Preparing Your Book For Print with Scribus

Jeff Montgomery -

While we currently have tutorials for Scribus, we are no longer supporting it and will be removing the tutorials and templates as Scribus can complicate POD files.
Please start using Affinity or InDesign for print-on-demand books, not Word, Microsoft Publisher, Scribd, GIMP, or PDF Maker as these programs can cause issues with specs and layout. Many tutorials mention using Photoshop and Illustrator for image editing only, not for layout.


The new Mac OS update, Catalina, will no longer support 32-bit programs (64 bit only) rendering the current, stable build of Scribus unusable. However, the development version of Scribus is compatible with Mac's new OS. If you are using a Mac and have updated to Catalina, you will have to update your Scribus software to continue to use it.


This tutorial is broken up into sections:
1. What do I need to get started? GhostScript and ICC profiles. 
2. Setting up your Scribus document
3. Color management
4. How to format a book interior for press With Scribus
5. Export your Scribus file as a print-ready PDF interior
6. How to create your hardcover or softcover file in Scribus
7. Tips and things to remember
8. What do I do next?
9. I need more help!


Whether you are preparing files for Standard Color 70 or Premium Color, the preparation is nearly identical, with one exception: cover templates. Be sure to get the specific cover template appropriate for your book interior type from the Template Generator page. If you want to prepare a book in both color formats, you must prepare two different color cover files.

All books going into the print program need two PDF files: the cover file and the interior (or "book block") file. 

The screenshots shown in this tutorial use Scribus 1.4.0 for Mac for the B&W book shots, Scribus for PC for the color book shots, and Acrobat Pro 9 / Acrobat Pro X for Mac. If you are using a different version, some of the instructions and screenshots will be slightly different, but hopefully you can find the right feature in your software version. 

How Do I Get This Software?

Scribus is available for free
Scribus is an Open Source program that brings professional page layout to Linux/UNIX, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp 4/eComStation and Windows desktops.


1. How to Prepare a Print Edition Book with Scribus

Although you have now downloaded and installed Scribus, there are a few more steps you will want to take before you begin working. If you will be doing any of the following, then you will need to download and install GhostScript, which Scribus needs in order to do these tasks:

  1. Exporting a postscript file to produce your PDF
  2. Using the Print Preview function
  3. Using any EPS files in your document

Current GhostScript releases of execution files and zipped tarballs can be downloaded for free from

Although Scribus does come with some basic color profiles that are useful for producing PDFs, you may need to download and install the CGATS21_CRPC1 professional printing color profile (or "ICC profile"), which you can download here. This profile is a common standard in the graphics industry and will ensure that the color information in your press-ready PDF is consistent with standards the printer uses.

If you create or work in a Scribus document without the correct profiles, you cannot change the document later to correct it, so this is an important step.

For installation and more information about Scribus and ICC profiles, go here: profiles


2. Setting up your Scribus Document

For your convenience, we have created templates to make your layout work easier. You can download templates on the Template Generator page.

Open Scribus. Then in the File pull-down menu, open the template. Make sure you are using the right template for your book size.

Click the Windows pull-down and open the Properties window. 

Anatomy of a book page

• The outside edge is the Bleed Line. It may appear black when the page is selected in Scribus. Any art or graphic that is intended to go off the edge of the page must go to with this line.

• The red line just inside the Bleed Line is the Page Edge or Trim Line. When the book is produced, the pages will be cut at approximately this line. Text and art that doesn’t “bleed” should not go past it. All books must be submitted to the correct bleed size, regardless of content.

• The blue line inside the Page Edge is the Safety Area or Live Area. Anything in this area should be safe when pages are cut. Anything that doesn’t bleed should be well inside this and should never go outside of it.

• The black line in the center is the Gutter and is the inside spine of the book.


Grayscale vs Color Printing

There is little difference between grayscale and color press-ready export settings when you have completed your project and are ready to produce your PDF. What makes them different is the color output intent you should set before you begin working in your file.

To choose your output intent, open your Scribus program preferences (not Scribus document set up).

Scroll down the left-hand options and choose PDF Export. Open the Color tab:

  1. Choose Printer for a color export, or
  2. Choose Grayscale for a grayscale export.

Now you’re ready to get to it!



3. Color Management

Once you are ready to export and the book is set up as you would like it, open Document Setup from your File pull-down menu. Make sure that Color Management is turned on (if you are printing in color) and that you have selected "CGATS21_CRPC1" as your document CMYK and printer profiles.

You must have Color Management activated and color profiles assigned in order to export a PDF/X-1a or X/3 for press.



4. Formatting a Book Interior for Press with Scribus

Creating Master Pages

Master Pages allow you to place borders, text, and other information once, after which it will appear on all the pages to which you choose to you apply that setting or information. 

Go to the Insert pull-down menu and select Image Frame.


Click and drag to place the frame for your master page image. You can set the frame size with the Properties window using the X,Y,Z tool, or you can manually resize it by clicking and dragging the blocks on the corners of the box.

Double-click on the box and select the graphic to import.


Use the Image tool in the Properties window to size the image to the box simply by clicking the "Scale to fit Frame Size" button. Tick the checkbox for Proportional (so you can be sure the graphic is not stretched).


If you missed or have forgotten how to find the Properties window, please click the Windows pull-down menu and open the Properties window. (It will be used often, so make a note of this window and its location.)

Once you have the page set the way you would like, go to the Page pull-down menu and select "Convert to Master Page". Name and save your master page.


Click on the page(s) you wish to convert to masters (you can hold the Shift Key down to select multiple), pull-down the Page menu, and select "Apply Master Page". All the pages you chose will autoformat. 

To place simple text, open the file containing your text and select the text you want to place. Right-click and choose Copy.

Go back to your Scribus file and click on the first page inside the text area; right-click on it and choose "Paste to import", and place all the text you selected. It will not yet be formatted, but it will all be there.


Now format the text: Open the Text menu in the Properties window.

Right-click to select all the text and set the basic font and size for the body text.

Justify text by selecting it all and clicking the Left Justify Text box in the menu.


Once you have the body text adjusted, you can go through and set the headers by selecting them and setting the size and font with the Text tool in the Properties window.

Remember, the body text will be small, so use a font that is easy to read without many flourishes. Industry standard for size is 10-pt to 12-pt.

If you have a lot of text to format, you may want to set the body and header styles. Click the Edit pull-down menu and select Styles. In the window that opens, you can set the Headers (Character) and the Basic Body text (Paragraph). Once those are set, select the text to be modified and choose the style that will now appear under the Style Settings in the Text Tool to convert it. It is simple to navigate through the menu and can save you some time in the long run.

Things to avoid as you style the text in your document:

  • Widows: One single word or line at the bottom of a column of text
  • Orphans: One single word or line at the top of a column of text
  • Hyphens between columns of text 

To add art or graphics, first add an Image Frame by clicking the Insert menu and choose Insert Image Frame.


A tab will attach to the cursor. Click and drag to make a box to place the art in.


Before moving the text out of the way of the Image Frame, be sure it is unlocked: Simply double-click the text and make sure the "Is Locked" option is not checked.


Using the Arrow tool from the top menu, resize the text box and size the Image Frame.


When it is arranged, double-click on the Image Frame and select the image to be placed.


The selected graphic will be placed in the box. It still needs to be sized using the Image tab in the Properties window. 


Click "Scale to Frame size", and the graphic will fill the frame. If the Proportional option is selected, the graphic will remain proportionate. If the graphic is larger in width or height, and it can fit proportionally, it will fit to the smaller measure. 


Continue this process with each graphic to place them all.

5. Export Your Interior File as a Press-Ready PDF

Choose the File pull-down menu, select Export, and then Save as PDF. A Preflight Verifier window may open that will allow you to review any errors that appear: Make any adjustments you need to the book before continuing.

Make sure your Preflight Verifier Profile is set to PDF/X-1a or PDF/X-3.


When you are ready to export, click Continue from this window. There, set the following specifications: 

1. Under the General tab, make sure "All Pages" is selected, Compatibility is set to PDF/X- 1a or PDF/X-3, and Maximum Image Resolution is checked and set to 300 dpi (600 dpi if black and white line art is used).


2. Under the Fonts tab, make sure all fonts are embedded.


3. Under the Color tab, make sure Output is set to Printer and "Convert Spot Colors to Process Colors" is checked.


4. Under the Pre-Press tab, check "Use Document Bleeds". DO NOT include any printer marks in your final export.


6. How to Create Your Hardcover or Softcover File in Scribus

Filling out the Cover Template Page

To get the correct file for your book cover, fill out some details we will generate a template and email it to you.

You can find the Template Generator page here. 

Breaking Down the Cover Template

What are all of these colors? Regardless of what type of cover you are producing, the guides will look the same, just in different proportions, and the book data will appear in different places depending on what format it is.

• Pink Boxes show the Safe Area. No text, logos, borders, or boxes, should extend outside this area. Each part (back cover, spine, and front cover) has a safe area.
• Blue Boxes show the Bleed Area. Any background color, pattern, gradient or image that you wish to extend to the edge of your cover should extend out to, but not past, the Blue Box.
• White Space shows the Template Area. None of your cover elements should be in this area. Do not alter any of the information here.
• Black horizontal and vertical crops are the Trim and Fold Marks. These mark the spine folds and cover turn-in folds. The cover is turned in and pasted to the back of the cover board, under the book’s endsheets. The endsheets help secure the book’s interior to the covers.
• The Barcode that comes on the back cover (only) should be deleted or covered. The printer will place a barcode on the back cover. If you do not remove the sample one, or if there is no room for a barcode to be placed your cover will be rejected.
If you want to designate where the barcode will be on your back cover, make a white box, measuring exactly 0.5” Tall x 0.75” Wide and place it where you would like the barcode to be. Our printer will place a production barcode there during production. 


Producing a cover file in Scribus is easy.

Once you are emailed the cover template, open it up in any image editing program.

  1. Where the file data is located on the template may differ depending on what type of cover you are building, but it will always be at the bottom somewhere.
  2. Double-check that the book interior specs, cover size, and type of book printing are correct. In this area it will also give you a document size. Make note of this as you will need it later.
  3. Choose "Save As..." (in whatever program you have opened the file in) and save the file as a JPG.



Now, open Scribus, and a handy window will come up (see below). Set the specifications as follows:

  • Document Layout: Single Page
  • Size: Custom
  • Orientation: Landscape
  • Width and Height: Set the New Document Size to match the document size taken from the template. In this’s 23” x 14”. If your displayed units are not in inches, set your default unit under Options.
  • Margin Guides: Set to 0
  • Bleeds: Set to 0 

Then click OK.


Now, the window will open up with the file size all set for the template to be placed.

Go to the Insert pull-down and select "Image Frame". You can click and drag to make it the same size as the page, or you can use the X,Y,Z tab in the Properties window to set it exactly to the document size, in this case 23” x 14” (preferred).


Double-click the frame to place the template you saved as a JPG. Doing this is similar to placing art in the interior file.

Remember to click "Scale To Frame Size" and tick Proportional to fit the template properly. 


Now you can right-click the template and lock it in place. Once locked, it will stay in place and be
easy to work on top of.


Make a new image box, as you did above; fit it to the bleed lines and then place your cover art inside. Make sure you can still see the printer’s crop and fold marks and the other cover information.


Using the same methods, add the spine and back cover art (if they are separate files).

To add text to the cover, select the Insert pull-down menu and select "Insert Text Frame". Click and drag your cursor to make the frame whereever you want the text to go.


Next, choose the Type tool from the menu at the top (it looks like a capital 'A'). Type what you need into the box, and then use the Text tool from the Properties menu to adjust the font, size, etc.


Be careful where you place your text: Make sure it is easy to read. If you are losing text in the background, you can change the color or add a drop shadow with the Text tool in the Properties window.


You can add text to the back cover and the spine as well. To turn the text so it fits properly on the spine, once you have it typed in, use the X,Y,Z tool in the Properties menu to Rotate it up to 270 degrees.

Once you have everything where you want it, you are ready to produce the PDF file.

How to Export Your Print-Ready PDF Cover

The method and settings for exporting a cover PDF for press are the same as for exporting your multi-page interior file.

Open "Document Setup" from your File pull-down menu.

Make sure that Color Management is turned on (if you are printing in full color) and that you have selected "CGATS21_CRPC1" as your document CMYK and printer profiles. You must have Color Management activated and color profiles assigned in order to export a PDF/X-1a or X/3 for press.


To export, use the File pull-down menu, select Export, and then "Save as PDF". If your Preflight Verifier window opens, make sure your profile is set to PDF/X-1a or X/3.

Make any adjustments, and correct all errors before exporting, going through the actions below.


1. Under the General tab, make sure "All Pages" is selected, Compatibility is set to PDF/X- 1a or PDF/X-3, and Maximum Image Resolution is checked and set to 300 dpi (600 dpi if black and white line art is used).


2. Under the Fonts tab, make sure all fonts are Embedded.


3. Under the Color tab, make sure Output is set to Printer and that "Convert Spot Colors to Process Colors" is checked.


4. Under the Pre-Press tab, check "Use Document Bleeds". DO NOT include any printer marks in your final export.


7. Tips and Things to Remember


Page Count: The interior file you export should be an odd number of pages, one page less than the page count number you entered into the cover template generator.

The printer requires that the final page of a book interior be absent because they add the last page to your file during premedia setup. They need that space to place their internal production tracking barcode, which is used to scan the book interior during book binding, i.e., to be sure that the correct cover is put on the correct book interior. (This production barcode is unrelated to any ISBN or UPC barcodes and should not be confused with them.)

Depending on a book’s interior size, the final page count of a book must be evenly divisible by 2. Therefore, it is best to submit book interiors that are one page less than an evenly divisible page count. If you are concerned about blank pages at the pack of the book, you can be aware of the book signature size, see table below


Size Divisible By
6.14 x 9.21 and smaller 6
6.69 x 9.61 and larger 4

For example, when doing an 8.5” by 11” B&W book, assume you have a final count of 120 pages. Enter 120 for the page count when using the cover template generator, but submit your book interior PDF file at 119 pages.

  • About Specifications

    • All images must be 300 dpi/ppi resolution. The physical size of the image should be at least the same physical size (i.e., in inches) that it will be in the book.
    • Final PDF can not be over 240% ink limit.
    • All images should be CMYK. Do not use RGB or Lab colors. The colors may shift unpredictably during the export to print ready PDF process.
    • Preferred image formats are TIFF or EPS files. Refrain from using JPG or PNG files, which are more suitable for web publishing.
    • Header fonts shouldn’t be too large. The optimal range is from 24 pts down to 14 pts.
    • Body fonts should be 10 to 12 pts. (Line spacing or leading is usually 2 points more than the font size.)
    • In making your text fit into small spaces, avoid Tracking your text more or less than 20%. Otherwise, it will look too tight or too loose. 
    • Avoid widows and orphans: leaving a single word at the end of a paragraph or a single line at the top or bottom of a column of text.
    • Embed all fonts used in the document (all font families used, include all screen/printer fonts).
    • Black text should be made with a 100% black swatch, with total CMYK values of 0% Cyan (C), 0% Magenta (M), 0% Yellow (Y), and 100% Black (K).
    • Black elements should not be built in “Registration” black or with the 100% black swatch used for text. They should be built out of “Rich” black. For best results, we recommend the CMYK values of 60% Cyan (C), 40% Magenta (M), 40% Yellow (Y), and 100% Black (K).
    • CMYK total value should never exceed 240%.
    • Text should be at least 0.25” from the trim edge and 0.5" from gutter edge.
    • Do not add information or printer marks such as crop marks, web-press comments, etc.
    • You can place a barcode box anywhere on your back cover. If you do, the box should be white, measuring exactly 0.75” wide x 0.5” tall. Our printer will place a production barcode there during production. 

8. What Do I Do Next?
Once you have finished producing your interior book block and cover files, you’re ready to upload!

Log into your DriveThru account and go to your Pub Hub on the Publish page.

If you have not already set up a title record, go to TITLE MANAGEMENT/Set up a new title to do so.

If you have any questions or need more information about how to proceed with filling out this form, you may find it helpful to consult Set Up a New Title & Edit a Title.

After a successful upload of your press-ready PDFs, you will need to order a proof. Once you receive, review, and approve your printed proof, you will be able to activate your title for sale. 

9. I Need More Help!

Your publisher service representative is not really an expert on digital layout, so chances are slim that they will be able to answer all your technical questions not answered in this tutorial. However, please do email us your questions anyway so we can help you find an answer! This helps us improve this tutorial, so it answers more questions for everyone.

If you have decided that you don’t care to do your own file layout, you can find people with professional skills and contract them to create your print files. The cost of this work depends on how much of the work you do yourself before handing it over. You can find freelance layout professionals at sites like

We can also recommend someone for layout if you would like. Please contact Publisher Services for details.


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