T4G: Interlude: Scribus 1.4.0 Review

Scribus — Open Source Desktop Publishing

Scribus 1.4.0 is a full-featured page layout program for Windows, Linux, and the Macintosh. It comes with good solid documentation. Most of the ways to use the program is left to the user’s imagination, however. There is an excellent printed manual for an earlier version that will help, too. Some of the more advanced, and innovative features equal those found in commercial desktop publishing (DTP) programs such as Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress.

A few of the features, such as the LaTeX rendering and the PostScript handling need other packages to be installed before installing Scribus. GhostScript, the most common and versatile of the Open Source PostScript distillers is recommended at a minimum.

Color management includes the expected CMYK and RGB spot colors. There is also the interesting feature for the colorblind user, which changes the display to accommodate that condition.


Scribus has a couple of issues; as do all open source software that are works in progress.

The major issue that bugged me with earlier versions of Scribus was its speed. Previous versions had different display engines and back-ends for the different operating systems (I use Windows XP and 7). The problem has been solved in version 1.4.0. I’ve not tried Scribus on Linux or the Macintosh but the improvement is a major benefit to all users.

My other issue with Scribus is its inability to handle MS Word and OpenOffice.org (OOo) documents. The type of writing I do and would most want to use Scribus for is academically oriented. Footnotes and endnotes are not handled well, or at all. For most of my work, I’ll stick with a regular word processor. Newsletters, brochures, and other such publications are still doable with Scribus, and I plan to do some work with those types of publications, too.

Nice Work, Guys and Gals

Given that Scribus is a complex and intricate program, I think it is great that it is on the Open Source software market. There has been a need for this kind of program at a good price for a long time. Scribus has been available in some form since 2001, but it was only recently ported to the Windows platform, which is when I discovered it. I enjoy working with the new version much more than I did the old, 1.3.5, or whatever it was that was last “stable.”


Genealogists and genealogical societies on a budget and which need a great newsletter are advised to look into Scribus 1.4.0, a mature product with a strong following and constant development to improve it.

For myself, I’ll stick with OOo’s word-processing tools for longer and intricate textual documents. For more display-oriented work, I consider the strong feature set available in Scribus as an improvement over MS Word and OpenOffice.org. You can find Scribus here.