In the immediate aftermath of my mother’s recent death, I offered to prepare the order of service for her funeral. I felt this was one small service I could perform for her, as well as presenting me with an ideal opportunity to re-acquaint myself with Scribus, the free and open source desktop publishing (DTP) package.

screenshot of Scribus

My mother’s order of service being edited in Scribus. Click on image for full-sized version

When it comes to operating systems, Scribus will run on Linux, other Unix-like operating systems, Mac OS X, Haiku, Microsoft Windows, OS/2 and eComStation; and that’s pretty impressive for a start.

Scribus is designed for layout, typesetting and preparing files for professional quality image setting equipment. It can also create animated and interactive PDF presentations and forms. Example of its use include writing small newspapers, brochures, newsletters, posters and books.

Scribus supports most major bitmap formats, including TIFF, JPEG and Adobe Photoshop. Vector drawings can either be imported or directly opened for editing. The long list of supported formats includes Encapsulated PostScript, SVG, Adobe Illustrator, and Xfig. Professional type/image setting features include CMYK colors and ICC color management. It has a built-in scripting engine using Python.

Text can be imported from OpenDocument (ODF) text documents, such as those produced by LibreOffice Writer, Microsoft Word, PDB (Palm OS) and HTML formats, although some limitations apply. OpenDocument text (.odt) files can typically be imported along with their paragraph styles, which are then created in Scribus. HTML tags which modify text, such as bold or italic will also be handled pretty well.

Scribus is available in more than 24 languages and is released under the GNU General Public Licence (GPL).