Trying Scribus

I can’t really say testing Scribus, because I’m very much not a graphics person. I do the page layout for my company’s books, but that’s because we’re such a small company, and I can just manage to do it. I do all that layout in OpenOffice.org Writer. Writer does a great job for someone like me who has very light demands on the system.

But today I needed a few copies of a brochure, and I needed them now, and the current copy was worse than even I would do, so I decided to use Scribus. (I’ll get the pieces off to my graphics guy on Monday!) I’m using the latest version (, and working with Ubuntu 7.10. You may justly ask just why one would use an unfamiliar piece of software when one needs something quickly, especially in an area where one is not expert. Good question. It’s a form of insanity.

All I did to get started is read the section Scribus Basics from docs.scribus.net, and set out to work. Scribus is a page layout program, and those of you, like me, who are used to working with word processors that have substantial page layout capabilities should take note. When the basic docs suggest sketching out your layout, creating all your graphics and gathering them in one place, and editing all your text and saving it as files, they really mean it.

I would add something that wasn’t clear to me at the start. It’s not enough to have all your text in a text file. You need to think text frames and flow. You can link the frames, for text flow, but you probably won’t want to do that all the way through a brochure. I needed a total of four text files to make it convenient. You can use the internal editor, and I did create some styles in that in order to format text, but it’s easier to have it in the logical chunks before you start.

Once you have everything together, the rest should go fairly smoothly. My installation defaulted to A4 size paper, so I had to switch to U. S. letter size. I wasn’t precisely sure about templates, and I ended up not using the one that was there. I wouldn’t have wanted to modify it to suit my needs. But it did show me a few things about layout. I looked through the various objects to get a feel.

The result? Well, it’s not all that pretty, but it didn’t take me excessively long, and it was done on time, so what more can I ask? I think people who are generally acquainted with page layout and used to working this way will find this a pretty useful piece of software. I’m fairly happy that I’m unlikely to encounter it more than a couple of times a year, but that’s a comment on my inclinations, not the quality of the software.

It’s fairly easy to use, and works well.

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