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Scribus vs InDesign

Is Scribus (OpenSource) a viable alternative to InDesign for publication (PDF)?


  • To be honest, you are not really Desk Top Publishing. That may seem strange to say, but I had a DTP prog years ago, and it was exactly that. It allowed people to create entire publications to print out on their own machines or to take to a local print shop, often as that print out! When I arrived at Lulu I discovered I needed to use Word because Lulu's Wizards expected a docx or PDF of pages, minus a cover, etc. Word is far cheaper than the bells & whistles InDesign and does all that you need. Even Save As a PDF.  I don't know if that's helpful to you, but if you are after a free prog I would suggest this >>
  • Open Office and Word are great for simple text layouts, but for a book rich in graphics and featuring complex layouts (like a text book or manual), Word and it's alternatives rarely make the grade.
    So, if you're just laying out a novel, Kevin's advice is likely the best bet for you.
    If you're working on a more complex layout, I've found Scribus to be great as a free program. I've only used it a little and came into it with a lot more knowledge about InDesign, so getting comfortable with the interface was a fairly tall order. But once i got rolling, I was able to manage layouts in the same way I've done using InDesign.
    Another alternative that's in a free beta phase right now is Affinity Publisher. My understanding is that the software will be paid once they officially release, but if you're looking for something closer to the InDesign experience, Affinity beats Scribus in my book.

  • I use a decade-old edition of Pagemaker (the predecessor to InDesign). It does just what I need it to and, as old as it is compared to InDesign, I still have much more control over the layout of my digital books than I would with Word. That being said, this is mostly true with graphics-intensive books where, for instance, there may not be only a number of images on a page but captions and other design elements as well. It also gives me a lot of freedom in doing things such as custom drop caps and other small details.

    Word, however, works just fine for novels and other books that are primarily text.
    Black Cat Studios
  • Microsoft would disagree about Word not being suitable for pages with lots of pictures, etc., on,  but speaking personally, I only cover mine with words. :)
  • I’m sure they would disagree! But I did say pages with pictures, captions and other design elements. When layouts begin to become complex, software dedicated specifically to page design does work better.
    Black Cat Studios
  • Indeed, I liked the DTP prog I used to use, but it would only save as a file that only it could open! Strange but true.
  • ZethyZethy Reader
    Scribus has for years been my go-to application for everything graphical, with occasional post-processing in gimp. Great for making link buttons on a tablet-friendly website. My present project (music theory) is heavy on custom glyphs via the bezier tool. 85 pages, and the PDF is just 3.4 MB, 1/9th the size of the Scribus sourcefile.

    Glad to be here. Lulu looking pretty good so far.
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