From Scribus Documentation Project

Jump to: navigation, search



The Print Preview

A simple use of print preview might be to just get a sense of how your document looks without all the non-printing objects visible, such as margins, guides, and frame borders.

Print preview initially generates the same process as printing, in which your document is sent to the preflight verifier and any errors or problems identified, according to your settings in Preferences or the Document Setup. If you have no problems or click “Ignore,” then the document is processed as if being printed, but only a screen display is generated, with some limited ability to change the page display size.

There are some other view adjustments, the only one perhaps needing some explanation is the “Display Transparency” checkbox, which will remind you that what Scribus actually generates are instructions for printing on some medium, so now you see your frames and other objects, with their associated backgrounds if they are not also transparent. Partial transparency will also be shown.

To see how it works, look at the screenshot below. It shows a print preview of our cover page from the Quick Start Guide. You may remember that the color we chose for the text “REMBRANDT” was white. Technically, “white” in CMYK has the values C: 0, M: 0, Y: 0, K: 0. In other words, it doesn’t exist, and that’s why we don’t see anything of the white text in this preview. Why is this information useful? Because you can learn that if you print to anything but white paper, you’ll need a spot color to actually print the color white

Among the settings is a chance to view your document in CMYK, and you can choose to view individual or collected color separations in case this is important before you send your PDF to your printer (local or commercial). If your document contains spot colors, Scribus will list each color with its name below the separation names.

If you are satisfied, you can either close or print.

The Preflight Verifier

We’ll start our explanation of the preflight verifier by talking about its settings in Preferences and Document Setup, with the standard differences between those two repeatedly mentioned at this point. Here is a view of the “Preflight Verifier” section.

Now let’s home in on the settings and cover them one-by-one.

  • At the top in this view we see “PostScript.” This is used for direct printing from Scribus, the print preview, and saving/printing to a PostScript file. Even if you don’t have a PostScript printer, PostScript checks documents intended for your printer, as they are handled by Ghostscript. Other choices here are the PDF versions Scribus can export to: 1.3, 1.4, 1.5 and X-3. Each will have its own settings for all the checkboxes you see here. By selecting one of the preflight “profiles” from the dropdown list, you decide what will be the default file format that the Preflight Verifier will use for checking a document.
  • “Ignore all errors”: Check this at your own peril, especially if you are taking your work to a commercial printer. As you will see, you can always ignore messages and process/export anyway.
  • “Automatic check before printing or exporting” is straightforward.
  • “Check for missing glyphs”: Checks if your chosen font does not include a glyph you are trying to print/export.
  • “Check for objects not on a page”: Since you can freely slide objects from one page to another or even onto your scratch space, this will remind you if anything is even partially outside document boundaries.
  • “Check for overflow in text frames”: One can be easy to fail to see the overflow indicator in the lower right hand corner of a frame somewhere. Scribus will remind you if something’s wrong with text frames.
  • “Check for transparencies used”: Especially important if you are exporting to PDF 1.3, since this does not support transparency.
  • “Check for missing images”: Any empty image frame will trigger this. It may be that no image was ever loaded, or it could be that when a Scribus file was loaded an image could not be found where it should have been.
  • “Check image resolution”: For creation of a PDF for the web, 72 dpi is adequate, for most work that will be printed, 300 dpi is probably a desirable resolution. For some high-quality professional work, much higher values may be desired. You can let Scribus check for too low or too high image resolutions.
  • “Check for placed PDF files”: What you are checking for is a PDF loaded into an image frame, where it will be rasterized or converted to a bitmap. Its resolution may be less than ideal.
  • “Check for PDF Annotations and Fields”: These features are mainly intended for using them on a computer. They may cause issues in professional printing.
    1. Running Preflight Verifier

If you have checked in your Preferences to automatically check on print and export, you will surely run it then. You may also choose to run it at any time by clicking the “traffic light” icon on the toolbar.

The preflight verifier uses 3 different colors to indicate the status of an item in a document. Green means no problems. Red is used for errors like missing images, and yellow is warning that will be triggered for problems like overflowing text frames. Note that an error message from the preflight verifier need not necessarily mean there is problem. If the error is something you can live with, such as an image of lower resolution than you’ve specified, this is a benign choice. But if you ignore attempts to put transparency into a PDF 1.3 document (which doesn’t support transparency), you are asking for potential problems. To be sure you should at least check it by clicking on an object that’s showing a yellow or red dot. Scribus will select this object automatically, so that inspection is easy.

Local Printing

One of the challenges of an advanced DTP application like Scribus, is the ability to generate what can be referred to as “high-level” PostScript or PDF output. By high level, this is meant to describe things like transparency, blends, masks and gradients, usually created by professional grade DTP applications and illustration programs.


First, always make sure you have the newest updated versions of CUPS (Common UNIX Printing System) [1] and Ghostscript available for your distribution. Newer versions of CUPS and Ghostscript are much better at supporting the kinds of high level PostScript level 3 and PDF features Scribus can create.

If you compile Scribus yourself, make sure that you have the CUPS development libraries installed before you start building from source.

Basic Options

  • Print to any installed printer with the defaults, depending on your specific installation. You can also specify printing in grayscale, as well as select the pages or a range of pages. As in other printing dialogs, you can also set the number of copies that will be printed.
  • You can choose different PostScript levels, the default is PostScript level 3.
  • You can open the Print Preview from the Printer dialog
  • You can also use an external print command, for example xpp, or kprinter, as shown below. In a KDE environment it is recommended to use the kprinter command, as the KDE printing manager provides access to a wealth of additional printing options.

Note: You will need to use an alternative printer command with some Linux distributions, notably recent versions of Fedora, including Fedora 8. A simple workaround is to enter lp -d printername, where printername is the specific name of the printer you wish to use.

  • On many Linux and UNIX distributions there are optional gimp-print or gutenprint drivers (gutenprint was known previously as gimp-print). These drivers can be used in any program to give you more exacting print control and in some cases much better output with photographs. Many printers on Linux are supported by more than one driver – typically an “ijs” driver and gimp-print/gutenprint. The main difference is the more refined color and ink density adjustments available in gimp-print/gutenprint. Often it will be slower than other drivers, but the higher output quality may be desirable.

To access setup and configuration for locally installed CUPS printers, there are 2 recommended methods to this with CUPS:

  1. Type: http://localhost:631 in a web browser to use the CUPS web interface.
  2. Use the KDE Print Manager (KPrinter). No other option will give you full access to all the features with CUPS.

You can also use KPrinter in combination with other programs which are not CUPS aware, but can benefit from high quality printing. As an example, Adobe Reader on Linux before version 7.0.5 does not recognize CUPS, but has a command line window to call kprinter. Thus, you can, with the correct settings, print high resolution PDF’s with the same high quality as Scribus.

When you are using true PostScript printers with Linux, especially more complex ones, which have multiple bins, sorting or advanced image and resolution settings, ideally you have the PPD file which comes on the driver disk with the printer. If not, try to download the latest from the manufacturer’s site. A great many printer drivers come as windows .exe files. For instance, any of the HP ones are simple WinZip self extractors. Any recent WINE [2] will open them easily. Then, it is strongly recommended that you run cupstestppd on the file to make sure it follows the PPD specification. If there is an error, and there are often minor ones, the actual specs are here.

cupstestppd is a command line utility which you can use to verify the correctness of PPD files. What is a PPD file? A PPD file is a specially formatted text file which can be used on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows to install a true PostScript printer. On Linux in combination with foomatic and CUPS it is used for all printers to enumerate all the printer’s capabilities. This command line tool verifies that the PPD file meets the specifications for PPD files. If there are issues, it will indicate how to remedy this. cupstestppd is most useful when using the manufacturer’s supplied PPD on Linux.

Advanced Options

  • You can “print” a separation. This enables you to create a 4 color separation of the CMYK inks used in process printing. Each of the inks will print on a separate page. This can also be saved to a PostScript file for later processing. Furthermore, you can also decide to only print single separations, eg. cyan.
  • Mirrored printing: This option enables you to mirror pages on the printer. This is useful when printing things like card layouts, calendars or brochures to compensate for folds and cuts or when duplexing prints.
  • Setting the media size: This option will try to enforce a certain media size in the output device, such as US Letter. It may or may not work, as some printers simply ignore the command.
  • Clipping to page margins: If this option is enabled, objects outside the page margins won’t be printed.
  • Under Color Removal: This is an option to both save ink and to improve the quality of some gray shades. UCR means that gray shades that are composed of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow will be replaced with Black.
  • Converting spot colors to process colors: Inkjet and laser printers can’t print spot colors. Therefore, it’s necessary to print process colors instead. This option will enforce the conversion. For further information, see the section on spot colors.

CUPS Hints

cups-calibrate is a command line program you can run as root to calibrate the printer. This only works with the gimp-print drivers – not other CUPS drivers. This is a step by step procedure which in some cases can improve the sharpness of your prints.

CUPS also has an escputil command line utility for cleaning the heads or checking ink levels on Epson printers. If you have KDE installed, this can be accessed via the KDE Print Manager. Otherwise simply type: escputil --help for options.

Exporting a PostScript File

You can also use the print dialog to export your Scribus document as a PostScript file. Technically, the difference between printing and creating a PostScript file isn’t huge: If you print on paper, a temporary PostScript file will be created and sent to the printer driver. However, if you export to a PostScript file, you create a permanent PostScript file, which can be opened or imported by other programs, or printed directly from the command line.

To create a PostScript file, select “File” in the drop-down list under “Print Destination.” Just like in other file dialogs, you can insert a name for the file and change the output folder. The only difference is that you have to click on the “Print” button to “Save” the file.

Since you are actually creating a virtual print job when you are saving a PostScript file, all printing options are available to you. You should be aware that there is a technical difference between different PostScript levels. Scribus uses its own built-in PostScript engine to create PostScript level 3 files, which is the default. If a printer requires PostScript level 1 or, more likely, level 2, the export is handled by Ghostscript – yet another reason to have the latest GS installed.

Printing with Windows

The printing options on Windows depend on the capabilities of the printer driver, which may vary from printer to printer.

Printing with OS/2, eCOMstation

Printing support for OS/2 is not complete, but PDF export is. You can easily print via Adobe Reader or another PDF viewer as a temporary workaround.



Booklet Printing

When creating a document in Scribus, one typically is working in a very linear fashion, where page 1 is followed by page 2, then 3, and so forth. When you are getting ready to print this out, however, you may not necessarily create your final product in such a simple manner.

For example, let’s imagine you have created an 8-page document, that you wish to print in a booklet form.

We might think of the Scribus document being created like this, with these large numbers simply indicating page number:

Since we want to print a booklet, however, we will want the output to have 2 document pages per printed page, printed on both sides, then stapled together so that when we flip through the booklet we flip in sequential order. The process of rearranging the pages so that this works correctly is called imposition. If you are taking your PDF to a commercial printer, they will have the ability to do this imposition for you. But what if you want to print this out on a local printer and do the imposition yourself?

There are various ways of doing this, several of which are documented on the Scribus Wiki, but here we will confine ourselves to small booklets in which the imposition might be accomplished just using Scribus and your PDF viewer/printer application. For our example we will use Adobe Reader 8.x, which has the ability to print in an n-up manner – putting more than one document page on each printed page.

Imposition Using Scribus and Adobe Reader

For an 8-page booklet, 2 pages per each side of a sheet of paper and printing both sides to assemble as a booklet, we only need 2 sheets of paper, but as we see here, if we maintain the original order, there is no way to make this work:

What we really want is this:

We can accomplish this using the “Save as PDF” dialog. Under “Export Range,” check “Choose Pages,” then in the selection list put 8,1,2,7,6,3,4,5 – don’t think about it too much, just do it.

Note here that you can still save your Scribus file in a normal order, and for that matter you can export different PDF versions, one with imposition, one without.

On to Adobe Reader (8.x+)

Now in Adobe Reader we can import this scrambled document and print. Bring up the print dialog and in the “Page Handling” area under “Page Scaling” choose “Multiple Pages per Sheet,” “2 Pages per Sheet,” “Page Order” is Horizontal. Leave “Orientation” as Portrait. In “Print Range” check “Pages,” then enter 1,2,5,6.

Now click OK, and you will print the front pages above. Once this first print-run is finished, take the pages out, orient appropriately for your printer (make sure the sheet with pages 8 and 1 is on top), then print again as above, but this time under “Pages” enter 3,4,7,8.

Now assemble your booklet. Once you get the hang of this, you will be able to print multiple copies at a time. For example, you could print all, then rearrange the sheets and print all again – this of course requires keeping track of what needs to print with others.

Plan B

Once you see how this works, you may realize that you could have exported your PDF from Scribus without reordering, and simply used this same method in Adobe Reader with these two sets of groups: 8,1,6,3 and 2,7,4,5 – if you look at the diagram above you can once again recognize the pattern – front sides, then back sides. However, without the diagram, it may be easy to make errors.

12 Page Booklet (and Larger)

Since each sheet will contain 4 pages with 2-up printing, multiples of 4 are possible.

The sequence for a 12-page booklet (3 sheets): 12,1,2,11,10,3,4,9,8,5,6,7. Then using the first Adobe Reader printing method, print these two groups: 1,2,5,6,9,10 and 3,4,7,8,11,12.

And for a 16-page booklet (4 sheets): 16,1,2,15,14,3,4,13,12,5,6,11,10,7,8,9. Then using the first Adobe Reader printing method, print these two groups: 1,2,5,6,9,10,13,14 and 3,4,7,8,11,12,15,16.

By now you should be able to see the simplicity of the pattern when printing from Adobe Reader, so that regardless of how many pages you have, you can envision: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16…, where the bold style indicates the pages to print on the first pass, then the remaining ones on the second pass.

What about odd pages or a number not divisible by four? Simply add blank pages as needed at the beginning, the end, or wherever, to add up to one of these multiples of 4.


If you're working on Linux/UNIX desktop with KDE as your desktop environement you can consider yourself lucky, as KDE's print control – KPrinter – will assist you in booklet printing.

The first thing you need to to in the Scribus print dialog is to check “Alternative Printer Command” and to insert “kprinter” (without quotation marks).

Then click “Print”. Depending on the size of your document it will take a while until the KPrinter dialog appears, as Scribus is creating a temporary PostScript file first. Once you see the KPrinter dialog, click on “Properties.” This will bring up the configuration dialog for your printer. In the last tab of the dialog, “Filters,” click on the icon that shows a filter cone:

This will bring up another dialog, in which you can choose between many options, including those for pamphlet printing. Once you have selected an entry, you can edit the underlying commands after clicking on the icon with the spanner. Editing those will require some familiarity with the commands, and you won't have to change anything here.

Click “OK,” and the filter is available to the printer. In the configuration dialog you can also see which commands are used for the printing process and which file formats will be used for input and output. In this case PostScript is used for both, since Scribus creates a PostScript file that will be used by the printer, and the printing system will output a PostScript file, which is sent to the printer.

Click “OK” to save and close the configuration dialog, and in the KPrinter dialog click “Print.”

Preparing Files for Commercial Printing

Printing Technology

If you want to get hundreds, or thousands of copies of your Scribus document onto paper, both quality and economics dictate that at some point you will abandon your desktop printer or local copy shop and go to a printer – someone who owns printing presses.

This brief section cannot replace years of apprenticeship in the many arts and crafts that result in putting words and pictures on paper. Instead, it’s intended to provide enough basic background to help you understand tools and terms used in Scribus.

When we talk about printing these days, we almost always are talking about “offset lithography,” or just “offset.”

There are other printing methods, including:

  • Letterpress: Characters on the surface of (usually) metal blocks. Ink is applied to them, and transferred directly to the paper. The dominant method of printing from Gutenberg to the last half of the 20th century.
  • Flexography: Characters on the inked surface of a flexible medium. Used for printing on surfaces such as plastic bags.
  • Rotogravure: Letters engraved on the inked surface of a metal cylinder. Used for high-speed printing of both high quality magazines and lower-quality catalogs.
  • Screen: Images on the surface of a screen. Used for printing T-shirts, etc.
  • Thermography: Images indented in a metal surface, filled with ink. The resulting ink transfer to paper results in raised lettering, as seen, for example, on wedding invitations.
  • Engraving: Images on the surface of a metal plate. Used for printing currency, expensive stationery, etc.

Offset lithography works like this: Images (type, photographs, line drawings, etc.) are applied to the surface of a plate (usually aluminum, but can be paper or plastic.). The plate is bent into a curve and put on a press cylinder. Ink (which is oily) and water don’t mix, so the image areas of the plate retain ink and the non-image areas are washed clear with water. Ink is then transferred from the plate to a rubber “blanket,” which in turn transfers ink to paper. The plate itself never touches the paper – hence the name “offset.”

For each color, there is a separate press “unit,” each with its own plate. Thus, to print color, one must separate a multi-color page into its constituent colors.

The conventional color offset printing job uses four process colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and black – CMYK. (‘K’ represents black, you can take your choice of a couple of reasons for this definition.) Theoretically, an image area consisting of 100 % cyan, magenta, and yellow should result in a black area, just as 100% red, blue, and green produces black on a computer screen. In fact, however, the result is a muddy brown; that’s one reason black ink is used.

CMY printing is a subtractive process, meaning that the inks are transparent and act as filters for the light reflected off the surface of the printing paper (“substrate.”). Black ink is not transparent. So in order to avoid that muddy-appearing black resulting from 100 % CMY, real black ink is substituted. (Aside from producing better-looking results, it saves money because black ink is cheaper.)

To complicate things a bit, black is not always black. Printers and designers often prefer “rich black,” which is 100 percent black ink with some lesser percentage of the transparent inks; as the name suggests, they produce a warmer, sometimes more pleasing look to solid black area. There are several semi-standard definitions of rich black combinations.

And there is also “registration color.” While black is 100% black and 0% C,M,& Y, registration color is 100 percent of all four. It is used to print registration and crop marks outside the margin of the printed page, and since it must appear on all four plates, must have 100% of all four colors.

Registration marks, which look sort of like bull’s eyes, are used to indicate to the press operator that the several color plates print on exactly the correct place on the paper. Crop marks, which look like this, are used to guide the bindery in cutting printed sheets to the exact dimensions of the finished product. See Bleed and Print Marks in the Scripter chapter for more information about their use in Scribus.

All of this color stuff is irrelevant, of course, if your document is to be printed in black and white (including greyscale images.) It’s totally relevant if your document will have color on every page. Things get still more complicated if you plan to have color on some but not all pages (and pay only black and white rates for the black and white pages). This is where a visit to your printer becomes vital.

A book, magazine, catalog, etc. with a mixture of color and black and white pages is often printed on different presses, one for color, another for B&W. Depending on the size of the press, there may be as few as two and maybe as many as 64 pages on each side of a “signature,” a press sheet that will later be cut and folded into a book. Registration is still important for B&W pages, but less so, as there are no separate plates to align, just pages on opposite sides of a sheet. The process of arranging pages on a sheet is called “imposition,” and it’s complicated enough to have produced university master’s theses. But the bottom line is that the number of pages on a press sheet in a mixed color and B&W environment determines totally where color pages can appear in your document.

Be Prepared

If there is any generic advice we could give, it would be to please talk to your printing company before you submit a job to them. Preventing misunderstandings and discussing your goals will more than likely prevent 90% of the potential problems.

It always is a good idea to understand as much about the various parameters and requirements that your commercial printer may need to know or make use of with your print job. There are resources in this manual which you should be familiar with as you get your work ready for printing, namely: Color Management and Spot Colors, PDF Export, Fonts and Font Technology, Working with Images.

Ask Questions

  • If they accept PDF, which level? PDF 1.3 (Acrobat 4), PDF 1.4 (Acrobat 5), PDF 1.4 (Acrobat 6) or PDF/X-3 (ISO Standard)? PDF/X-3 is the most advanced for commercial printing, and is expressly designed to assure good color fidelity between systems. If they can recommend specific ICC profiles to use, then all the better. You are more likely to encounter printers equipped to handle PDF/X-3 in Europe, where it has been more readily adopted.
  • Will they be converting the PDF to other formats like EPS? Unless the printer’s systems are using PDF 1.4, this is not a recommended solution, since not all page layout applications are capable of supporting some of the advanced PostScript Level 3 or PDF 1.4 features Scribus supports.
  • Can they provide an ICC profile of their printing equipment if color fidelity is critical?
  • What is the PostScript level of their RIP? This can be a determining factor in how you prepare the files. If their RIP is, there should be no problems in this regard.
  • Do they require an additional bleed area for your documents? It’s important for you to know this before you start laying out pages, as it will affect the way you work.
  • If you are having trouble understanding the feedback you’re getting, let your printer know. You can also ask on the Scribus mailing list or on IRC, since often there is someone knowledgeable who can answer your questions.
  • In any case you should ask for a contact proof from the printer, so that you can see what the final print will look like. Many printing companies even require you to sign the proof, and you shouldn’t hesitate to do this if it meets your expectations. Since this signed proof amounts to a contract, be sure to check the proof very carefully in all respects. It’s an assurance for both sides, as in case of an alleged misprint, the result of the print can be compared to the proof.
Personal tools