed for the Android operating
system, consisting of Droid Sans, Droid Serif, and Droid Mono. As
with the Liberation family, the fact they were developed together
contributes to consistency.
T o download:
License: Apache License v2
Gentium a very attractive font family developed by Victor
Gaultney, and which has some similarities to the classic
Garamond font. T he family includes Alternative Gentium,
Gentium Basic, Gentium Book Basic, Gentium Plus, and Gentium
Plus Compact.
T o download:
License: SIL Open Font License (OFL)
DejaVu is a font family based on Bitstream Vera, which has a
good track record used onscreen. One of its highlights is a huge
selection of glyphs – if you need something unusual, check
DejaVu. It includes DejaVu Sans, DejaVu Sans Condensed, DejaVu
Serif, and DejaVu Mono.
T o download:
License: specific permissive license, available at
Cantarell is a modern and complete font designed by Dave
Crossland, with variations and Bold Oblique.
T o download:
License: SIL Open Font License (OFL)
Here are three reliable sources of good quality fonts:
Open Font Library:
Google Web Fonts:
Font Squirrel:
A reminder: always check the license of your font before you use it, to
be sure that it meets your needs.
As you continue working on your layout, you will accumulate an
increasing number of files. It begins with your source files for text and
images. Next comes your document file itself, various PDF proofs,
production notes and communications, messages and corrections from
your proofreaders, and perhaps some additional requests for
On a practical level, it will make sense to collect similar files together,
and have some organization for successive issues of a periodical for
example, when you want to easily refer back to prior issues. All of this
begins on a small scale, yet soon you have so many that, without some
organization you risk suddenly frantically trying to find something that
you seem to have lost.
Organization begins from the top down, so start with a main folder for
the project, with a sensible name so you can locate it quickly. T hink
about whether you are creating something as part of a series, so that
you can name your directories accordingly, perhaps with an issue
number included in its name. You might, for example, concatenate
More specifically one could have something like 201107 12_leaflet-A4flossmanuals_150x125mm_CMYK_300dpi.tif. T his might seem ridiculously
long, but such a title can make subsequent searching much easier, and
avoid the time it takes to actually look at the files inside.
Inside this directory will first of all be the Scribus .sla file, then
subdirectories for each type of content. T ext and images would of
course be appropriate, and you may have separate folders for
processed images to keep the originals safe and unaltered. After this,
folders for PDF proofs, and a separate one for the final PDF. You can
certainly add further folders for your specific needs as you continue
working on your project, with a hierarchy that meets your needs.
Scribus does not have the actual image data in its .sla files, only a link
(pathname) to the file for each image. T he only exception would be an
imported vector image, in which case the vector data is included in the
document file. T hus one can see how imperative it is to have an
organized system for keeping your image files together.
A separate folder for these is advisable, and once again, naming the
files in some numerical fashion will be useful for future reference.
One way to easily reproduce such a structure is to have a template of
sorts, a main directory with its various subdirectories, which has all the
basic structural elements. T hus when you begin a new project, you
simply copy this folder and subfolders, renaming the main folder, and
voilà! You are ready to begin your project.
T his chapter presents some features of Scribus which will help you
create a logical and coherent structure of your document, and in the
process demonstrate ways to keep your document organized by its
structural components.
Here we will show three features:
Master Pages are applied as a background for your pages, and
contain objects which will be seen repetitively on various pages.
Guides are horizontal and vertical lines with some magnetic
properties, to help align various elements in your layout
T he scrapbook is a place to store individual objects so they can
be reused on various pages at various locations.
As indicated above, Master Pages contain objects which are seen again
and again as a background of sorts for the rest of your content.
T ypical objects on a Master Page might be titles with associated
graphics, and a page number.
The Outline
You can bring up a dialog showing an outline of your document(s) with
Windows > Outline. T his bring up a tree display of your currently open
documents, and underneath, the list of Master Pages, and each
document page. You can use this to navigate to each to these items
for editing. Clicking on a Master Page brings up the Edit Master Pages
dialog, in addition to displaying the Master Page for editing.
Arrange Pages
By clicking Windows > Arrange Pages you bring up another dialog, which
also lists your Master Pages and document pages, but in addition can
be used for navigation as well, but also assigning or reassigning Master
Pages to various document pages. Double-clicking on a Master Page will
bring up the Edit Master Pages dialog.
Creating Master Pages
In addition to the above two methods for editing Master Pages, you
can choose Edit > Master Pages from the main menu. Note that
whenever the Edit Master Pages dialog is open, you see on the canvas
and are editing Master Pages, not the document page. Close the Edit
Master Pages dialog to revert to displaying and editing document
It is possible to make a Master Page from a regular document page, by
selecting from the menu Page > Convert to Master Page. Next, select a
name for this new Master Page, and also note that you can select to
copy the items from whatever Master Page may have been applied to
the document page.
You can assign Master Pages in three ways:
by assigning the Master Page when a new page is inserted. (Page
> Insert).
by applying a Master Page to an individual page.
by applying a Master Page to a series of pages.
With the current stable versions of Scribus, Master Pages are always
operating as a background to any other content on the page, thus it
will always show underneath the lowest layer of your document page.
Reusing Master Pages
You can also can import Master Pages from another document. Click
the third button from the left in the Edit Master Pages dialog, after
which you select the document and the particular items you wish to
import. Be sure that you have access to any needed images or fonts.
Guides are a fundamental element of your document layout, and might
most appropriately be used in your Master Pages considering their
placement as a background for the document. T hese horizontal and
vertical lines, which are not seen after export to PDF, help define
spaces for visual balance, and assist in the alignment and organization
of the content of your document pages.
Grid or columns
T here are two commonly used patterns of guide usage:
A modular grid, consisting of rectangular areas of similar or the
same size, so that one might use one or more of these spaces
to place text and graphics.
Layout columns, where the same number of columns is used
throughout the document. Note that images or illustrations may
span two or more columns.
Above: a grid type of layout.
Above: page layout in 2 columns.
T he grid is typically more demanding, since it often requires page-bypage decisions about sizing and placing of various elements.
Adding guides
T he simplest method to add guides is to click and drag from the ruler
areas. Click-dragging from the ruler will create vertical guides, and
from the top ruler, horizontal guides. If you don't see anything, make
sure you have View > Show Guides checked in the menu.
Next, make sure you have checked Page > Snap to Guides. T o see how
this works, make an arbitrary frame, then drag it near a guide.
Compare the difference between having Snap to Guides checked or
T o move your guides, hover the mouse over the guide until you see
the cursor change to a double arrow shape, at which time you can
click-drag to adjust its position. T o delete a guide, click-drag off the
page, then release the mouse button.
Managing guides
When the layout must conform to some pattern according to the
dimensions of your page size or the space inside the margins, you may
find using Page > Manage Guides useful, in which case single or double
guides can be placed with high precision. An example was the brochure
guides created in the chapter Hands-on. Here you may also lock
guides to prevent accidental changes.
Predefined settings for guides and grid
By selecting File > Document Settings > Guides (for the current
document) or File > Preferences > Preferences (for future documents),
you have the ability to change some settings for guides, such as the
placement above or below content, activity of the snapping, and the
color of the guides, In addition, you might choose to show a grid as an
automatic substitute for a modular pattern of guides. T he grid has
two kinds of lines, major (thicker) and minor (thinner), with the spacing
of each adjustable.
While you are creating your guides, make sure you consider the need
for spaces or gutters between guides, which will be free of content, or
white space. In certain modular grid layouts this may not be a
consideration if the design has large areas of white space already.
Certainly if you are creating text columns with your grid, a gutter will
be needed.
In instances like this, you may find that manual placement of the guides
is more suitable.
T he scrapbook is a library or collection of objects which you find you
use repeatedly within a document, and especially in many different
documents. Your scrapbook is opened every time you start Scribus,
and contains all objects you have saved to it, so it avoids the need to
import from some document, the name and location of which you
would have to remember.
It is accessed from Windows > Scrapbook. By default, you have a Main
page of scrapbook objects, but you can create more pages in the
Scrapbook operation
Until you save something to the Scrapbook it is empty. T o save some
object, right-click to bring up the context menu, then select Send to
Scrapbook > Main (or some other page you may have created there).
You will be prompted to give it a name, after which it will be saved
with various properties, such as fill and outline, and even styles. All
Scribus objects can be saved in this manner, including Groups of
A simple way to place an scrapbook object is to click-drag it to your
document, where you may then modify it as you wish without affecting
the copy saved in your Scrapbook. If you right-click on the object in
the Scrapbook, then click Paste to Page, you will place the object at the
same coordinates of the current page that it had on the original page
it was saved from.
Managing the Scrapbook
As noted above, the Scrapbook objects will be accessible every time
you start Scribus. Creating new pages in the Scrapbook can help your
organization of objects for specific purposes. Although Scribus refers
to these as pages, you will create a new directory for storing more
You can also export a Scrapbook to an external directory by clicking
the Save the selected scrapbook button, which may be of use to share
these objects with someone else or perhaps to another computer you
may have. T hat other person would then click the Load an existing
scrapbook button to bring those objects into his Scrapbook.
In addition, there is a separate button for importing a Scrapbook from
a version of Scribus which is 1.3.2 or older.
Now that you've created your Master Page, and have your guides in
place, it's time to begin the work of adding your text and graphic
As you discovered in the chapter Hands-on, your content will be
placed in frames, which might be called boxes in other programs. T he
name frame comes from the device of that name used in the days of
typesetting with lead type, which was a physical wooden frame to hold
the type together.
Frames serve as containers for whatever you wish to have on your
page, and for the most part one kind of frame can be converted to
another, but note that a frame can only have one kind of content. If
you convert a text frame to an image frame, the text disappears. If
you right-click on a frame to bring up the context menu, from which
you will see Convert to, with some choices.
One way of beginning your layout is to create a number of empty
frames of various types, sized and positioned for a pleasing
appearance. Use the Snap to feature to align them with your guides as
needed. Remember, this is set with Page > Snap to Guides.
Colors, gradients, and patterns in frames
Giving a background color to a frame is a simple matter of going to
the Properties palette (opened up with Windows > Properties, or
pressing F2), then from the Color tab choosing a color from your
color palette, making sure the Fill button is selected (the icon looks like
a spilling bucket).
T he frame itself is a vector object, but for text and image frames the
default is for its background and border to have no color. T he
paintbrush icon denotes the border, also known as stroke.
Aside from using a solid color, you also have the option of creating a
gradient for the fill color. Just below the fill and stroke buttons is a
drop-down list, where Normal denotes a solid color, then below that
you have a list of various gradients. If you choose one of these, the
first thing you will see when a color bar appears below the gradient
choice is that you still only have a solid color, since you must choose
the colors for the gradient you wish to use.
Note that there are two triangle markers below the color bar, and that
one of them is red. T his is the selected point for the color which is
highlighted in your color list. Choose a different color and you should
now see a gradient. Click on the other triangle to select it to change its
color. You can also slide these triangles nearer to each other.
In addition, you may add more triangles by bringing the mouse cursor
up below the color bar and clicking (once) – you should see the cursor
change to a + when you are able to make a new triangle. If you want
to delete one of these, click-drag it vertically from the color bar. T he
minimum number of these triangles is two.
As was indicated in the chapter Choosing colors, you may either
download or create patterns from various Scribus objects. If you have
any patterns, then this will be an additional choice in the drop-down list
where you find gradients, after which you can choose a pattern as a
background for your frame.
Any time you are working, and as of yet have no actual content, you
may find this a good time to manipulate a collection of frames for a
pleasing result. For example, in a 4-column text layout, you might have
an image somewhere spanning 3 columns.
While there certainly are no hard and fast rules to designing layout,
and sometimes of course breaking rules can be an intentional aspect,
here are some things to consider:
Begin with 2 or 3 elements, whether these might be some initial
color choices, or objects on the page, then gradually build from
there, trying to avoid what we might call a "layout pizza", with
way too much of everything on it.
Prioritize the information on the page– sometimes literally
squinting as you look at the page will show you what immediately
stands out visually, and there should be some hierarchy of
attracting your attention, but hopefully no more than 3 levels of
Since in most Western languages we read from left to right, top
to bottom, this is also how we scan a page, so consider this as
you arrange various objects. At the same time, contradicting this
can heighten the interest and energy in your layout.
T ypography is the central concern in a textual document,
legibility and readability are paramount.
Consider white space as more than the absence of content, but
an active element in showcasing your text and images. If you
wish to strongly separate two areas visually, use lines as
separators, but keep in mind that lines can be a barrier to
natural eye tracking.
Use contrasts to heighten visual interest – light and darker
colors, large and small sizes, Serif and Sans serif, full and empty,
proximity versus distance, balance and imbalance, shades of gray
versus colors. Having a larger white space around some text
draws the eye to that text.
Keep things simple, and focus on the readability of your
document. Use things like patterns and gradients sparingly (if at
all), since they may attract more visual attention than they
Now that you have a basic collection of objects, arranged carefully,
surely you will continue to refine your layout by adding what is needed
and subtracting what is not. T here is yet another important task you
must know as you build the overall document: linking text, which
determines how text connects from one part of a page to another or
one page to another.
Scribus will not automatically create a new frame or new page once
the current one is overflowing. So you must manually create those
pages and frames, then use the linking tool. If you hover your mouse
over the toolbar you will eventually get to the linking icon. From the
main menu, there is also Item > Link Text Frames.
Once you see that you have overflowing text (indicated by a small box
with an X in the lower right corner of the frame), you should ensure
you have another frame to link to.
Select the frame which is overflowing.
Click the Link Text Frames icon.
Click the frame to which to want text to flow.
If you wish to link to a third (or more) frame, you must click the
icon again, then the next frame in the linkage.
5. If you need to unlink a frame, there is an Unlink Text Frames icon
next to the one for linking. It will only be selectable when you
have an already linked frame selected. Select the last frame
which you wish to remain in the linkage, click the unlink icon, then
then next frame, and linkage will be broken at that point.
Note that you can create linkages between frames even before there is
text content. Also, if you have selected Automatic Text Frames when
you created your document, whenever you add a new page, it will contain
a frame which is already linked to the previous page.
In case you wish to view all of your text frame linkages, select View >
Show Text Chain from the menu.
T here are times when you wish to capture in some rough way the
visual impact of the combination of text and other elements, or
perhaps help to choose an appropriate font with its settings. T his is
where sample text, sometimes called lorem ipsum, can be used.
Lorem ipsum refers to the most famous, perhaps original version of
this, and goes something like this: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetuer adipiscing elit. Ut a sapien. Aliquam aliquet purus molestie
dolor. Integer quis eros..., which doesn't translate from Latin to anything
since it's a jumbled up mixture of words. Nonetheless, it has a
sentence-like structure, is divided into paragraphs, and contains a
mixture of various words, both small and large.
T o use sample text, select a frame, then from the menu, Insert >
Sample Text (also obtainable from the context menu). From the dialog
that appears you can choose the language you wish, and the number
of paragraphs of text.
T ypographic color, also perhaps referred to as typographical gray, is
the perception one has of the degree of darkness or overall color
impression of a block of text, which comes not only from the typeface
and its weight, but also the white space between letters, words, and
lines. T his is also affected by the whiteness or the color of the paper
on which the text is printed.
T his is a very important consideration in your layout, since it is
immediately seen by the reader before the actual text content is
Factors which influence the tonal value are the specific font, its subset,
weight, the linespacing (or leading), line breaks, kerning, and justification.
It may be easier to appreciate the tonal value by squinting to make
the text indistinct so that you are left with the overall gray sense of a
block of text. You may also notice a non-homogeneity, if some areas
are darker, some lighter.
T ypography will be discussed further in its own chapter in the section
T he image below shows the same text in 11 pt Liberation Sans with
progressive linespacing of 3, 6, 9, 12, and 15 pts. Immediately you see
the change from a very overall black appearance to light gray. T his
example shows only one of the parameters which can influence the
tonal value, yet in a quite obvious way.
A final and important thing to discuss here is the arrangement of your
various objects, not just in an X, Y space referring to there placement
on the two-dimensional page, but also in a third Z axis, regarding which
objects are on top or underneath other objects. T his is especially
important when two objects might be overlapping – one must be on
top of the other.
In Scribus this is called the Level, and can be adjusted by right-clicking
for the context menu, then under Level, choosing to raise or lower the
object. Here you only know the relative movement you have selected,
but in the X, Y, Z tab of Properties, where you can also make these
changes, you will also see what level the object is on, 1 being the lowest.
Note that each object has its own unique level.
Any time you add a new object, it will be placed above all other
content, creating a new level.
For more complex documents you may wish to go further and create
a new Layer, which will be another set of levels, separate from your
original. Within a layer, you will have the typical arrangment of levels,
one on another, but the entire layer will either be above or below
some other layer.
Your default document will only have one layer, called Background.
Bring up the layers dialog with Windows > Layers (keyboard shortcut:
F6). At the bottom of the dialog, see the '+', to click to create a new
layer, which you should give a meaningful name to. By default it will be
created above the Background, but can be moved below it if you wish,
by clicking the down arrow icon.
Some additional important features:
You may only edit on one layer at a time, the one which is
highlighted. T his is a very useful feature, to keep from
accidentally changing or moving objects. Furthermore, you can
lock an entire layer, so that it cannot be edited even if selected.
You can delete any layer except for the Background.
You can rename any layer, including the Background layer.
You can make a copy of a layer (with all its objects).
You can choose to make an entire layer invisible, and
independently not print (or export to PDF).
You may choose to have all text on a layer flow around any
objects on layers above it.
Finally, you can represent all objects on a layer in a simple
"wireframe" appearance for faster screen updates – this only
affects display.
You can easily move an object from one layer to another, by
way of the context menu.
T here is also a drop-down list for the blending mode, Normal being a
separate representation of each object on a layer. Experimentation will
show how these various setting affect the appearance.
In the upper right corner of the dialog you can set the Opacity or
transparency of objects on that particular layer.
As you may imagine, using layers is a very powerful tool in creating
and manipulating your layout.
Depending on the type of document you are working on, the process
of design can be optimized by automating common tasks.
When the amount of text is great, and it has a consistent structure, as
far as header, titles, blockquotes, captions, and so on, then styles are
by far the best tool for easily applying these features. With a single
click, you can apply the various font parameters you have been using
throughout your document.
T here are several advantages to using styles:
T hey improve productivity
T hey greatly simplify making last minute changes to a text
appearance document-wide
T hey allow for a consistent appearance from one part of a
document to another and from one issue or edition to the next
T hey allow for coordinating captions with the graphics to which
they refer
T hey allow for a more pleasing experience on the reader's part
T hey easily allow for coordination of work by a team working on
the same document
About the only disadvantage is the time it takes to plan and create
these various styles, but even here there is an easy allowance to adjust
your style later, so less pressure to get the style "exactly right" the
first time.
Making a simple style is actually a very quick process. It takes no more
time than setting various font and typography characteristics with the
Properties palette, and you end up with something you can
immediately reuse somewhere else.
Tip: It's good practice to begin making styles as you begin a
document. T hink about some basic elements such as the text body,
headings, captions, and make some reasonable attempt at these.
Remember, you can easily alter these later once your document begins
to take shape.
T he Style Manager consists of two main parts. When you initially open
it with Edit > Styles from the menu, you see this smaller part shown
above, where you may select a style and act upon it (Edit), or create a
new one (New).
T o create a style of whatever type requires a few steps:
1. Bring up the Style Manager with Edit Styles.
2. Click the New button, then from the drop-down list choose the
type of style you wish to create.
3. T he dialog now expands as shown below for creating a
Character Style.
4. Change the name to something meaningful for its use. It's
probably best not to incorporate the font name in the style
name, since at some later point you might switch to another font
for your headings, for example.
Character Styles
Character Styles and Paragraph Styles are related, but not exactly the
same. A Character Style has to do with the particular attributes we
have set for the font, such as the typeface, its weight, size, kerning,
whether it might be underlined, struck through, and the other features
you see above.
One feature of a Paragraph Style is that it also implies an associated
Character Style, but the reverse is not true. T hus we can use a
Character Style to modify the appearance of a font in mid-sentence
without affecting the structure of its paragraph or the font elsewhere
in that sentence.
Consider, for example, a situation where you may have some text
which contains numbers referring to some statistics. Since you want
these to stand out from the surrounding text, you change the
typeface, or weight. Using the Properties palette, you could highlight
these one-by-one, then modify settings as needed. If you use styles,
however, you make the settings once, then simply apply the Character
Style, and if later you modify the style, it is immediately applied
everywhere it was used.
So to be more specific:
Bring up the Style Manager with Edit > Styles.
Click New, then choose from the drop-down list Character Style.
Replace the default name New Style with StatisticalNumerals.
Select your font, its weight, then farther down its color. Your list
of colors here is the same color palette you use elsewhere.
5. Change any other properties as you see fit, then click Done. If
later you edit your style, you can click Apply to apply the changes
wherever it is used.
Paragraph Styles
As was stated above, the settings for a Paragraph Style include those
for its associated Character Style.
As its name suggests, Paragraph Style is applied to an entire
paragraph of text. What may be less obvious is that, in addition to the
features of a character style, you also may set linespacing, indentation,
presence of drop caps, optical margins, space above or below a
paragraph, justification, and tabs.
Open the Style Manager with Edit > Styles.
Click New, then choose from the drop-down list Paragraph Style.
Replace the default name New Style with, for example, Title.
In the Properties tab, choose the various parameters to your
5. You may also select the Character Style tab for all the various
adjustments in the font, etc.
Line Styles
Although less commonly used, Line Styles can also be useful for
maintaining a consistent appearance to frame borders, or any lines
which you may use in your document.
1. Open the Style Manager with Edit > Styles.
2. Click New, then choose from the drop-down list Line Style.
3. Replace the default name New Style with, for example, Framed
4. In the Properties tab, choose the various parameters to your
Once you have created your styles, they are available in selected
locations for their application.
Paragraph and Character Styles
T hese are both available in the Properties palette, under Text > Style
Settings. Use some caution, so that you understand how to apply each
style from its drop down list. T here is also some importance of the
order in which to apply styles.
1. First, apply your Paragraph Style.
2. Next, select the appropriate text and apply a Character Style.
3. At this point, you might still wish to make some minor
adjustments by adjusting various parameters in the T ext tab
If you notice trouble reverting in case you have made a mistake, you
should try the Remove Direct Paragraph/Character Formatting buttons
(with the broom icon), to attempt to undo some application of a style.
Going back to default styles may also help.
T he other place to apply Paragraph Styles (but not Character Styles) is
in the Story Editor, where you can, paragraph by paragraph, apply
Line Styles
T here is only one place to apply a Line Style, in the Line tab of
Properties palette. Simply select your object, and choose the style
from the list. If it's a frame, the style is applied to the border.
Chances are, you have already seen the Edit button in the Style
Manager dialog.
1. Open the Style Manager with Edit > Styles.
2. Click on the style you wish to edit, then click the Edit button.
3. Make your changes, then click the Apply button, and your edits
are applied wherever that style is used. T his shows the dramatic
benefit from making use of styles in your workflow.
In case you might import text from ODT or HTML formats, you will
likely see that some new styles appear in your list. You may want to
check these styles and adjust as needed, or you may find you can
substitute some style you have created, then delete them.
1. Open the Style Manager.
2. Select a style, then click the Delete button. Alternatively, rightclick the style you wish to delete and choose Delete from the list
that appears.
3. You will have a choice here to substitute some other style for
the one you are deleting.
In case you haven't already seen the benefits gained from using styles,
you can also reuse styles you have created in some other document.
1. Open the Style Manager.
2. Select Import.
3. A file dialog appears, and you next choose the document file
from which you wish to import one or more styles.
4. Scribus presumes you will import all of them (not likely), but
simply uncheck the ones you wish to import to the current
5. In case you are importing a style with a name matching one
already in use, the default behavior will be to rename the
imported font, but you may choose to replace the existing font
of that name.
Note that if the imported style uses a color not in your palette, that
color will be imported as well.
T his chapter concerns information not needed by a new user, since it
is what we would consider advanced usage. Nonetheless, it is worth
reading through this chapter just so that you are aware of the
capabilities of Scripter.
A script in our sense here is a small program which allows you to
perform a series of operations in Scribus. T he script is a text file which
consists of a series of instructions, either in some highly automated
way, or perhaps dependent on user input as the script runs. Scripts
are especially useful for complex, repetitive tasks, especially when a
number of objects need to be created and manipulated in a
predictable pattern. You might create a basic layout and even add
content. Scripts might also take existing content and perform a series
of tedious actions on that content.
While you might simply use a script that someone else has written, you
can also adapt an existing script to your specific needs. In fact, this can
be a good way to introduce yourself to scripting, by modifying an
existing script bit by bit. On the Scribus wiki you can find a number of
Scripts for performing a variety of tasks you might have some
interest in. All you need to do is create a file and copy the script into
that file and save on your computer. Run the script by choosing from
the menu Scripts > Execute Script..., then selecting your script file.
In Scribus, scripts are written in the Python programming language,
and the script files should end in the extension .py, so your script file
might be You will not damage Scribus even with a poorly
written script, even though the script may fail to work or not work
Like any programming language, Python has a vocabulary and syntax,
and this takes some time to learn. Below you will see some resources
to help you about Python.
You should have a number of scripts included with your Scribus
program, and you will see these listed under Scripts > Scribus Scripts.
Autoquote – converts typewriter quotation marks to
typographical quotation marks, and adapts to your chosen
CalendarWizard – creates a calendar.
color2csv – save to a csv file a list of the colors used in your
ColorChart – creates a swatch from the colors in your
csv2color – imports a list of colors saved in a csv file.
DirectImageImport – creates an image frame and loads an image.
FontSample – creates a document listing the fonts on your
system with sample text.
importcsv2table – imports the colors from a csv file to a
created table.
InfoBox – creates a text or image frame filling the width of one
or more columns in a text frame. Loads an image if you wish.
You can modify these scripts according to your needs, the best
method being to make a copy which you then edit. You can find the
above scripts in:
Linux: /usr/share/scribus/scripts
Mac OSX:
Windows 7 : C:\Program Files\Scribus1.4\share\scripts\
Create a folder, perhaps named Scripts, then when you click Scripts >
Execute Script... you will know where to find them.
As stated above, the quickest and best way to find a variety of scripts
in on the Scribus wiki (, under the category
Scripts. Not only should you find the scripts themselves, but typically
instructions on using the script, such as whether you should have a
document open and perhaps some object selected, or whether the
script creates a document. T here often are hints to the particular
commands in a script and especially valuable is seeing the correct
sequence of commands to make some object with particular
For example, if you wanted to use the script from the wiki article
Adding 'DRAFT' to a Document,
First, open a plain text editor. An example is Gedit (which you can
get and install from
Go to the wiki article mentioned above.
Highlight the actual script from that article, copy, then paste to
Save the file with the name
T he script is now ready to use in Scribus.
Make sure you have a document open.
Scripts > Execute Script..., find the script on your system.
Once you click OK the word DRAFT appears on the page.
If you can't find a script that meets your needs, you can write your
own, or perhaps get someone who knows some Python programming
to make it for you.
On the other hand, you might be able to simply modify an existing
script, or combine features from two or more scripts already on the
wiki, once you understand which commands produce which results.
For example, let's say that instead of the word 'DRAFT ' you want the
At line 25 of your script is the command draft =
In front of the word draft type a # , which causes that line to be
ignored by Python.
Now at the beginning of line 27 , remove the # so that now draft
= 'BROUILLON' will be executed when the script runs.
Save file and run it again.
All we have shown in this section is a brief overview of scripting. Here
are some links which can get you started, and help when you get stuck
on some issue.
Introduction to Python syntax
Check the manual included with Scribus: under Help > Scribus Manual >
For Developers > Scripter, and also Scripter FAQ.
Some beginning Scribus Python scripts
Learning Python interactively
Official Python site
Python on Wikipedia
Python commands specific to Scribus
T his is in the manual included with Scribus, under Help > Scribus Manual
> For Developers > Scripter API
Getting human help!
Send a note to the Scribus mail list, where you might find your
question answered by the community of developers and users: . T o send a message to
the list, use this address: .
You can even discuss issues live on IRC, at, on the
# scribus channel. If you've never used an IRC client, you might try out
a link on the wiki site:
Both the mail list and # scribus have the appearance that they might
be English-only, but in case you struggle with English, there is typically
someone able to answer most European languages.
T his has nothing to do with Scripter, but we wanted to include in this
chapter some information on the Scribus file format. the SLA format,
like Scribus itself, is completely open, and in plain-text. It is similar to
XML, and for that matter HT ML, which you may be familiar with if
you've ever looked at the HT ML source with your browser. Because it
is plain text, you can easily edit the file directly in a plain text editor.
SLA: an editable format
You should have no trouble finding your Scribus files, especially if you
have followed our recommendations on organizing your projects, since
they end with the extension .sla. You might be concerned about doing
so, but feel free to open a file in a plain text editor. T ake some time
to notice the overall structure, which is quite complex even in small
project, but there are tags which identify the various parts of your
project, as well as the fonts used, styles, colors and so on.
In the example below we see a small section of a file where the color
palette is listed. We can see that there are two spot colors listed, a
PANT ONE 541C and PANT ONE 541C PALE. T his would result in adding
another color to the printing process, and of course an extra color
means extra time and expense. What we really wanted was to use
PANT ONE 541C each time but with 50% saturation in the second
instance. We can solve this quite easily by editing the file.
Below you can see how we have edited the file where the colors were
used. In the second line, we delete PALE from the color name, then edit
SHADE and SHADE2 values to 50 for our 50% saturation.
It is always good practice to make a copy of a file (save it under a
slightly different name), so that if you make some mistake you still
have the original. A badly edited file might not be able to be loaded by
Scribus, and you would get a message that the file is corrupt. Even so,
if necessary, you should be able to get help in fixing your file, if you
cannot fix it yourself.
As we have said before, Scribus is page layout software, not a word
processor or image manipulating software. While it's possible to edit
text, draw vector drawings, or do photo processing, your possibilities
will be limited compared with software dedicated to these tasks.
Optimally, you will want completed text and fully processed images
imported into Scribus for the most sensible workflow. By this method,
you will still also have the original source files for preservation
Much of the time, text will be written by those who have little or know
expertise with layout, and perhaps no knowledge of what the specific
layout will be. T hose who write for periodicals such as magazines or
newspapers will have no idea of how their work will be presented in
the layout, and probably no desire to know. T heir focus is on the
content, its accuracy, the prose, and whether a complete piece of work
has been created. T he editorial team will then make decisions about
the relevance of the material and whether their instructions to the
author have been carried out, even before the layout process begins.
T he designer's role will then be to take this text, partially organized or
not, and transform it as part of the layout process.
Scribus has the capability of working stylized text from a word
processor (such as MS Word,, LibreOffice, KWord,
Abiword, and so on), where the author will have the opportunity to
simulate to some extent the final appearance of the text. T his will
facilitate communication between the author and designer where styles
may affect the semantic content to some extent, but does complicate
the process of incorporating the text into Scribus.
An alternative is to use a plain text editor (such as MS Notepad, GEdit,
Kate, vi, and so on) which allows the author to literally focus on the
verbal content, and allows the graphic designer complete freedom of
decision-making regarding text styles.
How should you proceed?
You must have created a text frame before you can import text into
1. Create at least one frame. If you have created multiple frames
these can be linked before or after importing your text.
2. Select the initial frame, then
3. File > Import > Get text.
4. Scribus now brings up a file dialog, allowing you to navigate to
the proper folder to find your text file. You may restrict your
search to particular file types if this is useful. You may also
search All Files.
Note that when you click OK, your text is imported and at that point you
have lost any chance of selecting options at import. If you have made a
mistake, repeat the process to replace the text, with correct settings this
You may have noticed there is also a choice File > Import > Append text,
which works a bit differently.
Get text will import and replace any text already present in the
frame, though you will see a confirmation dialog if text is already
present. If you existing text links through several frames, all of
that text is replaced.
Append text will import the text, but append it at the end of the
text already contained in the frame or frames.
In case there is insufficient space in the frame for all the text, Scribus
will not create any new frames or pages automatically. It will show a
small square containing an X in the lower right hand corner of the
frame (indicating text overflow), but it is up to the user to take care of
the problem. Commonly, you will wish to pass the extra text into
another frame, either on the same page or another one.
1. Create a new text frame.
2. Select the frame where text overflows.
3. Click the Link Text Frames icon on the toolbar (keyboard shortcut
is N), then click the frame to link to.
4. T o link to a third or later frame, you must click the icon again,
then the next frame in the linkage.
5. T o break the linkage, then select the Unlink Text Frames icon (just
to the right of the Link Frames icon), then select the frame where
you wish the linkage to be broken.
6. It is possible that this unlinking in the middle may produce
undesired results. T he quickest way to recover would be to Undo
the unlinking.
Automatic Text Frames
An exception to the need to manually link frames occurs when you
choose Automatic Text Frames when you create your document. In that
case, when you create a new page, it will automatically contain a text
frame, and this will be linked to the previous page's text frame.
Plain text
When you save plain text from most editors and word processors, you
will see that the default extension for the file will be .txt, if this exists
as an option. Nonetheless, a plain text file can be saved with any
extension of the editor's choice, and in some cases might facilitate
recognition and handling of particular files.
An important characteristic of text files is the character encoding.
When computers first came about, there were only certain characters
available, but with time there has been an expansion to not only
include various characters for non-English, non-Latin languages, and
thus a great expansion in the need for new characters outside of the
original ASCII and Latin characters. Here are some selected examples.
System – this denotes the character set your computer is using
for various tasks, including default saving of text in files.
UT F8 and UT F16 – these are the most comprehensive character
sets available, and will be able to handle almost all written
languages, plus many other special characters. It is recommended
to use one of these whenever possible.
ISO-8859-1 – T his can be adequate, and is a commonly used
encoding on many systems, particularly when you are working
only with Latin languages.
Apple Roman – T his is a standard specific to some kinds of
software running the Mac OS.
HTML format
HT ML has become ubiquitous, of course, due to its use on web pages.
T he format and its changes are managed by the World Wide Web
Consortium (W3C), and we now see than many word processors can
import and export this format. T he difference from plain text is the
ability to specify features of the styles and layout of the text, which
can be useful when editors are interacting with page designers.
T here are actually several versions of HT ML, and Scribus is able to
manage to some degree all of them. What Scribus can handle are tags
such as <p> (paragraph), <b> (bold), <i> (italics), and various header
styles. It will not be able to handle tags which specify particular fonts,
or CSS in general. T ags which Scribus cannot handle are ignored. You
should adhere to specific HT ML standards to get the best results with
importing into Scribus.
Scribus works with HT ML as follows:
It will import all textual material on a page. T his would include
not only the main body of text, but any menus and sidebars on
the page. T herefore, you may want to consider editing the HT ML
before import so that it only contains the text you're interested
For each header style, Scribus creates a style internally, prefixed
with html_ (for example, html_h1). T his is mostly a place holder so
as not to replace any existing styles, so therefore you will likely
need to edit this style to get the look you desire.
Here you can see something of the work entailed in editing HT ML after
import to Scribus. Although it may look like you have created links in
your Scribus document, all that has happened is that a character style
has been created which is blue and underlined.
OpenDocument T ext format was developed as an open and freely
usable way to save text along with all of its formatting features, and
used by, LibreOffice, KOffice, and other word
processors. It is a recognized ISO standard, unlike various proprietary
formats, such as DOC. You will have the greatest flexibility and results
importing this format to Scribus.
When you import an ODT file into Scribus, you will have some options:
Overwrite Paragraph Styles – in case there is a name conflict with
an ODT file and one in Scribus, this will overwrite Scribus's style
with that from the imported text. Observe caution in choosing
this option if you have already begun to make styles in Scribus.
Merge Paragraph Styles – if more than one style in the ODT
document have the same properties, Scribus will merge these
into a single style. Occasionally, it might turn out there is some
semantic reason for having two otherwise identical styles with
different names, so consider that possibility.
Use document name as a prefix for paragraph styles – this should
be of some help to avoid accidentally overwriting a Scribus style
from the ODT file.
Do not ask again – if you check this, you'll have to remember
how to get the default back again, since you won't see this
requester until you do. In your .scribus directory, you will find a
file named prefs140.xml, and inside that under the plugins, there
is a context name OdtIm. You will see that the variable (key) is
called AskAgain, and that when this value is 1, you will be asked
When the document is imported, paragraph styles are created, added
to your list of styles, then applied to the text. For character styles,
none are created in Scribus, but the formatting changes corresponding
to the style should be applied where needed.
Because of various issues with the implementation of ODT import as it
currently exists, it is difficult to make any categorical
recommendations, but here are some particular bits of advice which
some would make:
It is not necessary for the author of the text to bother with
making styles, and to some extent perhaps counterproductive.
You will merely add the additional work of making sure styles
have been properly imported and other changes applied where
needed. Perhaps better to apply styles in Scribus, as long as you
have a draft print of the ODT document to properly create and
apply styles where they are needed.
Some prefer plain text, and then will apply styles as they see fit
within Scribus.
DOC format
Doc files are proprietary, which means that you cannot without
permission from Microsoft make an application which make use of the
internal structure of these files. Scribus cannot itself import files saved
in the native Word format. For this task, Scribus uses a small utility
called antiword which will allow importation of DOC files. T he Windows
version of Scribus has antiword automatically installed; for other
versions you will need to get this utility yourself.
When you import such a file, all styles and formatting will be lost. In
addition, you must check the text carefully after import, since in some
cases blank lines or extra digits may appear at various locations.
An alternative and more reliable method would be to import your DOC
file into OpenOffice or LibreOffice, then export as something more
suitable for Scribus, such as ODT , HT ML, or plain text.
Note that DOCX files are not supported, yet this should also be able
to be imported by LibreOffice.
Importing images is very common in layout. T o be sure, some types of
publishing, such as novels and to a lesser extent scientific publishing,
may have little or no use for images. In most common situations,
including photos or bitmapped or vector graphics is essential.
Scribus can import a number of different photo image formats, even
though some of these may not be suitable for high quality layout and
printing. T he list of useful formats we have already mentioned the list
of useful formats in Preparing your sources, but here we will discuss
specific features of each to help you choose those appropriate for
your work.
Importing is done, just as with text, with the use of a frame, in this
case an Image frame, obtained by selecting Insert > Insert Image Frame
from the menu, or by converting some other kind of frame, with Item
> Convert to > Image Frame. Copying and pasting pictures will
absolutely not work – instead, File > Import > Get image, or from the
context menu, Get image.
In the Image tab of Properties you can adjust the dimensions of the
image in the frame in two ways – either by selecting Scale to Frame
Size (and perhaps choosing Proportional so as not to distort the image),
or selecting Free Scaling, to manually manage the size and position of
the image in the frame.
T his will be a commonly used format in layout, with a file extension of
.jpg or .jpeg. Digital cameras typically save in this format as their
default, even though others may be available. T he reason this became
the case was that the compression of the images allows for efficient
use of memory in the camera. Similarly, this is a useful feature for
images on websites.
T he downside of this image compression is a loss of detail in the
image, and furthermore, this is a so-called lossy format, since data is
lost forever in the process of saving to JPEG. Generally speaking, the
higher the compression (smaller the file), the greater the loss of detail,
and the lower the quality of the image. T his may not be noticeable on
your monitor, but might be when the image is printed.
Importing JPEG to Scribus should occur without any issues. Note that
converting a JPEG to some other format will not improve its quality.
PNG, on the other hand, is a better alternative as a compressed
format, since it is a lossless format, so that image data is not lost,
even though the size of the files will be somewhat larger than JPEG. An
additional feature is that PNG images can have an alpha channel,
allowing for partial transparency and some other image effects. Gimp
in particular can create transparencies, fading, and many other effects.
All photo editing software can handle PNG images for both opening
and saving.
T IFF is one of the oldest image file formats, and is used extensively for
high quality printed images. Not all T IFF images are high quality – for
example, fax machines make T IFF images for their purposes. T he high
quality comes at the price of sometimes making very large files,
perhaps the main drawback of this format.
Because of its long history of use, there is an interesting feature not
possible with PNG, clipping paths. T hese are vector paths used to
delimit parts of an image for some special effects and can be done
with Gimp and other editing software. T he use of clipping will be
discussed in the chapter on Text flow and typography.
PSD is the native file format of Photoshop. T his format is proprietary,
and owned by Adobe, who have kept some specifications of the
format secret since version 7 . Scribus can import PSD files, but will fail
with newer features introduced after this version. T hat having been
said, Scribus can handle such features as layers and their visibility,
transparency, as well as blending modes. T his can be useful to alter
the intensity of a shadow or even hide certain elements in the image.
Once the image is imported, layers can be accessed by the Extended
Image Properties dialog, which you should see available through the
context menu or Properties > Image.
SVG, EPS, and AI formats
Programs such as Inkscape and Adobe Illustrator work natively with
vector drawings. Vector drawings, in contrast to bitmap drawings
which describe an array of colored pixels, consist of mathematical
descriptions of lines, whether straight or curved, which therefore will
retain sharp contours even under high magnification.
In order to import a vector drawing, you do not have to use a
1. Click on a part of the page so that no item is selected – the
reason for doing this is that some formats, such as EPS, can be
imported into an image frame, but in that case, they will be
converted to bitmap.
2. From the menu, select File > Import > Get Vector File.
3. You will only have the features which your Scribus installation can
support. Select a vector file from the choices you have available.
4. T he mouse cursor transforms to something resembling a page
or scroll, with a plus sign (+). Click the place on the page where
you wish to place the upper left corner of the vector drawing.
5. Often, you will see that the size is too large or too small, and
perhaps placement not what you really wanted, but you can
easily resize your drawing and adjust its precise placement.
Most likely, your vector drawing actually consists of a Group of
individual components, which if desired can be ungrouped (Item >
Ungroup once or more times) so that each element can be adjusted or
edited as desired.
Any colors in the vector drawing will automatically be imported to your
color palette, but of course can be changed according to your needs.
SVG was originally proposed by Adobe, and is now officially enabled
by W3C. Many kinds of software and even some browsers can natively
handle SVG files, and the specification continues to expand from the
efforts of Illustrator and Inkscape. Although it has been criticized for
not including CMYK, Scribus can manage both conversions from and to
CMYK, and also process and spot colors, so you should have no
concerns about color fidelity.
If some text is included in your SVG, it is good to vectorize your fonts
for best results. Alternatively, and perhaps even preferably, leave all
text out of (or delete from) the SVG and make your text within
EPS, or Encapsulated PostScript, came some time after PostScript but
before PDF format was introduced. T he specifications have not
changed since 2001, and consequently it is less used than in the past,
but there is no reason to avoid or discard such files since Scribus can
handle them faithfully. You may find many logos in this format. If
possible, you may wish to convert EPS to SVG or AI mainly in the
interests of securing the ability to import it to other software.
AI is the native format for Adobe Illustrator. Because of that, it is
widely in use, but since it is proprietary, there can be some issues with
certain features which may not be supported outside of Illustrator.
Scribus has only partial support, but it's usually worth a try to import
into Scribus first rather than convert to SVG.
As currently implemented in Scribus, tables can be considered a special
instance of text frames. T hey are somewhat literally a matrix of text
frames. T here is now some ability to import Excel or CSV files, but this
is limited. T here also is some ability to deal with cell and overall
borders, but frankly in a less than optimal way. Because these are
individual frames, however, it is possible to convert individual cells to,
for example, image frames, which could have some use in your layout.
Because of the various limitations, you may want to consider
bypassing tables altogether, and make tables with the following
1. Create your table in Calc (OpenOffice or LibreOffice). If you have
Excel data in a file, open in one of these other programs.
2. Select the portion of the table you wish to use, and make a
3. Go to File > New > Drawing.
4. In the file window, select Edit > Paste Special, then choose the
option which begins with Calc in the dialog.
5. Now select File > Export.
6. From the format choices, select EPS.
7 . Once you save the file, then import this EPS to Scribus.
T he reason for doing this is that you will find that there is much
greater ease in making various adjustments and settings in Calc than in
the T ables environment in Scribus.
We now approach the core of Scribus. T he ability to handle advanced
features of typography is an absolute essential requirement of
professional-quality DT P, and an area where Scribus excels.
First of all, we would point out that you will find an array of settings
available in the Properties palette, and some additional features
elsewhere, such as in the Styles Editor, and you should consider these
complementary to each other for your needs.
Text as a process
Consider that page layout is a carefully arranged display or staging of
your content. First, you wish to capture the eye of your reader, then
guide him through the page in an organized way. If organization is
lacking, if there is no cohesive idea to the layout, the reader has
trouble grasping the content and quickly loses interest. Loss of interest
means you have lost the message you were trying to transmit.
T his is why there is a certain hierarchy to text. T his doesn't mean
there is a static structure that you use every time, but the designer
nonetheless creates some sort of order in the way that the text is
handled and presented. Here we are not going to make a case for
some particular pattern or choices, but rather discuss the various
choices you have available to you within Scribus.
Below is a list of various choices which might occur in publications.
While it's not so likely to use all of these in any given design, typically a
number of these will be used. If you look at various publications at
your disposal, you should see many of these in action.
Body text
Photo or illustration legends
T itles and subtitles
Indented text
Bulleted lists
Numbered lists
What you will find is that each of these categories has certain
typographic characteristics. Your job as designer is to determine these
various attributes. T his isn't a matter of having some predetermined
formula, yet as we have said, there must be a hierarchy in the
appearance. For example, the title should be prominent have some
punch to it to grab the reader. T itles and subtitles should offer some
interesting contrast from the headlines. You can't necessarily consider
the text in a strictly linear way, to be read top to bottom, start to
finish, but rather allow for the reader to capture some context, and
the typographic features guiding him along. You may use color,
contrast, shadows, and even white space, hopefully in subtle ways, to
keep the reader's interest.
T he areas of body text are the quiet areas of the layout, which
promote ease of reading without leading to visual fatigue. Headings,
titles, and illustrations and captions function to help break up the
monotony of the text and keep the reader's interest.
What follows are the various aspects of your typographic palette.
Consider them to be the contents of your toolbox to showcase your
text. T ry not to remain in your comfort zone, but experiment with all
of them so that you become familiar with their implementation.
The drop cap
Drop caps will be something of a show piece of your layout. T he
reader's eye will be drawn to this large first letter of a paragraph,
which will likely be bold, and may even have a different typeface and
color from the body text. While there are ways to artificially create
drop caps, the most convenient way is to create this as part of a
paragraph style. Simply check Drop Caps, then select the number of
lines you wish the drop cap to cover. Adjust Distance from T ext as
desired. Since this paragraph style applies to the entire paragraph, if
you wish to change the font or its color only for the drop cap, you will
need to do this from the Properties palette by highlighting letter and
A recommendation to consider is that in addition you edit the
remainder of the first word of the paragraph so that it is in small caps.
In the case of the first word being an article such as A or T he, then
also make the next word small caps. T he Properties palette has a
setting for small caps, but a few fonts will also have a small caps style,
the more preferable alternative. Note the difference in the examples
A final note of caution about drop caps – don't overuse them. Do not
use your drop cap style in every paragraph of body text, maybe only
the first paragraph of a multiparagraph or multipage article. For this
reason make a separate modified version with drop caps of your main
body text paragraph style, so you apply it sparingly.
Ligatures are a special glyph combining certain combinations of
adjacent letters, such as "œ" for example. In order to use these, you
must have these special glyphs in your chosen typeface. While they can
be entered directly if your keyboard allows, if you know the Unicode
value, press Ctrl+Shift+U, then enter the 4-digit Unicode number (such
as 00e6 for œ). Otherwise, you can from the menu Insert > Glyph, then
find your glyph by that method. Once you find it, notice that Scribus
shows a tooltip with the Unicode value you might use the next time.
Old style numerals, typically set below the baseline, are an
uncommon glyph, so therefore you must see whether your chosen
font includes these. From the menu, Insert > Glyph.
T he settings for superscripts and subscripts are found in File >
Preferences > Typography. Here you have two settings, one for
displacement, the other for percentage scaling of the letter or number.
T here is only one setting allowed for each, so that this will be applied
globally for all instances.
Quotes and apostrophes require special attention. T hese are not the
similar characters which you might enter from your keyboard, but
rather, specific typographic curved forms. T here are specific left and
right versions, and each language uses its own versions of these. If you
are importing an ODT file, for example, these conversions may have
already been made. Otherwise, you should convert these with Insert >
Quote, where you will see the full range of possible choices. T here is
also an included script, Autoquote, which you may find useful for
automatically converting typewriter quotes to typographical quotes.
Typographical spaces
If you look at the list which you see with Insert > Space, you may be
surprised at the large number of different choices you have for
something as "simple" as a space. T wo which are commonly in use are
thin spaces and non-breaking spaces. When you want thin spaces,
unfortunately this is a manual operation, where you must insert each,
one at a time. You might use this as a manual form of
For non-breaking spaces, you have a powerful tool at your disposal,
which you can apply with Extras > Short Words. Before using it, you
should check File > Preferences > Short Words, where under your
chosen language you will find a list of short words or abbreviations
which will be searched for and the rule applied, such as in the French
examples below. For example, if "Dr. " is encountered, the plugin
ensures that a non-breaking space is placed between the title and the
person's name, so these are not inadvertently separated by a line
break. Similarly, a number followed by " kg" would not separate the
number and its units.
T he structure of the list is that each entry must be followed by a
comma, and furthermore must include a space which will indicate
where the non-breaking space is to be placed. T herefore, we see a
space after Dr., and a space before kg. If you don't agree with any of
these you can change them, but don't forget to save your edits. You
can of course also choose not to apply this plugin with Extras > Short
If you do make what you consider important changes in this file in
Preferences, you might share this on so that
others might make the same modifications.
Alignment and justification
T here are 5 kinds of justification or alignment in Scribus. Just below the
button for linespacing are the icon buttons for selecting your
alignment, mostly intuitive, except for the fifth one, which we will
explain here. You may select justification either in Properties > Text or in
Edit > Styles, or in Story Editor.
Left alignment – this is suitable for titles and headings.
Right alignment – might be used for an author's name after a block
of text.
Justification – this refers to arranging the letters on the lines of
paragraphs so that they fill the line edge to edge. In printing, we may
describe justification according to the width of a column, for example,
we might say that the text is justified for x picas. T he icon for full
justification depicts how the text fills the lines to the left and right
edges, with the exception of the last line, which aligns either to the left
or right, depending on the direction appropriate for a given language.
T his is the typical method used for magazines and newspapers, and
allows for easy legibility and readability. Columns of text have
something of a visual monotony, which helps one see the information
in blocks highlighted by the titles or headings. We can also appreciate
that from full justification comes the term typographical gray, to
refer to a sense of the overall darkness or grayness of a block of text.
T hus these areas of visual calm and gray appearance allow the
headings and graphics to stand out and capture our attention.
T he three examples below illustrate uses of full justification. Notice
that in the example where there is no indentation that extra space is
created between paragraphs – this can only be achieved with the
creation of Paragraph Styles, which is only possible through the Style
Editor. In addition, indentation or hanging indentation can only be
created with Paragraph Styles in the Style Editor.
Three variants using justified text
T o obtain a hanging indentation such as in the last example
(Composition en sommaire), you must first indent the body of the
paragraph some positive value, then indent the first line of the
paragraph some negative amount, whose absolute value is no greater
than the indentation of the body.
It is essential to familiarize yourself with these various settings, so that
you can combine them as needed to achieve your desired effect. For
example, in situations where you may place a quote or summary in a
block of text, you may wish to set apart with some extra space before and
after the paragraph.
T he fifth choice, forced justification, is something of a trap for some
people. In this case, even the last line of your paragraph is fully
justified, created a solid rectangular block of text. T his might be used
for some special effect, but rarely used in practice.
Numbered list, bulleted lists
Scribus has facility for creating lists, but this must be set up manually,
using a Paragraph Style. T he example below required setting four
parameters: setting two tabs, indentation of the first line, and further
indentation of the body of the paragraph. Details follow the graphic.
T o accomplish this, first add two tabs for the number (in edit contents
mode, you can simply click in the colored ruler space). Next, open the
style editor (Edit > Styles), and modify the first tab to be a right tab,
so that the numbers align properly. T hen set the text body indentation
for proper alignment. You will likely need to play with settings to get
the look you wish. You can create multilayered lists by adding new
styles, as shown below.
For bulleted lists, you will use a bullet glyph instead of numbers.
Choose one from a symbol font.
T he traditional printing term for linespacing is leading, since it involved
adding lead spacers to achieve the desired alignment. Scribus has three
linespacing modes.
Fixed linespacing uses a specific width which can be set by the user,
and remains constant regardless of font size.
Automatic linespacing adjusts the space according to the size of the
font. T he default setting for this is 120% of the font size, but this can
be adjusted in File > Preferences > Typography. Notice that this setting
is actually what will be added to 100%. Because of the variability of the
result according to font size, professionals typically do not use this
type of spacing.
Align to Baseline Grid is a setting you will find in File > Preferences >
Guides, in the lower right corner of the dialog. T his is a document-wide
setting, which forces text alignment for all frames on all pages where it
is used for the chosen font or style. T here is only one possible setting
for an entire document.
In the example below you see the baseline grid, which you can show or
hide with View > Show Baseline Grid, and see that the body text aligns
to the grid. In contrast, the heading style is not set to align to the Grid,
so you can expect to make some adjustments for proper spacing
above and below. What this demonstrates is the flexibility you have
combining font sizes and styles.
T he setting Default width for space will adjust the space between
groups of words. When used in a heading, it can reduce excessive
space and thus emphasize the contrast for the title. in the body of a
paragraph can adjust the typographical gray appearance, or adjust for
widow and orphan lines.
Tracking is used for fine-tuning the space between individual letters,
perhaps even just two particular letters. It is commonly used in large
size headings, where the space which was designed for a much smaller
font size becomes distorted as one enlarges the font. Once you use
font sizes greater than 16 points, this will become more obvious.
T he above example shows text in Liberation Sans Bold 80 pts. On top,
automatic linespacing at 120% was used, and no adjustments were
made to between word and between letter spacing. T he bottom
version shows an adjustment to fixed linespacing of 7 3 pts, and the
default width for space adjusted to -5%. Bringing this to a overall
more compact appearance causes a greater emphasis of this text.
T o adjust tracking, go to Properties > Text > Advanced Settings and look
for the icon prominently showing AV. T he correct setting is what you
find most pleasing in appearance, and therefore is highly subjective.
Beware that settings that work best on a particular font at a particular
size cannot be generalized for other fonts and other sizes, so each
time you must again adjust to your preference.
T o use Default width for space you will typically be highlighting text
you wish to adjust.
For Tracking you will be more likely placing the cursor between two
letters, since this is usually used only where needed, and as much as
needed in each place.
Multilingual documents: what can and can't Scribus do?
It's certainly possible to create documents with a mixture of languages,
not just on the same page but even in the same frame. T here are
some limitations, however, which we indicate below.
Although there is support for right-to-left languages, Scribus has
severe problems with Arabic. Individual glyphs can certainly be
entered into a text frame using an appropriate font, but the
problem comes down to various ligature glyphs and termination
lines, and this has not yet been resolved.
Other languages written right to left can also be managed, but
Scribus may not appropriately handle diacritical marks.
T herefore make some tests before beginning some large
document with such languages.
Indic languages have complex changes which occur with certain
letter sequences and combinations, and therefore also are not
yet supported.
Some good news is that languages using the Cyrillic alphabet
such as Russian, nor are there problems with Slavic and other
eastern European languages which use an extended Latin
Vietnamese (Tiếng Việt), because of its many diacritics, can present
some problems, but Scribus should be able to handle this southeast
Asian language, since it is written with a modified Latin character set.
The main issue will be having these glyphs in your chosen font, so some
testing is necessary to avoid problems.
Af rican languages which use a Latin alphabet should pose no
difficulties with Scribus. Here again, one must make sure that a chosen
font can appropriately handle the required glyphs. With OTF fonts, it
may be possible to add certain necessary glyphs if you have the
appropriate software, and the font license allows you to do so.
In any of the situations where you may reach a roadblock as indicated
above, you may be able to create a workaround with a word
processor which can manage these languages, then create a PDF or
other image file which you can use in Scribus. T his is certainly not ideal,
but may represent the only practical approach.
In some cases, you may be creating a document in several language
versions, with no two languages being present in the same version.
Here you have two ways of managing this. T he first would be to make
a copy, then replace the original text with the text using the new
language, and thus you create more than one document.
T he other possibility if you have thought about it ahead, is to place
the different languages each on their own layer but duplicating layers,
then changing the text on the cloned layer. When you are ready to
create the PDF, make only the desired layer visible and printable as
you export.
It's also worth noting here that the Scribus interface has been
translated to 40 languages, and the number continues to grow.
Some African languages which Scribus can manage
T amajaq
T ubu
and some others
Various Indo-European languages Scribus can manage
and many others
Automatic page numbering
Scribus can insert page numbers automatically. T o do this in the
recommended way, you should create a Master Page (Edit > Master
Page). Insert a text frame and position where you want your page
number to be. Go to Edit Contents mode by clicking the icon on the
toolbar (the one with a capital A and a cursor beside it), or simply
double-click inside the frame. Now Insert > Character > Page Number
Now choose the font and its size, color and any other settings, plus
add any other text you wish to accompany the number, for example
the name of the publication. If needed, you can then copy the Master
Page and modify for right or left pages. Close the dialog and the page
number will appear on every page where that Master Page is used.
Hyphenation of words might be completely avoided for some kinds of
publications. However, if you are using full justification, you may not be
able to avoid large white spaces between words without hyphenation,
thus breaking up the smooth typographical gray appearance you
would like to achieve. You will find the reader's eye is irresistibly drawn
to these white spaces, disrupting the flow of reading the text. Unless
they are excessive, usually hyphenation poses less problem with
smooth reading than large spaces within a line. T herefore, most
publications use hyphenation to some extent.
T o use hyphenation, first go to File > Preferences > Hyphenation and
Spelling. You should leave the boxes Hyphenation Suggestions and
Hyphenate Automatically During Typing unchecked, to avoid dialogs
repeatedly coming up and changes needing to be made. In contrast,
the other selections about hyphenation language, smallest word to
hyphenate, and limitations on the number of consecutive lines to be
hyphenated should be edited to your needs.
T he hyphenation language speaks for itself. In general, the smallest
word to hyphenate might be 5 or 6 letters for most uses, but in a
column of text which is quite wide or in a small amount of text you
might increase this to 7 to 10. T he number of consecutive lines to
hyphenate is again straightforward, and should be adjusted to the
context of your layout.
Something else worth knowing is that Scribus does not include
hyphenation settings in Paragraph Styles. It might seem that this
means that you cannot use different settings for different frames in a
document, but it is possible, albeit a bit challenging. Once hyphenation
has been applied to a given frame, it will not change even though you
might subsequently change settings in Preferences. T he main problem
can be coordinating the settings for the different frames. If you might
subsequently undo hyphenation then set it again, or edit text in a
previously hyphenated frame, current settings will be applied. Although
this can create its own difficulties, at least the method can be adapted.
It's also possible to add exceptions to hyphenation as you like in the
Preferences settings.
Once you have your rules and settings, you then apply those rules for
your frames with Extras > Hyphenate Text.
Widows and Orphans
Late in your production workflow is when you can begin to tackle
problems such as widows and orphans, those fragments at the head
(widow) or foot (orphan) of some page or column.
T he reason for waiting until some late stage is that you want to have
accomplish most if not all of your text edits, since widow and orphans
may come and go as you add or change text. Sometimes even a very
small change in text produces dramatic changes in layout of the text.
In the end, you have little to gain by rushing this stage.
Scribus does not automatically manage widows and orphans, yet it has
all the tools you need to deal with them. Depending on the type of
publication, you might use coarser or finer adjustments to bring a
widow to the previous column or send an orphan to the next. If your
document is in a journal, where the life of the information is short,
appearance may be less critical than in a book or other publication
designed for a long time of use.
First, check to see that text has been already been handled
reasonably well, hyphenation applied, so that you don't have big
white spaces or white space rivers anywhere. Fix the
typographical gray before dealing with widows and orphans.
Next, check the text before and after widow and orphan
problems, looking for places where either adjusting tracking or
white space between words might have the least impact.
However this is done, the goal is to maintain the desired
typographical gray appearance – no sense in solving one
problem by creating another. Selecting a paragraph which has
the least amount text on the last line, use tracking and space
adjustment between words to eliminate that short ending line.
If this is unsuccessful, other methods should be used but with
great restraint. Under Properties > Text > Advanced Settings,
decrease the width of characters, perhaps no more than 1 to 2%
less. For a paragraph-sized amount of text, even such small
changes should affect length of lines yet not be noticeable by
the reader.
In case you don't wish to go as far as changing the scaling of the
glyphs, then add an empty line to move an orphan to the next
column or page. T his empty white space will be less distracting
than the orphan. Add a carriage return or page break before the
Do not adjust the linespacing except as a last resort. Although
newspapers sometimes use this method, this is quite
unacceptable in a book. You would have to unselect Align to
Baselne Grid in order to accomplish this.
Edit the text content. T his can work well if it is acceptable to the
Add or adjust graphical elements or adjust captions and borders.
See if there are headings which might be split into two lines to
push the orphan. Conversely, reduce a two-line heading to one in
the case of a widow.
Finally, work on the white space. Perhaps the space above or
below a heading can be adjusted in their styles with space before
and after paragraphs. T he total of both should match the
leading value.
Text in an irregular space
Your creativity has few bounds with Scribus. T ext frames can take any
shape, and thus are not required to be rectangular. T his will be
discussed in Advanced Typography. Before moving on to that
chapter, realize that Scribus has many more options up its sleeve. You
can create shapes then use them as text frames. First, insert a shape
or polygon (Insert > Insert Shape or Insert > Insert Polygon), then from
the menu choose Item > Convert to ... > Text frame. Afterward, insert
text. You can even insert text into a large letter shape by creating a
large letter, then Convert to ... > Outlines, then Convert to ... > Text
Frame, then inserting text. For the best results, choose the size of the
original letter as well as the size of the text carefully. Once you see
such examples, the possibilities are endless.
For best results in this second example, you might consider making the
border color None.
Text on a path
T o complete this introduction to text capabilities with Scribus, here is
a simple effect with infinite variations – Scribus can put a attach a line
of text to a path. Begin by making a text frame with a small amount
of text. Now create a Bezier curve of some arbitrary shape. (See the
Glossary for more information on Bezier curves.) With Shift held down,
select the text frame, then the curve, so that both are selected. Finally,
select Item > Attach Text to Path from the menu, and the results are
automatic. What could be more simple than that?
What's more, you can edit the text or the curve even after they are
combined. T o edit the text you can use Story Editor. T o edit the
shape, select the path, then from Properties > Shape select Edit.
T his brings up the following dialog to edit the shape.
Now edit as you wish, then when finished, click End Editing.
By default, frames in Scribus have a rectangular shape. T his is what
you want in most cases, and is well-adapted to creating a structured
composition. T hus, one can easily place text and images side-by-side.
If you wish to increase the dynamism of the layout, frames can be
made to overlap:
You may add a text frame to highlight some point.
You may select some text, then place it in a separate frame for
You wish to put the image inside the space where text already
What you find in these cases, is that the new frame is on top of text
content, and what you really want is for the text to flow around the
frame, which may have an irregular shape.
Except for special cases, text flow is applied to the object, image, text,
or geometric shape, which is overlying the text – on some level above
the text.
Enabling text flow
Remember, this is applied to the object above the text which must
flow around, so select that upper level object. Now, in the Properties
palette, select the Shape tab.
Your four options:
Use Frame Shape uses the boundaries of the frame you created
in the object.
Use Bounding Box will be the same as the Frame Shape for an
unrotated rectangle, but in the case of an irregular shape or
rotated rectangle, the Bounding Box delimits the horizontal and
vertical boundaries of all the elements of the object, including
control points.
Use Contour Line uses an editable shape which initially is the
same as the frame shape.
Use Image Clip Path uses the clipping path of an image, when one
exists. Not only must the path exist, but it must have been
activated in the Extended Properties of the image.
Since it's important to apply text flow to a frame on a higher level, it's
important to remember that as you add frames, they are placed on a
level above the last frame created.
Here we see in this small part of the XYZ tab of Properties how to
adjust the level of an object. T he left up and down arrows shift by one
level, the right arrows either all the way to the top or to the bottom.
T he number beside the arrows indicates the level of the selected
object, 1 being the lowest level.
Adding space around an image
By default, text flow would be immediately against the edge of the
image or text frame, but in most cases you will want some "breathing
room", such as you see in the example page above.
1. Click Edit in the Shape tab. You should then see blue dots appear
at the corners to mark the Nodes.
2. Select Edit Contour Line at the bottom of the dialog.
3. Adjust the spinbox with the percentage (10% here), to your
desired amount of change in size.
4. Now click the button to increase the size of the contour line –
the tooltip for the button says, Enlarge the Size of the Path by
shown %. T he button shows a rectangle with arrows pointing
outward. If you wish you can repeat clicking to get the effect you
need, then click End Editing.
If you are going to use a border for your frame as you see here, you
will want to add some space above and to the left of the text inside
the frame. Go to Properties > Text > Columns and Text Distances, and
adjust the distances as needed.
Add a caption
Scribus doesn't yet support text flow around a group of objects. If
you want text to flow around an image, then add a caption to the
image, here are a couple of work around methods:
Place a transparent text frame behind the image, then set text
flow around the new frame, positioning the image over it to get
your desired effect.
Place a frame inside the image frame, enlarging the image frame
so that the caption is inside any border. You may have to disable
Adjust Image to Frame to do this.
You may notice that when you attempt to change the size of the
contour line that the desired effect doesn't take place. In this case,
Undo your edits and make sure you have checked Edit Contour Line in
the Edit dialog. Also check to make sure you have selected Use Contour
Line for the text flow setting.
Should you wish to change the shape of frames, this is accomplished
with the buttons in the upper part of the Edit Shape dialog. T he
functions here are complex and require some practice to master, but
here is some information to get you started.
T he first button in the top row allows you to move the nodes
(blue dots), and you can do this directly with the mouse, or in the
X-Pos and Y-Pos spinboxes lower down in the dialog.
T he second button allows you to add nodes to the shape.
T he third allows deletion of nodes.
T he first button in the second row allows for editing of control
points for the nodes. Control points with be colored pink and
adjust the line between nodes so that it curves between them.
More information about editing shapes can be found in the online
manual that comes with Scribus.
Whenever you narrow a column of text you run the risk of the various
problems pointed out in the chapter on T ypography. Refer to that
chapter where the possible ways of adjusting your text are covered in
Sooner or later, anyone who works with layout and the graphical
workflow will become concerned about the color rendering of a
document once it is actually printed. You need to become familiar with
the constraints which your document is under, depending on the
format in which it will be published, and what sorts of problems may
surface during printing. In order to minimize various problems, usage
of color management is advised. T his involves a series of steps, in an
attempt to limit variability in anticipation of expected problems. At the
core of color management are color profiles, commonly known as ICC
profiles, which aim to act as a bridge between color spaces.
In Scribus, color management is accessible via File > Preferences > Color
Management for global changes to act as your defaults, and through
File > Document Settings > Color Management to be applied only to the
currently open document.
T he colors of the bitmap or vector image file are the initial source of
color data. In photography, the camera is responsible for transmitting
the information about the profile along with the image. If a scanned
image is used, the scanner will supply this information. For a vector
image, the software which created the vector image should include this
information in the file. We can see the complexity created when we
begin with a photograph from a camera (one profile), which is then
printed (a second profile), then scanned (a third profile). Profile
management is usually designed to preserve the profile of the original
source document.
RGB is ubiquitous
One of the reasons for this is that it allows for a very large range of
colors to be represented, thus permitting a finely tuned adjustment of
color. In some cases, CMYK may be preferred, especially when this is
known to be the final output of the publishing process.
It is also possible, for example when utilitizing a scanner, to create your
own custom profiles, in order to have greater control over the final
results. T here is a methodology to this, and it requires special
equipment and expertise to be done properly.
Profiles in Scribus
In Scribus, the profiles are managed in the Preferences Color
Management tab as shown above. For RGB images, for example, there
is a drop-down list of choices for standard certified profiles that will
be applied to images which do not include a profile. Scribus supports
CMYK profiles in the same way, allowing a choice of various ISO
standard profiles, or a custom profile if you prefer.
T he simplest way to add your own profiles is to place them where
your operating system automatically stores them. For Windows, this is
\Windows\System32\spool\drivers\color. Mac users can either use the
share directory /Library/ColorSync/Profiles, or for those who do not
have administrator rights,
/Users/<username>/LIbrary/ColorSync/Profiles. On Linux distributions
the directory is either /usr/share/color/icc, or for those without
administrator rights /home/<username>/.color/icc. In these directories,
ICC profiles will be automatically loaded when you launch Scribus.
Ideally, for the best color control, working on screen should include
color calibration of the display of your monitor. By definition, this is
the RGB colorspace, and demonstrates why having the proper ICC
profiles is so important.
Calibration is accomplished with the use of hardware to read the
display and software to make adjustments. T he method will generate
a profile specific for the particular monitor in its particular
environment – the brightness of the workspace is also a factor. T his
profile is then applied to the monitor. Scribus, for its part, allows
selection of this profile in the Monitor setting in Preferences. By
default, the profile of the manufacturer would be applied, if available.
How the profile is used
Monitor profiles are not intended to override the embedded ICC
profile of an image, but rather to adjust the display in order to
represent most accurately the actual colors of the objects in the
image. T ypically the standard white of a monitor will be too bright.
T he colors and brightness of the room around us will also affect us,
depending on whether it might be a sunny or cloudy day. T hus, trying
to keep the workspace environment a neutral gray color can be
important for consistent work.
Scribus has chosen to distinguish image profiles from color profiles.
T his makes it possible to utilize more ambitious bitmap RGB profiles
while the user focuses on a different RGB profile better suited to the
demands of layout and print (in text and shapes, for example).
Just as there are two drop down menus for choosing profiles for RGB
and CMYK images, there are two for RGB and CMYK solid colors in the
Color Management dialog in Preferences. T he first would be used for
output intended for the screen or web, and the latter for actual
printing on paper.
Profiles will hardly be useful unless you have a way to simulate the
document as it will appear in the publication medium. T his way you can
preview the work to see the limitations of its profile and correct any
Simulated conversion
Profiles contain color information. T his is important since the origin of
the image will determine how the image and solid colors will be
converted to the appropriate color space.
Conversion between color spaces is not made directly, even when
those color spaces are similar. Instead there is an intermediary step to
the widest possible mode: L*a*b.. T herefore, an RGB profile will first
be converted to L*a*b before subsequent conversion to another RGB
or CMYK profile. In comparing two different profiles, there will be
values in one profile which fall completely outside of the other profile.
T hus, you must adjust the entire profile and not just the values which
do not match.
Simulating the maximal ink coverage
A profile can also be used to limit the analog result from a digital
conversion. For example, and intense black on screen is not a problem.
However, when printed, a direct conversion to CMYK values might end
up with superimposed ink layers made up of 7 5% cyan, 65% magenta,
85% yellow, and 90% black, resulting in excessive ink and smearing.
T o prevent this smudging, profiles will limit the amount of ink coverage
(T AC for total area coverage) that a sheet of paper can
accommodate. For some situations, this may be 240% T AC. European
standards are limited to 320% or 300%.
Rendering intents
T here are several rendering modes suitable for media publication. As
with profile management, Scribus distinguishes image profiles from
solid color profiles. T hus, you may use the profile best suited to a
rendering mode for the particular object.
Rendering modes allow for a screen preview of the color conversion
which will later occur when you export your document. T here are four
Perceptible attempts to convert between profiles to preserve the
relationship of similar colors, avoiding the creation of tonal
bands. It is recommended for print publications.
Relative Colorimetric focuses mainly on matching colors compared
to the original, calibrating the white point for the output paper. It
could also be suited for print publication.
Absolute Colorimetric also attempts to match colors compared to
the original, except there is no white point compensation.
T herefore, it will be best suited to spot colors, and not useful
for images.
Saturation, as the name implies, will absolutely respect the original
colors, at the expense of transitions. Just as with Absolute
Colorimetric, it should be used only for spot colors, logos, or
Simulate Printer on the Screen
You can also display an on-screen preview of what will actually be
exported to the particular media, especially in regard to printing
equipment. It is possible to customize the simulation by forcing color
to match those in the color space of the printer output. Begin by
checking Convert all colors to printer space.
Check Mark Colors out of Gamut in order to see the colors which might
not print correctly, usually because they do not exist in the destination
color space.
Use Black Point Compensation is an operation to balance the contrast of
an image to compensate for the mixing of inks. In a photograph, for
example, the mixture of black corresponding to the darkest value of
the image will be enhanced by the CMYK profile, so that the mixture of
inks is not excessive at the time of printing.
Color management begins of course with the acquisition or creation of
compositional elements, but the time of software layout is the most
critical to determine the color profiles which will ultimately be applied.
User Preferences and settings
By default, color management is determined in the settings in File >
Preferences > Color Management. T he settings here will be applied to all
newly created Scribus documents.
Sometimes, however, you may wish to alter the settings for a
particular document. In that case, you might use File > Document
Settings > Color Management to change settings for a particular
document you are working on.
You can also change settings from the main window, using the
Enable/disable Color Management icon to the right in the bottom
toolbar, next to the Enable/disable Preview Mode icon. If you click-hold
the color management icon, you see a button to click to Configure CMS.
You can, of course, choose not to apply color management, but this
may cause significant differences between what you see onscreen and
in the printed output.
What profiles should you use?
Profiles are as numerous as the number of different pieces of
equipment used to display or print documents. A commercial printer
may sometimes create their own profiles for their workflow and
infrastructure, or call on specialists to generate them.
Manufacturers will usually provide a profile with the device they
produce. Generally, it is advised to use these manufacturer-provided
profiles, but you must consider that with time, the accuracy of the
profile may shift. Monitor screens in particular, may show changes in
colors and brightness over the working day (from heating of
components) and over months (from wear). Demanding people will
therefore recalibrate profiles using measurement devices to reflect
these changes. Some equipment comes with adaptive software to
adjust settings to real-time hardware changes. Argyll free software and
its derivative such as dispcalGUI can create profiles.
T here are also standard profiles which serve as global references in
the absence of specific ones. T hese are generally produced by
consortia, official groups who determine, based on media and the
available world inks, generic profiles from specifications issued by the
ICC (International Color Consortium). For Europe, the ECI (European
Color Initiative - publishes RGB and CMYK color profiles
adapted to the European workflow based on the specifications of
Fogra standards and ISO related to color. Profiles available from the
ECI are also available in a version limiting maximum ink coverage to
300%. T hese profiles make an attempt to standardize procedures,
and may be a reliable basis for work in the absence of information
from the printer.
The difficulty of multimedia publication
T here is great difficulty with profiling a document to be posted on the
Web. While it is relatively easy and recommended to preview a
document made with color profiles corresponding to a particular
printing material, you cannot anticipate the screen rendering of a
document which will be displayed on a huge range of screens accessing
a Web page.
Not only are there a wide range of kinds of hardware for visual
display, but some may not have accurate profiles with which they
operate. You must accept that a document created with Scribus will
not necessarily display accurately wherever it is viewed. T he best
approach is therefore to rely on the profiles most commonly used for
RGB output: sRGB and Adobe RGB.
T he purpose of quality control is to make sure that your layout will be
exported to PDF following certain limitations and free of errors of
various types, which is essential for graphic design production. T here
are three tools which help us: Preflight Verifier, PDF Export, and the
Search-Replace function. T he Preflight Verifier is configurable in File >
Preferences > Preflight Verifier, and it looks for the following:
Missing characters
Objects which are placed somewhere off the page
T ext overflow
T ransparency
Missing images
Resolution of images
PDF files contained in the layout
Presence of GIF images
Verification of PDF Annotations and Fields
Ignoring unprintable layers
Checking the difference between display and printing of layers
Preflight Verifier displays a dialog which will show each error it detects,
along with the relevant page and object. T he advantage is that it very
easily will detect a host of errors your visual review may easily miss,
and takes at most a few seconds to complete.
Once you are past this initial screen, you then proceed to the next
step, PDF Export. T he various options are explained in the chapter
The Final Output. For our purposes here, we will say that this takes a
few seconds to run the export function, and in some cases it may
need to be repeated. T his might come about after you examine the
PDF on screen or in printed form.
Everything! Quality control requires a keen eye and for you to be
mentally sharp. If you keep in mind that a Scribus document is really a
set of instructions on how to build a PDF from various sources, you
can realize the importance of having at hand all the materials you
need. You are also mindful of the technical specifications for your
layout, and you have already been checking, rechecking, and rerechecking all of this as you create the layout. In this final check we are
once again reviewing the technical specifications, on a practical level the
geometry of the pages and the content. T his includes the following:
17 .
T he number of pages
Document format, with attention to the measurement units
Safety margins, allowing for the type of finishing, trimming,
binding, etc.*
T he color space
T he number of colors
T he actual colors (plates)
Resolution of images
Ink coverage
Output profiles
T he presence of all the sources
T ypography – applying styles and typographic formatting, gaps,
widow and orphans, typographical gray, hyphenation, and spaces
Entering corrections
Compliance with the stylebook as appropriate
Compliance with all particular requirements of the project
If the document is to be printed, the final true test is viewing the
actual printed output. A document created for the screen can only be
checked on screen.
* Safety margins are not to be confused with document margins. T his
includes the tolerance of the finishing equipment, trimming and binding,
gluing, and perforating. T his will depend on the specific printing
equipment, and should have been checked at the beginning of the
design process, since it may affect the design and layout of page
elements. More specifically, you don't want important content in areas
susceptible to loss during finishing.
** T here are many kinds of black, and you may in fact use different
blacks in the same document and on the same page. Once your
document has been printed out in quantity, these different blacks may
be incompatible and at that point it's too late. Imagine you have a
photo with a margin which fades to black, yet this turns out to be a
different black than the background around it. An attempt at a
sublime transition becomes ugly.
Copyediting and proofreading are related tasks. T he former applies
to reviewing the source materials for accuracy, grammar, and content.
T he latter, proofreading, as the name implies, happens after you have
generated a proof of your work for a final assessment, not only of the
issues checked during copyediting, but also fonts, layout, and all the
visual aspects of the end product. You begin on bad footing with your
reader if your work isn't coherent, concise, and pleasing to view and
read. As it implies, copyediting is best done before your create your
layout, set and adjust your styles, since this is the time when editing of
the content is easiest. It also avoids creating other problems which
might change the layout, such as when you significantly add or remove
T his having been said, you may still find yourself changing the content
in the proofreading stage. T he choices for hyphenation may be
inappropriate and need editing. You simply may miss some
grammatical errors until this final stage. It may be that once you see
the layout a change in the text content may improve the flow of text
or deal with some ugliness like rivers or gaps in the lines of text. T hus,
proofreading is also a very essential part of the editing process.
What about spell-checking?
Scribus has a built-in spell-checker [Item > Check Spelling], though it
admittedly is a bit cumbersome. T ypically, your word processing
software will have a much easier to use and better spell-checker. Even
so, as good as these are, they are not error-free, so it is up to you to
find mistakes these automated utilities leave or create.
Once errors are identified, they must be corrected. On a simple
operative level, this only requires identifying an error, going to Edit
Contents mode, and then going to and fixing the error. T his seems
simple enough, but requires rapt attention and efficient visual scanning.
You have at your disposal another tool in Scribus for this task:
Search-Replace. Once you have selected a text frame, select Edit >
T he advantages include the fact that your errors will be found very
quickly and without mistakes. You can start by simply entering the text
to search for – it's not necessary to fill in all these fields. Immediately
you will be presented with the appropriate location, then you may
choose to enter the text to replace the error, and choose to replace
one at a time or all subsequent errors also.
Here we're going to discuss another aspect of working with your
documents. Your document and its layout consists of material from a
variety of sources, not just the images and the text, but also the
particular fonts you may have chosen. Just as it's important to
organize and plan these aspects of your document before you begin
your work, you must also consider how these are best archived and
transferred. What are the issues?
T o fully understand the purposes, consider these points and situations:
Images are not included in the Scribus file (except for some
simple graphics). Scribus only stores the path to the image file,
and this is a relative path, related to the location of the Scribus
file on your computer. On another computer, this may be a
different relative path, and especially on Scribus running on
different operating systems, the file structure may be quite
different. If you move either the Scribus file or the image file,
Scribus will not find the image.
It is most unlikely that two different computers will have all the
same fonts available. T hus, someone bringing up your file on a
different computer may get a font substitution, and the layout
be severely disrupted.
Furthermore, color profiles should be the same from one computer to
another, and may or may not be available.
In the archiving process, Scribus can bring all these elements together,
so that a concise path structure is created, with all the necessary
So saving a Scribus file is only a small part of this process, and this is
quite different from exporting, which transforms the document into
some other noneditable format (at least not editable as we are able to
edit the content and layout within Scribus).
Archiving will be useful for:
Keeping a particular state of the work at some point in time;
Archiving the document for some future use;
Sending the document to someone who may edit it, but on some
other computer;
Using the document yourself on another computer ...
In short, any time you do not have an identical environment, file
structure, and resources, archiving is highly useful if not essential, and
at the very least, saves considerable time in trying to duplicate the
environment and the necessary resources.
Conceptually, this is simple, but does require some concentration to
perform the correct steps.
1. Create a folder for the archive;
2. In Scribus, select File > Collect for Output;
3. In the dialog select this folder (the dialog only accepts
4. In this same dialog, select to include fonts, and color profiles if
5. Click OK, and Scribus saves your selected items all together in
this folder. Note that a copy of your images will be in this folder
and all the paths will be adjusted appropriately.
6. If you wish, you can then compress this folder with zip or some
other utility so that it can be sent as a single file to your
colleague, or yourself on another computer.
7 . Once saved on the other computer, unzip the file, which
recreates the same folder structure. When Scribus opens the file,
it will of course be looking in that folder for the images, but also
will search that folder for any needed fonts and color profiles.
Now we come to the final stage before the creation of a printed
document, which involves incorporating all of our sources (text, fonts,
and images) into the final fixed layout, and in addition, application of
the appropriate color profiles for the intended results.
In most cases, PDF has emerged as the most widely accepted format
for all those working in the graphic chain. PDF is an ISO standard by
virtue of its carefully directed structure, and its files have a compact
size, considering the richness of the content, the vectorized flexibility,
and its universal acceptance across many different systems.
T here are other formats available through File > Export:
PostScript actually predates PDF, and was the original widely
used format for desktop publishing, aided by the fact that many
printers were designed to accept PS input to create documents.
Although not as flexible as PDF, it is still used by Scribus as an
output format for directly printing from Scribus.
EPS, or Encapsulated PostScript, rather than defining the
placement of items in a document, places them in a container for
some greater flexibility. EPS suffers a bit from having
customized versions on some systems.
A potential image format might also be useful is to save as a
T IFF, which will flatten transparencies. T his is a bitmap, not
vector format, and thus high resolution files may be quite large.
SVG is a new format, vector type, and highly flexible, but in part
because of its newness has not become universally accepted or
Selecting File > Export > Save as PDF opens a dialog with multiple tabs
and options, perhaps a bit bewildering to the new user, yet does offer
some default settings which are useful for many printing tasks.
T he first tab shows a number of options, which are at the core of the
settings needed for the file we present to the printer. While the default
setting may be the correct ones for many situations, we may well
which to change a few for the desired results. T he following, then, will
cover a number of these settings for your consideration.
PDF version
T here are now many flavors of PDFs, as the format has evolved to
include various features related to its content and structure. Scribus
allows for selection of various types according to the needs you have
based on the content of your document.
With each version name you will see a corresponding version of
Acrobat, in which the PDF version was introduced. If you document
does not include any transparency, you might choose version 1.3, since
it did not allow transparency. T ransparency was introduced as of
version 1.4, and multilayered documents with version 1.5, so your
document may dictate one of these as a choice. PDF/X-3 is based on
1.3, but includes the need for color management to be activated.
An important and very basic consideration when deciding on a PDF
version is what is recommended by your printer. In many cases this
overrides any other choices, since you cannot use a format your
printer will not or cannot accept.
Compression and resolution
Here at the export stage, you must again consider the resolution of
images in your document. For most purposes, a minimum resolution
should be 300 dpi. T his is why the resolution for EPS graphics defaults
to this setting. Any EPS images contained in your document may
contain vectorized elements, so this setting may be important for your
In addition, there is the setting for Compress Text and Vector Graphics
which may help to limit the size of the PDF from these elements.
At the bottom of the General tab is a section for choosing the Image
Compression Method and its settings, again with the idea to have
sufficient resolution, yet if possible reduce the size of the final file,
since image data is embedded in the PDF.
As far as Compression Method specifically, a lossy type such as JPEG
allows for more reduction in file size, but runs the risk of data loss and
degradation of the image in the PDF. A better choice might be the
lossless or ZIP for greater image fidelity. On the other hand, if the final
file is to be viewed on screen, image quality may be less an issue, since
screens typically have a maximum resolution of 96 dpi.
Finally, you may also choose the Maximum Resolution, by default set at
300 dpi. While you might leave this item unchecked as it is in the
default, this could be useful if you are using very large images in order
to reduce file size.
You cannot depend on your fonts being present on the system which
is viewing or printing your document. If they are not present,
substitutions will be made. T o avoid this, you have two options:
Embedding fonts. T his is the ideal choice whenever possible.
Outlining fonts. Some types of fonts may not allow embedding,
or the license for the font may not permit it, in which case this is
your next best alternative. Outlining amounts to creating vector
graphical images of each glyph, and including them as graphical
T he Color tab offers a series of choices which determine the
application of color profiles in your PDF. As you can see, in the default
Screen/Web choice for output intent, you have no options, which only
come into play when you choose Printer, where you will be making
conversions to CMYK.
Converting spot colors
In some print workflows, you are paying for the number of ink colors
you use. If you use a spot color, this is an additional ink. T his setting
allows you to convert a spot color to CMYK for cost-saving. If your
document is not already CMYK, perhaps a duotone, you should
probably stay with a spot color to avoid converting your duotone to
CMYK. Make sure you understand what you are doing, and consult your
printer if you are not sure.
Custom rendering
Selecting Use Custom Rendering Settings will allow adjustment of settings
for changing the angle, frequency, and shape of the printing dots (of
ink). Since the default settings are generally correct, it is not
recommended to alter these unless you have specific instructions
from your printer.
Application of color profiles
Here we are making a conscious decision to alter the previously
determined color profiles, with the knowledge that you may change
the results from that expected. T his is the point when we can
choose to ignore an embedded image color profile, and possibly even
load a different one for use in creating the PDF.
T his tab allows you to configure various elements used in the process
of physically printing your document, as well as demarcate areas for
trimming and finishing the paper for the final product.
Crop marks define the extent of your final document after
trimming. Anything outside the marks will be removed in the
trimming process.
Bleed marks are similar to crop marks, but define the area inside
which you create your layout. T his allows you to make sure that
decorative elements or images will go completely to the edge of
the cut page, by overlapping into the bleed area. It is possible
here to alter the bleed settings from those you chose in creating
your document.
Registration marks allow for the alignment of the printing inks in
a multistep printing process.
Color bars will show the array of colors used in the document.
Page information includes the name of the document, date of
creation, and page number.
PDF/X3 Output Intent will only be available if you have made this
selection in General settings, and allows the choice of a specific
profile for global output. T his will necessarily be a CMYK color
T here are some further settings which will have no relationship to the
printing of the document, but apply to situations when a PDF may be
digitally transmitted and viewed electronically. T hese are included in
the Viewer and Security tabs, the latter being greyed out if you have
chosed PDF/X-3 compatibility in the General tab.
Settings in the Viewer tab determine various display properties
onscreen to allow for easier manipulation and reading of the
document. In addition, Special Actions allows for running some
JavaScript to open the PDF or to pre-populate fields in a PDF form.
Printing to a file allows for applying some specific options which do not
happen in the creation of a PDF. T hese are more applicable to the
actual procedure of printing (impression) of a document. Instead of
actually physically printing, a PostScript file is created with the
information one might use in the actual printing procedure.
Once you select File > Print, choose File as your Print Destination, then
enter the name of the file.
T he Options tab allows you to choose Print Normal (all colors), or
Separations, where you may select individual CMYK inks to save in the
file. T here are three levels of PostScript export to choose from, the
highest being level 3.
In the Advanced Options tab, there are some limited choices under Page,
and also some Color options. Change Page options only on the advice
of your printer. Color offers some settings we saw in PDF export, to
convert spot colors to process, and also to apply color profiles. In
addition, there is Apply Under Color Removal, to reduce excessively rich
black. What this does is convert gray from a mixture of CMY inks to
black, thus reducing the amount of ink coverage to reduce smudging.
T he Marks tab offers the selection of marks seen in PDF export, but
adds the ability to apply an Offset.
Finally, Bleeds allows for changing from the bleed settings for the
When you then click Print, you create a file which can then be used by
specialized software that can convert the created PS file to PDF in the
printing process. T hese include Moonshiner, GSView, and Distiller.
Getting a preview of your printed output is of unquestionable value.
Your preview may give some indications of color problems in the final
output. By selecting File > Print Preview, you have an opportunity to
actually see the results of the various choices you make in PDF export
as shown above.
Display settings
T hese are used to customize the preview of the document. Enable
Antialiasing improves the display of vector elements, fonts, shapes, and
graphics. It can be useful for visually assessing overlays and
In addition, there are Display Transparencies and Display CMYK, the
latter to selectively show individual cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink
layers in the document, as well as how they interact in the document.
Keep in mind that your view is an RGB simulation of CMYK, thus not
quite the same thing.
T he display includes the ability to assess ink coverage, especially
where there is superimposition of vector shapes or text over a
background color.
Preview settings
We have the various settings already discussed in Print to a file,
except that here we have the opportunity to actually visualize the
results of these choices to anticipate how these will affect the printed
"It's not working!" is a common reaction, sometimes even a voiced
complaint, when some result doesn't quite meet our expectations, or
even contradicts what we were trying to do.
T he first thing to do might be to read this section to try to
understand the various details and issues involved in what you just did.
T hen begin to think about the problem, considering that you may have
set up some conflicts in the various settings you have made in the
creation of your document, such as trying to move an image you had
previously locked.
It is typically extremely frustrating whenever you cannot locate the
source of a problem. In this situation, you should keep in mind the
hierarchy of the various rules which apply to your Scribus document
– what you see amounts to the sum of these various settings you
have applied.
In this hierarchy of settings, those higher on the scale (such as
Document Settings) will be initially applied globally, but may be
contradicted by a setting at a lower level (such as Page Properties) to
introduce exceptions. T his might allow, for example, to include inside a
book a larger page folded, to include a map.
Understanding this hierarchy in fact will help us solve problems, by
localizing its source to some particular level, the first step in its
Here is a simplified model of this hierarchy of settings, from highest to
Once you identify the appropriate level, the solution is at hand.
Once you use a tool such as that for creating a frame, Scribus will
automatically revert to the Select Item tool. If you select the wrong
tool or change your mind, you can either click the Select Item toolbar
icon, or press the Esc key.
Sometimes with a mouse (or with a stylus for the happy owners of a
graphics tablet), you may find that when you intended only to select a
frame, it moves a very slight amount, due to your unintentional
movement as you clicked. T here is a setting in Preferences that
markedly reduces this behavior. If you look in settings in the General
tab, you will see Time before a Resize or Move starts, by default 150 ms,
but increase it to 300 ms if you see the need.
Why wait to talk about installation until the end of the book?
Installation is certain a requirement prior to your first steps in learning
the software, but it's not part of the usage of the software itself.
Since this book has as its main purpose showing some best practices
when using Scribus, the authors consciously chose to place the
installation here in the appendix. is the site where you will find links to all the packages
as well as information on some installation procedures.
Before installing Scribus, it's useful to understand its versioning system.
Free software typically has a numerical system which it uses in the
software development process.
At the time of the writing of this book, the current official stable
release is version 1.4. Somewhere ahead of this is a developmental
version, version 1.5, which is not recommended for routine professional
use, although it is available, and can coexist with 1.4 on your system.
Once 1.5 has reached the point of being considered stable, it will be
called 1.6, and that will become the official stable release.
So for now, use 1.4, which is stable, and available for various operating
Scribus is available for all distributions of Linux. Some have installation
packages, and for the rest, source code and all necessary other
requirements are available to compile.
Scribus is available as an RPM for all the distributions associated with
Red Hat, and also for SUSE and Mandriva. It often happens that
Scribus is automatically included in the installation or upgrade of some
distributions, and for example in Mandriva it can be found in the menu
under Applications > Office.
Package managers
Many of the distributions have a GUI package manager that avoids any
need to type commands to manually install Scribus: drakrpm for
Mandriva, YaST for SUSE, Synaptic for Ubuntu, and so on.
It may be necessary to configure the manager to install packages from
third party repositories, as evidenced by the installation process for
Debian and Ubuntu packages shown on .
As with all open source software, Scribus has available its source code.
Inexperienced and unadventuresome users may find this excessively
challenging, so the authors of this book recommend consulting the
official for instruction on the requirements and method of compiling
and installing.
One advantage of installation from source is that you have available to
you the latest updates, which include bug fixes and enhancements.
With Windows installation is more basic, and quite similar to installing
other software by downloading an installer directly from the Scribus
site from the Download page at Note that there are both
32-bit and 64-bit versions now available.
Official site of Scribus.
As with Windows, Mac OS X uses an installer. You will also find DMG
files on the Download page at, although only version 1.4 is
available at this time. Prior versions of Scribus recommended
installation of X11, but this is no longer the case.
Various terms used in Scribus and in publishing.
T he concept of an analog object is in distinction to a digital object. It
might be the same sort of object (e.g., a thermometer), yet they show
information in very different ways.
An analog object presents information often from some physical
measurement (mercury level, an electrical signal, ...) which is continuous,
and therefore has no predefined smallest unit, potentially of high
resolution if precision of measurement is high. Anything measuring
natural elements is analog.
T he main drawback of analog data is that it is subject to noise and
other errors of transmission, after which the quality of the information
can be vastly reduced. Also, if one wishes to retransmit analog data,
specific methods and signal attributes must be used.
In 1962, the French engineer Pierre Bézier invented this process that
bears his name to describe automotive parts using computers. Since
that time, Bezier curves have become known for being a very powerful
and accurate means of describing curves geometrically, and therefore
any vector graphics program will make use of them.
T he basic principle is to define two points through which the curve
passes, each point having zero, one, or two vectors. T he vectors then
influence the shape of the curve by their length and the direction in
which they exert this influence. A longer vector exerts greater
By increasing the number of points and vectors, any kind of complex
curve can be represented. If a curve reaches its point of origin, it can
become a closed path, in which the vectors at each end influence the
adjacent curve.
In vector graphical applications, Bezier curves have two main
attributes: the description of the curve itself, and then the stroke,
which determines color, width, and perhaps pattern or style of the line.
T his refers to the descriptive format for graphics and images, in which
the picture is described by a series of lines of pixels (monitor) or dots
(ink), each pixel or data point representing a particular color. Ultimately,
representation of some image either on screen or on paper requires
representation as a bitmap. A vector image must therefore be
rasterized to be represented in these media. Higher data density (more
PPI or pixels per inch, or DPI, dots per inch) will achieve greater
precision and fidelity, at the expense of larger files and processing
time for manipulation.
Scribus has some internal ability to manipulate bitmap images in
various ways (see Image Effects in the Context menu), but also can rely
on Gimp for more complex editing. Common bitmap formats are JPEG,
PNG, GIF, and T IFF.
T he bleed is an extra space around the final document margins. Most
printing equipment cannot print literally to the edge of the paper. In
situations where it is desired that an image or graphical object literally
goes completely to the edge of the space, the designer takes the
border of this graphical content into the bleed area.
After the actual printing of the necessary inks, the paper passes
through a trimmer, which cuts off this excess. Inside the bleed area
there may also be other content, such as registration marks and the
color palette of the document. Cut marks may be added as well, but
your printer may prefer not to have these.
T his refers to a color space, and also a printing process, using the
colors Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (the K is perhaps from the
word Key). By printing layers of these ink colors on paper, one should
be able to produce most colors (within the gamut of the color space).
In practice, greens and bright orange may pose great difficulty, and
even though CMY can produce deepening shades of gray, a true black
is never quite achieved. T hus the inclusion of an actual black ink for
this purpose.
Scribus offers a color scheme generator, which you bring up by
selecting Extras > Color Wheel.
In design you must frequently come up with color choices which satisfy
one (or both) of two possible intents:
finding colors which do not clash with each other, i.e., are
finding colors which offer great contrast
Newton is credited with the first depiction of a color circle, but it was
Goethe who offered some further and more pertinent work,
particularly in regard to the pleasing and emotional effects of various
color combinations. Since then, many others have offered their own
refinements, sometimes for specific purposes.
T he color wheel offers a visual representation of color showing colors
which are close together in hue (analogous), and others dissimilar
(complementary). It arranges the primary colors around the circle, 120°
from each other, and thus secondary colors midway between each pair
of these. In practice, the color wheel allows us to choose among the
following color schemes:
Monochromatic – a single color is chosen for the base, with
variants differing in lighter or darker versions.
Analogous – here our base color is chosen, along with two
nearby colors, each the same distance (angle) away on the wheel.
Complementary – in addition to our base color, we are given its
complement 180° away on the circle.
Split complementary – from our base color, two analogous
colors are created, then each of these analogous colors creates
its complement, for a total of five colors.
Triadic – from our base color, two additional colors are
selected, each 120° away on the wheel.
Tetradic (double complementary) – here we have a scheme of
four colors, our base color, its complement, a single analogous
color one direction or the other around the wheel, and finally its
Also, do not overlook the inclusion of the Vision Defect Type selector
at the bottom, where we have a chance to see if our color choices will
be perceived in a sensible way by those with various color vision
As noted in the entry on Analog, data or some measurement may be
represented in an analog or digital way.
In theory at least, analog data is continuous, and therefore should not
have any limits on its resolution – there may, of course, be limits on
the resolution, precision, or accuracy of the measuring device. Digital
information, in contrast, will have a finite limit of resolution based on
the smallest unit one bit of data represents.
T he adoption of the wide use of digital data and information relates
to its ease in saving, altering, and transmitting of the binary
information, which when combined with standards for some data
format, allows for any machine anywhere to interpret the data.
One big disadvantage is that once the data resolution has been set,
this remains the limit of the data detail. If we consider creating our
data with ever higher resolution, we then face the practical limits of
computing power and space to manage such massive amounts of data.
We also know that digital systems are fallible at many points, with data
loss or corruption as constant threats, yet hopefully as infrequent as
For Computer Graphics, coming as it has out of the digital revolution,
we use this digital information, manipulating it mathematically,
accepting its advantages and disadvantages.
T his isn't a commonly used term, but the concept is rather ubiquitous
these days: the idea of having content which might be formatted and
finalized for some particular purpose (or channel). In Scribus, one might
simultaneously create a document for sharing on the web and also for
print publication. T he former would need to be of a lighter weight, and
would require less precision and could have a lower resolution for
graphics. Having scripts or specially purposed software for this would
be a great time-saver.
Em (also called quad or quadrilateral) is a unit of measurement which
traditionally referred to the length and width of a block of type. Since
in early typography the letter M entirely filled the block, this led to this
name. Its size is then determined according to the size of the font
being used. In Scribus, you will mainly encounter this in reference to the
width of spaces or dashes (em space or em dash).
En is designated as one-half the size of em. Once again, you will
encounter this in reference to spaces and dashes (en space or en
Often simply called Mono (short for monospaced), is a combination of
glyph and line spacing which each character, including the space from
preceding and following characters, has the same width as all other
characters. T hus each line of text will have a specific number of
characters for its length. A positive result from this is that aligning
characters in columns is easy. A negative result is the challenge of
alignment of the lines for justification.
T his is typically represented in points, but what does it refer to?
T raditionally, in the time of printing presses using metal type, the size
of a font referred to the height of the block of lead alloy for the
glyphs, not the size of the glyphs themselves. T his is perhaps why two
different typefaces of the "same" size may have different heights
For example, here are groups of 3 letters, "Hyj", sequentially using
DejaVu Sans, Droid Sans, Free Sans, and Nimbus Sans L, all at 36
points. T he spacing between the horizontal guides is 36 points.
T his is another traditional typesetting term which applied to the
physical frame used to hold the type in printing for alignment and
keeping it in place.
In Scribus it is the name of the containers used for text, images, and
other graphics. Each type of container can only have one type of
content – only text in a text frame, for example. When you convert
from one frame type to another, its content will at least appear to be
lost, and certainly would not be exported. However, if you might for
example convert an image frame with image to a text frame, then
later change your mind, you will see your image again when you
convert back.
T his term describes the entire process involved in the ultimate
creation of some graphical work which results in the printing of
multiple copies of some document. It includes creation, pre-press, and
finally the mass printing.
T his is the name for the space between two columns of text, needed
to visually separate the material, and also to give the page some
"breathing room", so consider both of these needs as you decide on
the width of the gutter.
Halftone is a printing technique in which, rather than printing an area
with color homogeneously, an array of tiny dots of ink of variable size,
shape, and spacing is printed. What this accomplishes is an ability to
have subtle changes in color intensity, and is particularly suitable for
printing photographs. T he process can be extended to using more
than one ink, giving the impression of an almost infinite array of colors
on the printed page.
Duotone, as the name implies, is a process of using two colors,
typically black over some other color, such as blue.
Stand for Hue, Saturation, and Value, and Hue, Saturation, and
LIghtness respectively. T hey are not necessarily the same thing,
although the lack of standardization means that you may find them
used interchangeably.
Scribus uses the HSV designation. Changing the H component will
change the hue or color in a circular fashion, while changing S adjusts
the intensity of the color. For example, if we consider and RGB color of
(0,0,100) and another (0,0,255), the latter will be more saturated and
therefore more intensely blue.
T he value or lightness is more complex, and in this case consider RGB
(0,0,255) and (100,100,255), in which case the latter will be lighter, and in
a sense more washed out. At maximum value all colors become white,
at minimum, black.
When one conceives or reads a book or document, we think of the
pages in order: 1, 2, 3, ..., to the end. If we have only 2 pages, we might
simply print both sides of a sheet of paper and be finished. For any
larger number of pages, and especially if we fold this into some
pamphlet (as in the Hands On chapter), booklet, or book, we can see
that the actual printing requires some work and calculation to reorder
the pages so that when the pages are folded, when the book is
assembled, the reader see them in the correct order. T his reordering
is called imposition.
In a simple 4-page pamplet, made by folding an A4 sheet of paper, we
can see that one side of the paper must have page 4 on the left and
page 1 on the right, and the other side has page 2 on the left and page
3 on the right.
If we consider a 16-page booklet we might denote the following
sequence to indicate the pairs of printed sheets. Here we depict the
printing of the front and back side of 4 sheets of paper to create a 16
page booklet after assembly and folding.
T he actual order in which the sheets of paper are printed would of
course depend on the specific printing equipment used. T here are also
more complicated processes used in the printing of books, in which
many more than two pages are printed at the same time on a large
sheet of paper, with the complex folding and cutting then occurring
afterward. For a depiction of this see Document format: Principles
of Imposition.
Imagine that you are in design school, attaching various objects to
some work you are doing. Since each object is physical, it will either be
on top of or underneath some other object in your workspace. In
Scribus, this is the concept of Levels, and just as you can reorder this
positioning in design, you can reorder it in Scribus. Just as in design, no
two objects can be at the same place or level.
Now, imagine that you have a sheet of clear plastic on which you have
placed many objects, creating a whole new set of levels. You then take
this sheet of plastic and lay it down on top of your original workspace
with its levels of objects, another layer of objects. T his is the concept
of Layers in Scribus, except that your sheet of plastic is virtual and
invisible, yet just as with that sheet, you can put it on top of or
underneath any of the other layers you are working with. In Scribus,
note that you can only work on one layer at a time – this is a useful
feature to keep you from accidentally making unintended changes
elsewhere. You can also move any object from one layer to another.
Master Pages are pre-formatted pages which have limited content,
perhaps a chapter heading or page numbering, used repeatedly in a
document, typically a multipage document (you might also use a
Master Page in a single page document when you produce different
issues or versions). If used for page numbering, you will often need at
least two versions, one for right-sided pages, and the other for leftsided.
A major advance in printing dating from the late 19th and early 20th
centuries. Prior to that, printing was a very labor-intensive and slow
process, either using metal type or lithography. In these two methods,
ink is directly transferred from the original material to the paper. In
offset printing, the original model in cylindrical shape transfers ink to a
cylinder covered with a rubber sheet, which then transfers the ink to
paper. T he rubber allows for more intimate contact with the paper
and therefore is of high quality. Furthermore, prints can be made in
large quantities without degradation of the original, and therefore
costs are much lower.
Only rotogravure or photogravure will produce higher quality images in
quantity, but due to the cost of this process, one needs to make a
very large number of copies for this to be economically advantageous.
If you visit a printing operation, you will see that paper comes in an
amazing array of sizes, colors, and thicknesses. Outside of the realm
of professional printing, we are mostly familiar with some standard
sizes of paper, formerly used in typewriters, and now in the printer we
attach to our own computers.
Internationally, the A series of paper sizes takes precedence. It was
developed in 1922 by German engineer Walter Prostmann, with the
design principle that the ratio of the length to the width is equal to the
square root of two (approximately 1.414213). T he importance of this is
that when you fold or cut such a sheet in half, you create two sheets
half the area, but having the same proportions as the original.
T hus, in the diagram below, we see that A4 is half the size of A3, A5 is
half the size of A4. What this leads to in design is greater ease in
resizing a document, since the pages' proportions are the same.
In the US and Canada, for historical reasons, US Letter and US Legal
sizes remain the standards, and their relationships to the A series are
also shown.
T he word proof comes from the German Prüfung, meaning test. T hus,
the term refers to a test printing of the final product to judge various
aspects of the creative and printing process, in particular the fidelity of
colors as they were originally conceived. Some printers may request an
actual signature on the proof before they will proceed with the
production printing. In these situations the signed proof is something
of a contract for the printing services.
In contrast to fixed width or monospacing, proportional spacing
adjusts the width of glyphs and surrounding space in order produce a
pleasing effect and improve readability. For example, the glyph for "i"
does not require as much space as "m". In many cases proportionally
spaced text will require less total space than the same monospaced
text. A given proporional font may have variants: a regular, a
condensed (narrower), and extended (wider).
T his refers to some selected text which you copy from or pull out of
the main body, then enhance it, perhaps by enlarging the font or
making it bold. In Scribus, you would most likely create a new text
frame, then strategically place it for the desired effect.
A colorspace made from the light colors Red, Green, and Blue, used for
screen display, video, and stage lighting. In contrast to CMY(K), light
colors are additive, and the maximum mixture of all three should be
white. T hey are also similar to the particular wavelengths of light which
the various cones in the retina can respond to.
While adjusting RGB values is simple and intuitively easy as a process, it
can be cumbersome when one is searching for a particular result, and
therefore many prefer using the HSV (hue-saturation-value) method
for adjusting RGB colors.
Scribus can store
sets of arbitrary objects of all types it supports in a library
called Scrapbook, which can be saved in an external file. It is a practical
addition to tools and templates, to be used for editable objects, recurring
elements in the layout, or to prepare standard content.
Space between characters in typography. Spacing is fixed in
monospaced fonts, but especially in typography one is more often
using proportional fonts, in which the width of characters varies in
some relationship to em (the width of the letter "m"). T here are two
types of spacing: group spacing, which are the general rules for all
characters in the font, and kerning, which applies to the spacing
between character pairs. In some cases letters may combine to form
ligatures, which are a single character/glyph (æ, œ, ff, fl for example).
T hese are mostly proprietary inks having a particular color, and thus
not requiring a mixture of CMYK for their appearance in a printed
document. Some spot colors, such as gold or silver, cannot be
represented in the CMYK colorspace, thus their utility.
T o use a spot color you must be sure that the color exists and is
available to your printer. If not, there may be an opportunity for a
digital emulation of the color.
Scribus has a number of spot color palettes, as permitted by the
patent holder of the ink.
T ypographical color is the subjective impression produced as one sees
the relative darkness of a block of space on the page consisting not
only of the text itself, but any spaces between letters and lines.
Some examples are shown in the section Composing:Typographic
T he particular factors which contribute to typographical color will be
the font used, its weight, adjustments to height and width of glyphs,
spacing and kerning, line spacing, and justification. One may also get an
impression of the homogeneity of this gray, perhaps disrupted by
excessive gaps between words or letters at some locations.
In addition to a bitmap representation of images (described above),
there are also various vector formats, in which images can be
described by geometrical formulas. Bezier curves would be considered
a kind of vector format, and may be incorporated into some vector
In contrast to a bitmap image, a vector image has no inherent
resolution, and therefore should show crisp detail even at higher
magnifications. T herefore, the final detail is limited only by the display
or printing device.
T he main drawback of vector graphics will be seen where there are
subtle and gradual changes in color or shading, often the case in
photographic images, for example. T his is why digital cameras typically
use some bitmap format – in addition, of course, the photodetectors
are arrayed in a raster format, so saving in vector would require a
Common vector formats useful in Scribus are SVG, PS or PostScript,
EPS, and AI.
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