Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Friday, April 3, 2015 at 14:16

Currently I am resuming my old curiosity about page layout design. I used Scribus 5 years ago. At that time, I feel it was difficult to create even just a page layout in Scribus. Now I know, that difficulty was caused of lack in page layout knowledge. At 2015, Scribus reached 1.4.5 version (stable). Scribus has more resources now compared to 5 years ago. Especially its Wiki[1] plus Flossmanuals[2]. I created some layout designs at few days ago. I learnt a few things I was missing 5 years ago. Below you will see some tips from me to design a layout with Scribus to avoid difficulties (time consumption etc.). Remember that it is just basic and somehow subjective (according only to my experience).

Scribus in Action


  1. Paragraph Style
  2. Custom Shortcut Keys
  3. Guides at Foreground
  4. Avoid Effects
  5. Collect for Output

1. Paragraph Style

This is the number one. What I feel as the biggest difficulty in Scribus is text. I have only word processor point of view, not desktop publishing. So if I want to use Scribus, I should change my point of view into desktop publishing. One of main thing in desktop publishing, is Paragraph Style.

1.1 Use Paragraph Styles

As example, If you want to create a cover page layout, you need the title text, subtitles, small contents, and some more texts. In this purpose, you should not type and format the text one by one. Instead, you should create Paragraph Layout for each of your text. So there will be paragaph layout for title, subtitle, small contents, and such. You can create your own paragraph style in Style Manager window (F3). See two pictures below.

Magazine Layout Example

Scribus > Style Manager > Paragraph Styles
In this example, I created a layout with many texts. I have 8 different style of texts here. In Scribus desktop publishing point of view, it is best to create paragraph style for each text. For example, at my screenshot above, I differ the title text style with content text style. So I need to create 8 paragraph style. Then I just use them in their own place respectively. You better create your own paragraph styles. Scribus paragraph layout is usable in one Scribus project only but you can import them in another Scribus file. So you can just create once and reuse them as many times as you want by importing.

2. Custom Shortcut Keys

For any digital graphic designer,  shortcut keys are very important. In Scribus, you can see the list of shortcut keys, search them, or customize them in just one single window. You can find it in File > Preferences > Keyboard Shortcuts.

If you just want to search, type the keyword at the search bar above (see my top annotation). If you want to change the shortcut key, select the Action first (e.g. Show Grid) then click Set Key button below (see my bottom annotation) then tap your own Combination (e.g. Ctrl+3, so it will be same with Inkscape).

3. Guides At Foreground

Maybe it is small thing but it is annoying. At some circumstances, guide lines will appear in background so you can not see them. To make guide lines appear correctly, you should configure them to appear at foreground. To do this, go to File > Preferences > Guides > mark In the Foreground.

Guide Lines Configuration

The Result

4. Avoid Effects

Visual effects give you many aesthetical impact in your design. But when designing, they will eat your resources more. Or (maybe it is funny) you can avoid them completely in your design. You can choose flat style or any 2D based style when designing. I admit I avoid drop shadow. It is the main fault of me 5 years ago when I was designing page layout completely in Scribus but with active drop shadows in every page. It was too heavy even for mid-end laptop I used at that time. Remember, it is just an advice. You decide.

5. Collect for Output

Scribus is different with GIMP or Inkscape. When you save the document, your SLA file contains no image. It is different with SVG, because SVG saves the images inside itself. SLA saves the images outside. So you will see the SLA size usually is very small. Now, how if you want to give your SLA to another? If you just save it, people will see your layout as wireframe plus text without image contents. Even worse, people will see different fonts and different colors (compared to your original design) because SLA does not include the fonts and color profiles by default. So how to include anything? You should do File > Collect for Output into a directory. Then you can archive the directory in a tarball and share it.

Collect for Output Window
You should check Include Fonts and Include Color Profiles options. See my annotation above. You have only directory option, because you will save anything inside that directory. In my example above, I save my project into Best of Me directory. Below is an example from what I collect for my project in Best of Me directory.

The Result of Collect for Output