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Revision as of 15:36, 10 December 2010 by Malex (talk | contribs) (→‎Loading fonts)
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Other languages: Polski (pl) Portuguese (pt_BR)

Work in progress

a.l.e: i'm trying to reformat this FAQ as a list of question *and* answers which -- i hope so -- will be easier to search through. if i don't succeed, please revert to the last version before the 13 december 2008.

How to fill a FAQ entry: you're welcome to add your entries to the FAQ. If possible, try to keep the FAQ entries as short as possible (and add links to one or more other wiki entries if necessary) and write about one topic at a time.

When to add a FAQ section?: the goal is to make simple to find a FAQ entry. So there should not be too many titles but the sections should not get too long or general either...

  • I don't think we need to replicate information that's easily available via and/or the Help Browser. Moreover, an FAQ is not a manual. --C schaefer 01:52, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

Installing and running Scribus

Which Scribus should I install on my computer?


How do I get Scribus for Linux?

  • If you don't need anything fancy, use your packet manager to install Scribus (synaptics, yum, apt-get, ...). This is the preferred way to install Scribus.
  • If you want to be more up to date than your distribution is, you can add Scribus's own repositories. They are available for Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, CentOS, Red Hat, OpenSuse, SUSE Linux Enterprise, and Mandriva. This is the preferred way to install Scribus.
  • If you want to test the newest feature (or if there are no binaries for your platform) you can compile the source code you get from sourceforge or from the subversion server (svn://

How do I get Scribus for OS X?

  • The stable version is only available through Fink or Darwinports
  • Snapshots of the development version are availabe on Sourceforge.
  • At the moment, there is no (easy) way to compile yourself Scribus for OS X
  • You can get a Ghostscript .dmg from here
  • Images (.dmg) for more recent development versions won't work on OS X 10.4. If you want to install Scribus 1.3.8 or later you will have to install it through Fink:
    • Install Fink.
    • Then install finkcommander.
    • Activate the unstable packages (fink commander > preferences > fink, Use unstable packages").
    • Install scribus-135+ from sources or binaries (if you also install qt4 from sources, it will take a long time, but it will work).

How do I get Scribus for Windows?

Which version should I use?

New users doing productive work should stick with the stable version ( However, if you don't care about some minor incoveniences, you may want to use 1.3.8+ for new projects, since it has many more features than and will become the stable 1.4 version soon.

As a rule of thumb: all versions that have an odd number as a second (minor) version number (1.1, 1.3, 1.5, 1.7) are unstable/development versions, all version with an even minor number are stable versions (1.0, 1.2, 1.4, 1.6, ...)
1.3.3.x is an exception and has been declared stable because 1.2 was too old and 1.4 was too far away.

Stable version is the stable version – use it for your normal work.

Development version

1.3.8+ is the development version. You can use it if you want to use features which are not in the stable version. It has now become quite usable, but keep in mind that if you save work with it, you will not be able to then load it into, since the file format has changed. You can load a file created with or an earlier version into later versions. If you are using Mac OS X 10.5+, 1.3.8 is recommended since it avoids some Qt3-related problems, and also because a universal binary is available.

(todo: link to a page which describes how to protect yourself when you're using the development version)

1.3.4 is an old unstable Qt3-based version which unfortunately was latched onto by some distros. It had a number of bugs, most of which were never fixed. It quickly led to the 1.3.5 version which was based on Qt4, and has since advanced to 1.3.8 mentioned above.

Experimental branch

1.5 is the current experimental branch: Only for people wanting to experiment with the latest Scribus features should use it. Remember that if you use this latest version, its file format will not allow its files to be loaded on any older versions.


Since its beginnings, Scribus has always maintained backward compatibility, so that every later version will be able to load a file from an earlier version. Because new features are added, the reverse is not true. For example, you can't load a 1.3.6 file into, but you can load 1.3.3.x files into 1.3.6+ and 1.5.

So which one should I use?

If you are still wondering, please use the stable – it will be hard to go wrong with this one (exception: Mac OS X as noted above). If you have purchased or plan to purchase Scribus: The Official Manual, the book was based on the 1.3.3.x series, but it can be used with later versions, too.

How do I compile Scribus?

There may be a few reasons for you to compile Scribus yourself:

  • There is no current Scribus for your platform (like Linux PPC or Mac OS X 10.4).
  • You need a fix that has been applied after the latest binary snapshot has been released.
  • You want to follow Scribus development to stay up to date and to test.

In the first case you should download a snapshot source package from Sourceforge. In all the other cases you're better off if you get the source code via subversion.

Further reading:



Install-related problems

Where is my Ghostscript?

You have successfully installed Scribus and now you see a warning that Ghostscript is missing.

One approach is to simply ignore the warning, as you only need it for EPS import and the Print Preview. Or you can install it later.


It's highly unlikely you would ever get this alert under Linux, unless you have installed Ghostscript in some quite nonstandard location. If it happens anyway, just use your package manager to install Ghostscript.

Mac OS X

Once Ghostscript has been installed, go to Scribus > Preferences > External Tools, and browse (Change...) for the gs executable (the path will be something like "/usr/local/bin/gs").

Microsoft Windows
  • First of all, you need to download the Ghostscript installer.
  • Once installed, Scribus needs to find it, which may or may not work automatically on Windows. If Scribus doesn't detect the Ghostscript executable after the installation, go to File > Preferences > External Tools, and browse ("Change...") for the gs executable. For 32-bit, its gswin32c.exe, the important thing being that "c", since there is another executable without a "c" in the file name.


  • Where are the preferences located?
    • On Linux: /home/<user>/.scribus
    • On Mac OS X: /Users/<user>/Library/Preferences/Scribus
    • On OS/2 and eComStation: %HOME%\.scribus
    • On Windows 2000, XP and 2003: C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\.scribus
    • On Windows Vista and 7: C:\Users\<user>\.scribus

GUI / Interface


  • On Windows, you may not be able to see the page or the buttons. Please make sure:
    • that you're not using third party Windows themes. Lots of those themes are broken and show similar behavior with other applications. You have to disable those themes in Control Panel > Display Properties > Themes and/or Appeareance.
    • that your display is set to use 32 bit depth: Control Panel > Display Properties > Settings – set display bit depth to 32 bit


  • Scribus picks up your environment language automatically. If you want to use another language for your GUI, just go the menu File > Preferences, and in the "General" section set the language you prefer.



When you put an image in an image frame, Scribus will load that file into RAM (chip memory). Thus, if you have many large images in your document, loading may take very long and consume lots of memory, which can slow down your system. A possible solution to the loading issue is to reduce the image preview resolution for your document: Go to File > Document Setup > Tools, and click on the image frame icon (second from top). In the "Images" dialog, set "On Screen Preview" to "Low Resolution Preview", and click "OK". Note that you can also change the resolution for individual image frames from their context menu. In the context menu you can even switch off the preview of the image.

A large document with many high-resolution images may exhaust your RAM. Once you completely fill that up, along with any swap space, Scribus may freeze or crash. Here are some pointers:

  • Use an image editor to crop images to the section that you actually want to use in the image frame, then use that smaller file.
  • Decrease the resolution/size of the image file itself. For most printing targets 300 dpi is a good idea, whereas higher resolutions rarely make sense.
  • If you create a PDF for the web, much lower resolutions are recommended, e.g, 72-90 dpi, since monitors don't have a higher resolution and the files will be significantly smaller.
  • Use a computer with enough memory for your work. As a rule of thumb, there's only one thing better than a lot of RAM: even more RAM.
  • If you are making a large document with a large number of high-res images, you can manage by breaking up your work into 20-30 page sections, making PDFs of the sections, then joining them together with a program such as pdftk.


  • You can import .odt files. Scribus will recognize most text formatting options and style sheets, and you can decide how Scribus will handle style sheet during import.
  • You can directly import Microsoft Word (.doc) documents, but you will lose all formatting. You better use and save the document in the .odt format.
  • Microsoft RTF documents can't be read from Scribus: you should use to convert them to .odt or save them in the .doc format from Microsoft Word.
  • For the use of customtext filters see: Using the Text Filter.


Q: A:
Can Scribus 1.3.3.x import an existing pdf form and add fillable fields to it? No, Scribus can import PDF, but they are imported as images currently. The only way to edit a PDF form is with Adobe Acrobat full version. Scribus can create PDF forms without a problem and it is very versatile.
Can Scribus 1.3.3.x import the .ps file from which an existing pdf was created (with Ghostscript)? Scribus can import a wide variety of EPS and PS files with most content imported as native Scribus objects.

Importing files from other programs

You can import the content of .odt files into text frames. Text formatting and style sheet will be kept, but not tables, footnotes or images.

Microsoft Word

You can import text from .doc files into text frames, but you will lose all formatting and style sheet. If you want to keep them, you should convert your files to the OpenDocument file format (*odt).

Adobe InDesign

An import filter for InDesign IDML files has been added to the experimental 1.5svn version, but it can't be backported to 1.3.8+.

Quark Xpress

An import filter for XPress Tag files (*.xtg) has been added to the experimental 1.5svn version, but it can't be backported to 1.3.8+.

Microsoft Publisher


Creating documents


You can manage the following issues:

  • Currently, Scribus isn't very good at handling documents that are longer than 30 pages. You should split your work into several Scribus documents, export each of them to PDF and then join them into a single PDF file, for example, with pdftk.
  • You can set the value for the first page number or change the page numbering scheme in a document (see: Pagination).
  • You can create text frames that are automatically linked/chained when you create a new document.

But not these:

  • You can't create a multi-level table of contents (TOC).
  • You can't automatically create a table of contents over several files.
  • You shouldn't make long chains of text frames, as this will slow down Scribus significantly.
  • Index and footnotes aren't available, yet.


Create a file of the size of the whole flyer and use guides to separate the different "columns". (more...)

Typical errors

  • If you're using Windows and have a custom theme installed, you won't get any new page displayed when creating a new document: use the default Win theme or "Classic", and everything will work fine

Page formatting

  • When creating a new document you can choose a "Document Layout": in most cases you can safely ignore this option (it will only affect the way the document is shown on screen). You certainly don't need it if you are trying to create a flyer or a leaflet! (more...)

Page numbers

Why is Insert > Character > Page number grayed out? In order to insert a page number character into a text frame, you have to be in edit mode (using the "Edit content of frame" icon on the toolbar, double-clicking the frame, or by entering the Story Editor.
Why do I only see page numbers up to 9? In the 1.3.3.x versions of Scribus you have to insert as many page number characters as there are digits in the page number (e.g. ## for the pages from 10 to 99).

How can I do Pagination?

There is no single "pagination" concept in DTP. Yet, the word is used often and can have several meanings:

  • If you want to add page numbering, see the page number howto.
  • If you want to impose the pages you have created with Scribus, please have a look at the howtos about imposition.
  • If you want to layout several pages on one Scribus page, please think again. There are some exceptions to this rule, like creating a threefold brochure.
  • If you want to create some pages and let text flow from page to page, you can learn more about this issue by reading the Scribus tutorial.

Paragraph formatting

Character formatting


  • The hyphenation language can be choosen in the "Hyphenation" section of the menu File > Preferences.
  • The language for the spell checker (if available in your Scribus version) can be selected in a character style.


  • Why are there so few solid colors available?
    • The easiest way to add colors is by creating the colors you need in Edit > Colors.
    • You can import colors from other Scribus documents or palette files.
    • If you want to select another default palette with pre-defined colors, you have to close all documents and choose one in the Edit > Colors dialog.


Loading fonts

  • For a list of good font resources see Where can I get good fonts?.
  • Scribus will automatically discard fonts that may cause problems in offset printing.
I'm using Linotype Fontexplorer X as font management tool. Will Scribus support activation and deactivation with this tool? There are no plans to and Scribus comes with the ability to add font paths independent of the operating system making this somewhat redundant.

Embedding and vectorizing fonts

see the section on PDF output.


Can I edit PDF files with Scribus? No.

PDF as file format was never ever meant to editable in the conventional sense. Internally it is non-linear in layout and is optimised for compactness. It is better to think of PDF as electronic paper which is printed. You cannot 'unprint' paper easily can you ?

There are o­nly two applications which can "edit" PDF. Enfocus Pit Stop Pro and's Box of Tricks are special pre-press plugins for Acrobat Pro. Using these is best if you have a fair amount of knowledge about pre-press and PDF.


Is Scribus capable of reading and combining separate pdf files into a single file (for example including documents as attachments in the end of an article)? No, Scribus can import PDF files within image frames via Ghostscript. There are other tools to handle this such as pdftk and multivalent.



  • The PDFs generated by Scribus are of very high quality and should never be a problem when delivered to a print shop.
  • Bugs related to the PDF generation are treated with very high priority by the Scribus team.
Are there preferred viewers for veiwing Scribus exported PDF? Yes, definitely.


1. Adobe Reader 5.0.10+

2. GSview


Not recommended:


Please see:

When i create a doc and export it to pdf format, can someone with a full version of Acrobat edit the PDF? Is there something I need to do in order for this to be allowed? You can edit PDF with sometimes very limited ability in increasing order of capabilities.

1) Adobe Illustrator can edit single page PDF and usually has no issues opening a Scribus PDF in my experience. Issues: Font substitutions when opening saving.

2) Full Acrobat Professional 5+. Note Acrobat 5.0.5 sometimes will give an "unable to parse" error with some Scribus PDFs. We believe this is an Acrobat 5.0.5 bug. Acrobat 6.0+ does not give this message. Issues: Sometimes text is not easy to edit and is not recommended. Extracting images or vectors is not an issue.

3) Acrobat Professional Add ons - The two best known are PitStop or Quite a Box of Tricks to truly edit parts of a PDF. These are specialist pre-press tools which are focused on pre-flight and adjustment of PDFs for commerical printing.

That said, PDF was never intended to be an 'editable' format, but a final 'electronic paper' format. Except for pre-press work, planning on a document workflow based on PDF editing is surely frustrating and takes some knowledge of the non-linear format of PDF internally.

Lastly, you need not do anything special, except not encrypt it.

What is the difference between PDF 1.3, PDF 1.4,1.5 and the recently released PDF 1.6? PDF 1.2 = Acrobat 3.0 - relatively obsolete now

PDF 1.3 = Acrobat 4.0 - The first version of PDF which truly had all the needed features to support "press-ready" PDF's including color managment, ICC profiles etc. It also added javascript, interactive and multimedia capabilities. This standard is probably the safest to send if you are unsure of the capabilities of the receiver of your file. PDF/X-3 and a number of commercial print work flows are based on PDF 1.3.

PDF 1.4 = Acrobat 5.0 - Actually, introduced with Illustrator 9, The main difference to concern Scribus users is PDF 1.4, has both transparency and alpha transparency capabilites, which make a major difference in where a PDF with these features can be printed. It takes wither the latest commerical RIP's or a Level 3 Postscript printer to use these features properly. The latest versions of Ghostscript suport the advanced PDF 1.4 features Scribus can create when exporting PDF.

PDF 1.5 = Acrobat 6.0 - The release of PDF 1.5 specs to accompanied the release of Acrobat 6. Among the most interesting for Scribus users: many improvements for "press-ready" PDF, the capability to have true layering within the PDF, PDF-X "pre-flight" capability, more security and interactive features, like the ability to add comments which are separate from the original doc.

PDF 1.6 = Acrobat 7.0 - Closely models the PDF 1.5 spec with more digitial security,multimedia and workflow features. Unfortuntately, few viewers or printers can support the latest two PDF specs.


  • Supported versions: PDF/X-3 (1.3.3.x and 1.3.8+), PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-4 (1.5svn only, no backport possible).
  • ICC profiles must be installed.
  • You have to enable color management.
  • You have to fill the "info string" in the "Pre-Press" tab of the PDF export dialog.


Basically, forms created by Scribus can be filled with Acrobat Reader and Okular.

Embedding and/or outlining fonts

  • Scribus will try to embed your fonts when exporting to PDF.
  • Fonts with more than 2048 glyphs will be automatically converted to outlines to reduce the size of the PDF. This font-specific setting can be changed in Preferences > Fonts by unchecking the "Subset" option for a font.

Scripting / Command line

  • You can write Python scripts which will run inside Scribus.
  • If you have questions about scripting you should post them to the mailing list or join the Scribus IRC channel.

Old items



PDF issues



Printing issues


Pages in category "FAQ"

The following 38 pages are in this category, out of 38 total.