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Open Source Desktop Publishing

Scribus is an open-source program that brings professional page layout to Linux/Unix, MacOS X, OS/2 and Windows desktops with a combination of "press-ready" output and new approaches to page layout.

For more information, please visit

Please use extreme care when using this program for photo book creation. We have found that this program can create extremely large PDFs which don't rasterize well for printing. Typically, PDFs should not be more than about 5 megs per page.

The pdf generation process in Scribus appears to be extremely unreliable if you are concerned with image quality

Additionally, Scribus is known to have problematic PDF support. Therefore, in the very near future, we will prevent creation of products where the Scribus PDF generation tool was used.

Instead, we recommend you use Adobe Acrobat, Apple's "Save As PDF" on Mac, or on Windows to create a PDF by "printing" the document from Scribus to a PDF file. Any of those three options should work well. Neevia has a great PDF tool that is under $30, and the Mac version comes with all OS X mac's


Embedded Font

by Craig Shepherd, 04 Dec 2010 (16:05 UTC)
I plan to create a Photobook using Scribus on a Mac and then, as you suggest, use Apple's "Save As PDF". Will this result in embedded fonts (I've seen the warnings on embedding fonts)


A hint from a Scribus User

by Karen Smith, 27 Oct 2009 (05:37 UTC)
We've done a couple of PrestoPhoto books using Scribus now, and it seems like PrestoPhoto doesn't like something about the PDFs that Scribus creates, even though they work fine in Adobe Reader or other PDF viewers. However, if we run the Scribus PDF through GhostScript, the PDF that GhostScript creates seems to work fine with PrestoPhoto.

Here's the command that we use to process the Scribus PDF into something PrestoPhoto will handle (GhostScript required):

gs -dPDFSETTINGS=/prepress -dSAFER -dCompatibilityLevel=1.5 -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sstdout=%stderr -dGrayImageResolution=600 -dMonoImageResolution=1200 -dColorImageResolution=600 -sOutputFile=upload_to_viovio.pdf -c .setpdfwrite -f scribus_output.pdf

Which would re-process the scribus_output.pdf file into upload_to_viovio.pdf, with images resized to 600dpi. You can change the Gray and Color DPIs to 300 if your file is too big. I leave the mono resolution at 1200dpi so that mono graphics print nicely on a black and white printer even though the PrestoPhoto printer won't benefit from the increased resolution.

Using Scribus for Viovio

by Russell Keanalley, 26 Mar 2009 (07:58 UTC)
Hi, I'm a new user of PrestoPhoto. Having been disappointed with other photo book companies, I'm hoping that PrestoPhoto has the image quality I've been looking for.

I decided to try Scribus and in spite of the learning curve, I have found it to be excellent publishing software!! But with the warnings posted here, I have been experimenting with the PDF creation and sure enough, with the default settings, it created PDF files 3 times the recommended maximum 5 megabytes per page.

Eventually I have found that by choosing "Lossy - JPEG" for compression method, and compression quality of "High" instead of "Maximum" with high resolution JPEG images, the resulting PDF file meets the recommended 5 megs per page.

Should I upload a few pages to check that these files will produce high quality printed images without any of these re-rasterizing problems?

Also, I have set the page sizes to 290 mm wide and 225 mm high with 17.5 mm margins all round for text, and placing images up to 5 mm from the outside, top and bottom edges for edge-to-edge printing, and 7.5 mm from the gutter edge to allow for both trimming and centre-fold bookbinding. Would these dimensions be OK?

Comment from a Scribus developer

by Andreas Vox, 14 Oct 2008 (19:47 UTC)
Uh, in our experience the pdf generation in Scribus is very reliable. Of course, if you use the wrong settings, you can get reliably bad results.

Some hints on how Scribus handles PDF generation:

First issue is the type of images.

a) JPG should do fine, but if you limit the DPI in the output, Scribus will re-rasterize it.

b) Avoid placing PDF images into Scribus documents. Traditionally Scribus uses ghostscript to rasterize the PDF and embeds a bitmap. That will increase the size and reduce the quality.

c) Other bitmap formats should do fine.

Second issue are the settings for DPI limit and compression. Images should be re-rasterized at most once. If it needs to be re-rasterized by the RIP, it should have 150%-300% of the target DPI. Yes, that increases the file size, but re-rasterizing will produce poor results if source DPI and target DPI are similar but not identical.
For compression, use default or lossless.

Third issue is color management. If you use colormanagement with the right ICC profiles, Scribus will produce good results. If you don't use colormanagement, you'll get the usual color shifts. Especially CMYK data will look very different on screen and on paper. Note that you have to choose the target "Web/Screen" if you want to produce a PDF in the RGB color space — target "Printer" will always procude CMYK colors.

We are very interested to learn of specific issues with Scribus-generated PDFs. The only causes for the case you describe — large PDFs with poor image quality — I can imagine is embedded PDF images or if you request to limit the DPI of JPG images.

Scribus users can always ask for help & advice on our friendly mailing list or our IRC channel on .

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