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Typesetting in Scribus 1.4 or higher


See the Scribus online help for more information and general principles.

Creating a new document

Typesetting in Scribus starts with creating a new document. Choose menu File / New. In the New Document dialog, make some settings. Document Layout: Double Sided. Page width: 138 mm. Page height: 210 mm. Top, Bottom and Outside margins: 10 mm. Inside margin: 12 mm. Click OK to create the new document.

Setting up the baseline grid

All our text will stick to the baseline grid. This is a key factor to good typography. My leading is 12 points, and I will set up a grid to reflect this. To make the grid visible, go to menu View / Show Baseline Grid.

Placing text

The text is available from Bibledit as OpenDocument files. Pick a Bible book, the version with text and note citations. Create a text frame in Scribus. Add the text of the OpenDocument to this frame. There is much more text than what fits in just one column. This extra text is not visible. What is visible, though, is a red plus near the end of the first column. This shows that more text is available. I would like to place this extra text on a second page. Create a new text frame on a new page. Link the new text frame with the previous text frame. There is still more text than fits on the second page. I estimate that there is enough text to fill many pages. I am going to insert an extra page, so that we get more space to place the text. I can then add as many pages as are needed, and fill each page with text.

Place headlines

The headline I have in this example is: ‘The first book of Moses called Genesis’. I’d like it to place it at the top of the page, and to span across any columns.Select the relevant text frames, and drag the top to make it shorter, so creating space above it. Select the text ‘The first book of Moses called Genesis’. Cut it to the clipboard. Create a new text frame at the top of the page. Estimate the size it needs to be. Paste the text into that text frame. Resize the text frame so it looks smart. Then resize the main text frame or frames so that everything looks good.

Making text align to the grid

Text aligned to the grid is key to good typesetting. Select all text you would like to stick to the baseline grid. Make the setting to align it to the baseline grid. The leading of the text should be equal to the baseline grid. If the leading of the text is bigger, then it is like as if you have double line spacing.

Total page count

The publisher may set limits to the number of pages the typeset Bible may contain. In this example, we expect an entire Bible to have about 1600 pages.

The Bible will have footnotes and crossreferences, all lumped together into a single textframe at the bottom of each page. Let us now measure how many pages the notes are likely to take up. Create a new document in Scribus. Take the file with all notes in OpenDocument format. It is 00_Bible_notes.odt. Place the text as described above. Keep adding new text frames and linking them till all text has been placed. This allows us to see how many pages the notes will take up. This is sufficient for an estimate.

Let us now find out how many pages the main text body is likely to take up. The text is in the file called 00_Bible_text_and_note_citations.odt. Place this text in the same way as above.It appears that, on my system, all text cannot be placed at once. It will cut off after some point. I will place 01_Genesis_text_and_note_citations.odt instead. I can now roughly see the total number of pages that the text of Genesis will take up. The size of the whole Bible is about 22 times more than the size of Genesis.

The font is of particular influence on the page count. This is not dealt with here.

Editing a paragraph style

After exporting USFM text to OpenDocument, and properly placing this text into Scribus, the USFM styles appear in Scribus. For example, normal paragraphs usually have style ‘p’, and section heading ‘s’. If you like to update a paragraph style, you may update each section heading individually, but this is a lot of work. It is faster to update the style for ‘s’, so that this updates all paragraphs that have this style.

To update a paragraph style, place the cursor in it, and use the menu to view or edit the style.

Running headers

The Bible will have running headers. The headers contain the page number near the inside margin. At the right margin it shows book and chapter numbers on that page.

Enter the page numbers on the master pages. On the left master page, create a text frame, and enter the page number at the inside margin. On the right master page, create a text frame, and enter the page number at the inside margin too.

On page 1, create a new text frame at the top, and put the book and chapter at the outside margin. This text frame can be copied to each odd page as it is generated. The same applies for page 2, and any subsequent even pages.

The page where a book starts normally does not display a page number. To do that, apply no master page to that particular page.

Space between drop caps and text

It may be visually pleasant to have some space between the drop caps chapter numbers and the text beside it. All that is needed is a fixed space after the chapter numbers. Pick any one from a hair space to an em space. The number of characters in drop caps is now increased by one. Set this value in the drop cap settings. All lines after the first will automatically line up.

Managing widows or orphans

Widows and orphans are words or short lines at the beginning or end of a paragraph, which are left dangling at the top or bottom of a column, separated from the rest of the paragraph. There is some disagreement about the definitions of widow and orphan; what one calls a widow the other calls an orphan. There are some ways to avoid widows or orphans. Adjusting the spacing between words to produce tighter or looser paragraphs. Adjusting the tracking of the text. This is the overall spacing of the letters in a paragraph or on a line. With a good font in justified paragraphs this can usually be adjusted by up to -25 or +15 without it looking too out of place. Adjusting the hyphenation of words within the paragraph. Forcing a word down onto the next line using a soft return.