Scribus: Open Source Desktop Publishing Review - Scribus: Open Source Desktop Publishing Review


Here are some key things Scribus can do:

• Create single or multi-page documents with text, photos and vector graphics, imported from a good range of mainstream applications.

• Handle CMYK and spot colours and include ICC profiles.

• Manipulate objects within document-wide layers.

• Create and edit frames, make them visible or hidden, rotate, scale them and add rounded corners.

• Directly create PostScript and PDF files from documents and perform pre-flight checks to make sure there are no formatting nasties to mess up your trip to the printer.

There are several unusual extras in the program, which help speed page layout. The drawing tools are unusually versatile for a DTP, with predefined shapes, a regular polygon tool, and bezier curves. There’s comprehensive node editing and you can attach text to a path for visual effects. You can also flow text inside a shaped frame and link frames to flow text through multi-page documents.

Scribus has good rotation capabilities on all objects and with rotated text, you can use the up and down cursor keys to move it clockwise and anti-clockwise, a degree at a time.

Text can be entered directly on the page, but there’s also a separate text editor, so you can make quick and dirty changes to imported copy, while putting together Scribus pages. Scribus doesn’t use modeless editing in the MS Publisher sense, as you still have to create frames for text and graphics before pasting their contents, but a text frame can be double-clicked to activate the text cursor within it.

Scribus offers table creation, but only in the sense of creating a series of grouped frames. It’s still up to you to select the cells you want, before making content or layout changes.

One of the delights of the program is the ease with which you can produce PostScript and PDF. A simple one-click button calls up the export dialogue and you can even choose PDF/X3, the ISO standard for the format: Scribus was justifiably proud of being the first application to support this. The program can import PDFs too, though it can’t edit their contents directly.


Scribus is a robust, well-featured DTP program, ideal for shorter documents. It offers a lot, with an improved preview mode and better style handling from a dedicated style palette. There are two provisos: make sure you have good fonts installed and spend a little time looking into the corners of the program. It may not be quite as smooth as InDesign, but most of the important tools are in place… and without flexing your plastic.

Trusted Score

Score in detail

  • Features 8
  • Value 10
  • Usability 8

Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.