Creating a newsletter

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This article is mostly based on this thread from the Scribus mailing list: Using Scribus for a newsletter

Your first newsletter

The planning for a a newsletter doesn't really depend on the DTP you are using.

The tutorial assumes that you:

  • want to use a Desktop Publishing application
  • that you're here trying to use Scribus for that specific function
  • are making a first time attempt to create this newsletter (or expanding your knoweldge on the subject)
  • have an interest in creating a 4 page newsletter
  • have no previous documents, no templates with which to start

Creating the document

  1. When you open the application for the first time, you will be looking at a single page
    (there are exceptions, but for the moment, you are not going to consider them).
  2. (Screenshot needed here)
  3. It is at this point -- not later --that you should add pages to your document.
    For a 4 page newsletter, add 3 pages before you take any other steps.
    This is also probably a good time to save your document -- which is completely blank --
    with an appropriate file name: e.g., 2008_10_newsletter.sla
    (in this context "document" is now synonymous with "file," even though it contains no content)
  4. OK. You want your newsletter to have a logo and name on page 1, and you want that logo and name to be always in the same place on page 1. Therefore, you do NOT put those items on page 1. You put them on a master page. When you first create that master page with any graphics and text, it exists independently of the other 4 pages in your document (which are still blank). Think of that master page as a 5th page.
  5. (Screenshot needed here)
  6. When you are satisfied with the look of the master page -- and remember,
    you include only unchanging items (again, with some exceptions, for the moment ignored)
    on that master page -- you then apply that master page to page 1.
  7. (Screenshot needed here)
  8. When you then look at page 1, you see all the items on page 1 that you entered
    into the master page. you cannot change those master page items while you are on
    page 1 (If you need to make changes to any master page item, you must go back to
    the master page to do so).
  9. But you can add more content to page 1, either text or graphics, by adding
    a text or graphics frame to page 1 and then filling that frame with appropriate content.
    You can do that with any page that has a master page applied to it. That way, the
    unchanging content is protected from inadvertent changes, and will remain precisely
    positioned for every subsequent issue.
  10. If you start with 4 blank pages (for a 4 page newsletter), then there is no need (although it is possible) to add pages later. OK. Let's say you have a master page for the front page (or title page). Lets say also that you want a "header" on the following pages, but you want the "left side" page header to look different than the "right side" page header (or they can be the same).
  11. The way to accomplish this is to create another master page; call it "Body Text," or 2 new master pages, "Body Text Left" and "Body Text Right." You place the header and the command that creates page numbers automatically into that (or those) master page(s). At this point, other than page 1 with the Title Master page info, all the pages are still blank. Now apply the Body Text master page(s) to pages 2 to 4. Pages 2 to 4 will have the header information--and nothing else.
  12. To add more content to any of the pages (e.g, "text and a photo"), place text and/or graphics frames where you want them on pages 1 to 4 (not on the master pages), and then place the appropriate content into those frames. Remember that at this point all 4 pages have some content in them that came from a master page, PLUS the additional content you just added.

More specifically about Scribus:

  • The New Document dialog box (displayed at startup) you can directly create 4 pages.
  • To create a master page, Click on Edit/Master Pages. The small box that is

displayed has several icons just below the title bar. Click on the first one, which is "Add a new master page." Give it a name (e.g., Title) and click OK.

You may find it helpful to see another newsletter that uses master pages (created with InDesign CS3). If you connect to, you will see the 12 page newsletter I described in an earlier message. The logo at the top left, the name at top center, the photo at top right, the logo near the bottom left, and a few other items on page 1 are all on a master page. Most everything else was added directly to page 1. On subsequent pages, you will see the page number, publication name and date at the bottom of each page. I used master pages for those items, with all other content added directly to the page. I don't claim that this method is the only method to create a newsletter--only that it works for me. Note, however, that this newsletter is published only to the web site -- that is, no hard copies -- so you don't see a page arrangement suitable for printing (you don't see the imposition required for printing).

Mike Morris

I publish a 12 page newsletter on a monthly basis (not, at present, using Scribus, but the concepts apply). In that newsletter, I have several master pages. One of those master pages, which I call Title master page, contains a logo, the name of the newsletter, and some text (volume no., etc.). I have other master pages that I use for the newsletter that contain only the name of the publication, the date, and the page number--think of this info as a "footer." Another way to think of the master page is as a background that is always part of the newsletter. A background may appear on one page, multiple pages, or all pages. You can also think of a master page as a partial pattern for a page (or multiple pages).

A template, however, is more than just a master page (or more than master pages). A template contains (or can contain) many other elements; e.g., formatting commands (including Styles) and master pages. In other words, a template is (or can be) a pattern for a complete document. A master page is a pattern for a page (or pages) within a document.

I could save a version of my newsletter without the articles, but with the master pages, as a template. That way, for each new newsletter, the common elements will always be in the correct place: on the pages(s) and in the document. I then need only add the articles appropriate for the new month's issue.

Could you create a newsletter template without any master pages? Yes, you could. But then you are not making use of a very important feature of any true DTP application: keeping common elements precisely positioned with every new issue. I suggest to you, that once you learn how to use master pages, you will realize just how effective this feature is. Perhaps the use of a well-known advertising phrase will drive home the message: "Don't leave home (your document) without it (master pages)." Oh, well, a feeble attempt at humor.

Could you create a newsletter with master pages, but not create a template? Yes, you could. Provided, when you start a new issue, and you open last month's newsletter to create this month's newsletter, that you remember to save the newly opened document immediately, with a NEW FILE NAME before you make ANY changes. That is assuming, of course, that you want to keep copies of previous issues.

Regarding your question on how to prepare the newsletter for a printer: am I correct in concluding that you want a "booklet" format? By this I mean--using a 4 page newsletter as an example--pages 1 and 4 on the "outside," and pages 2 and 3 on the "inside," with the newsletter folded to 8.5 x 11 (and therefore the actual printed sheet size is 11 x 17)?

If you want a booklet format, Scribus, at present, needs an additional utility to accomplish this process, called imposition. You can find information on several alternative imposition utilities (and how to use them) at those links provided by Louis Desjardins in his response of September 13, repeated here for convenience:

Mike Morris

Don't create a template. Create your newsletter instead, then use the last issue as a template for the next. Or delete the text (except the ads and other elements that will remain the same) then save that as a template. This is what works best/easiest for me, but by all means find what works for you and do that!

Ads don't change much, but they do on occasion. I always use the last issue as the next issue's template. Just remember to save the "last" as the "next" before making changes or you could overwrite the "last" one. When you do this it's easy to select and cut and ad, then paste it on another page, or move it about a page -- whatever is necessary.

Remember, a "master page" only has items that will be on every single page of the document. A "template" is a skeleton of the entire document, so you need to make it all first. Then open a new document using the template. The master page you created for the template is saved with the template.

Frank Swygert

Frank is spot on here, Joe. You can easily totally forget about templates and Master Pages, and just create your first newsletter. If later you want to create a template from your newsletter, or create one or more Master Pages from your newsletter, fine, but it seems you need to know much more about how to use all the other elements of Scribus than worry about templates and master pages.

Gregory Pittman

Importing the layout from an existing newsletter

Managing the issues

At this point, you can save the document -- with all 4 pages, mostly blank -- with another name, such as Nsltr_template (Scribus has "Save as template" option). But before you go any further, close the template--which is a document containing, at the very least, master pages--and make sure you are working on Oct08Nsltr.

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