Book Layout: problem pasting text

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How do I delete "ghost" frames so that my pasted text becomes visible within the page frames?
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Hi. I am new to Scribus and am using it to layout a book/novel. I've encountered a problem pasting text from a MS Word document (going chapter by chapter) when I reached the end of the Scribus document and I have to add or append additional pages. Attached is a PDF with a couple of screen grabs of the issue: The text I attempt to paste at the end of the document is not displaying in the Scribus pages but is either invisible or appears at the very bottom inside a set of "ghost" frames (ie, frames that are in the gray area of the application).

I've gotten to page 136 of the novel. This issue has only happened twice before, and I was able to resolve it those two times by deleting the pasted chapter and deleting the ghost frames containing the "invisible" pasted text. But this time around, I am unable to delete the ghost frames, which are sometimes empty, sometimes filled with pasted text, and sometimes not present. I suspect that deleting these ghost frames should fix the problem.

I really hope that someone can help me. Otherwise, I may have to switch to InDesign. Thank you!!!

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Welcome to the forum gerardeen.

I believe the problem you're having may be due to the use of automatic text frames. Someone else had similar problems earlier in the year and the issue was posted on the forum. I believe it was resolved but I haven't been able to find which post it was yet.

I'll have more of a thorough look when I get more time but these posts might be of some help in the meantime:

In general I would advise against using automatic text frames. They force you into using a very basic page layout. If your layout is of the sort that pretty much every page looks the same (full of text) then Scribus probably isn't the application you want. A word processor might be much better suited for this kind of thing (that's what they're designed to do).

Scribus is for page layout but books that are mostly text don't really have much "layout" so you're not really gaining much by using Scribus for this kind of thing. Scribus has some extra features but do you really need them?

I realise this probably isn't the answer you want but I think it's right for me to advise on using the correct application for the job in hand.

If you really want to use Scribus for this - and it's totally your decision - then I would advise:

1. Don't use automatic text frames.
2. Insert text frames manually (you can use shift-click when inserting to automatically size the frame to the nearest margins or guides). Or use the scrapbook.
3. Separate your text frame chains by chapter. This way, any problems with one chapter will not "bleed over" into other chapters.
4. Possibly put each chapter in a separate document (using the section numbering to keep page numbers correct). IMPORTANT: Make sure you know how to stitch the resultant PDFs together first.

I hope some of this helps a bit.

P.S. If you really have to use automatic text frames then it's best to append extra text to the first frame in the chain. Otherwise you could have issues where Scribus gets confused about what text should go where.


Thanks for the quick response, Garry!

I managed to fix the problem late last night by deleting about 16 pages from the end of my Scribus document: doing so got rid of the strange "ghost" frames at the end, ie in the gray part of the document. I think the problem arises when I forget to append a sufficient number of new blank pages at the end of the Scribus document prior to pasting a new chapter in -- ie, enough new pages to contain all the text in the the pasted chapter. Won't happen again: I'll be careful next time and will save the document after laying out each chapter under a different filename to mimic "versioning".

I do need a layout program for books (I am a new "hybrid" publisher of eBooks and print books, and this is my first go at print), despite the fact that it contains all text. A word processing application is insufficient: the result looks amateurish because word processing apps fail to control for leading, kerning, and tracking. This becomes especially important in producing poetry collections, with their unique line formats... And I also have a series of children's books (illustrated) on my docket coming up. So I'd better learn this now.  ;-)

I was thinking about going with InDesign because the resultant output can be converted both to epub and to pdf (hence, a final common pathway to both eBook and print). But I was deterred by the high cost!

I really like your suggestion of using a separate Scribus file for each chapter. Doing so will make the "book" easier to handle, and it mirrors the structure of an epub (I typically save each chapter or poem as its own xhtml document)... Would you mind terribly outlining the process of knitting together separate Scribus files so that a continuous page numbering is preserved? Or please send me a link?

Many, many thanks!!


Garry, I played around with Scribus for a while again this morning trying to replicate the glitch... I think I know what happened.

When I append new text at the end of a document but fail to insert sufficient additional pages to contain the inserted text (step 1), there's "invisible" copy that bleeds off the end of the Scribus document (result 1). Realizing this, I would then insert new pages (with the automatic text frame option on) (step 2). But because the text frames in the newly inserted pages are NOT linked to the text frame containing the inserted text copy, then that inserted copy is contained within those weird "ghost" frames at the bottom of the Scribus document (result 2).

So -- here's what I learned (hoping this prevents other newbies from losing their hair!):

1) The easiest way to insert a chapter between two other existing chapters is to paste that entire chapter on the line just above the chapter that follows it. Then hit cntrl-enter at the end of the inserted chapter to place the following chapter on a new, separate page. Doing this will prevent the appearance of the "ghost" frames containing the copy that bled over.

2) When I've arrived near the end of my growing document, the easiest way to prevent pasted copy from bleeding over into "ghost" frames is to make sure that I've appended a sufficient number of pages BEFORE pasting that chapter. But in cases when I forget to do this, then I have to resort to (1) deleting the pasted copy, (2) inserting new pages to contain the pasted copy, and then (3) repasting that new copy into the new blank pages... because I'm still having trouble figuring out how to unlink the end text frame from the "ghost" frame and then linking the original end text frame with the newly inserted text frames (so the darned "ghosts" would disappear). Oy!

Anyway, thanks again, Garry, for the advice. Always a steep learning curve with new software! LOL


You're welcome gerardeen.

Some notes on what you've said:

It seems that Scribus can't quite handle its automatic frames properly. If you're having to make sure that you insert enough new pages before appending the text then that sounds more of a workaround than best practice. It seems to work but Scribus should handle things better. I'd say it was a bug but I wouldn't want to try and come up with a repeatable workflow that the developers could look at.

Having said that, thanks for posting your information for others to see. It will probably help people with the same problem so it's great that you took the time to document it.

I can understand why you're using Scribus now. I suggested word processing as, for "simple" stuff, WP is normally easier to handle for most people. However, if you need control of things like kerning then most WP software won't give you that functionality. So using Scribus, in this case, is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

ASIDE: There have been quite a few requests for Scribus to export to ePublishing formats in the past but I can't see that happening any time soon. Scribus is a fixed-layout application - designed for print work - whereas ePub formats, as you will know, need to be "flowable" depending on screen size, font size, etc. (More like a responsive web page than a normal page layout.) The changes necessary for Scribus to be able to offer both worlds would be pretty huge and would need way more resources to design, implement and test than the Scribus team has at its disposal. Then again, maybe there's a kind millionaire out there who can sponsor a team of IT post-grads to do the work!

The process of stitching PDFs together is dependant on which software you use to do it and the choice of software is, in turn, dependant on which OS you're using. (Scribus can't do this.) For instance, Apple Preview does quite a reasonable job allowing you to drop PDFs into each other and drag pages around until you're happy but it's only available for OSX. Typing "pdf stitch" or "pdf merge" into a search engine will give you loads of possibilities and each will have its own way of working so I can't really give any instructions here.

Something you might need to watch out for is how whatever software you use handles things like colour profiles (if you use them). Some software just manipulates the PDF at a basic level - good enough for most display purposes - but they ignore some of the more complicated areas which can mean that the resultant document can't be printed properly on professional equipment. This could be a problem but, then again, it might not. It's just something you've got to keep an eye on.

One other bit of advice I can give here is to be wary of online PDF Merge services, especiallly those that are free. Some of these services have as part of their T&Cs a line that says something along the lines of "Any document submitted to this service becomes the property of such-and-such enterprises." which generally means that anything you send to them is no longer your property and you could get sued if you publish it. And they are also then free to sell your stuff for publication without needing your permission. Nasty, I know, but it's not an uncommon practice when you're dealing with "free" online services. On the other hand, I'm sure there are nice people out there that just offer their services out of the kindness of their heart and there's no problem using them. You've just got to find them.

Anyway, good luck with your continued use of Scribus. I'm sure you'll get used to it pretty quickly. It has its own little eccentricities but once you know what they are it soon becomes second nature going along with them.


B-SIDE: there is an epub exporter being developed and it already works well enough to get an epub file with all the text and images in it:

sadly, there are many people who have wishes for what scribus should do, but very few people who make the step to contribute a noticeable amount of time to improve scribus.
i've tried several times to get people to learn how to create systematic test files for the epub export and i got almost nothing back.
getting people to contribute code or even follow the instruction to compile the plugin does not seem to be something one should dare to ask for.

of course, scribus itself is partially at fault for this and i'm not the best person to get things done / finished.
but it's still a bit frustrating to be so lonely when contributing to a software like scribus...
and does not really help me prioritize this task...

</rant off>



So happy to hear that there's a possibility -- even remote! -- of Scribus files being able to convert to epub one day! I think I'll give the Scribus epub converter plugin a try next month, after I complete the print layout. Can I use the current, stable version of Scribus for Windows, or do I need to download the development version (I couldn't tell)?... It's always fun learning something new.

I plan to stick with Scribus (along with other freeware like Gimp and Inkscape), eschewing the Adobe Empire on principle and pocketbook. Thank you for the advice, too, on using online freeware.

Perhaps one day, I'd like to be able to contribute to the development of Scribus, even just in user testing -- and thank you for all you're doing to move Scribus along. I appreciate it!  :)

Best regards,


Sorry but I've not used the plug-in myself - I'd forgotten all about it being developed - so I couldn't say which version of Scribus it works with. Maybe a.l.e can advise but I wouldn't recommend using the 1.5.x versions for production stuff. By all means play around with the developmental versions but only use them if you really have to and always be aware that they're still in development and features could change (or even disappear) without notice.

Having said that, if you're going to try the plug-in then you're probably better off maintaining a separate version of Scribus to experiment with so that your production copy doesn't get accidentally broken. If that's the case then it may be useful to use the latest development version to experiment on so you can also see the new features that will be coming to future releases.

It's good to hear that you're planning to stick with Open Source. All of the software that I use on a day-to-day basis is either open source or otherwise free (except Windows). I wouldn't like to think how much money I'm saving with: Scribus vs. InDesign; GIMP vs. PhotoShop; LibreOffice vs. MS Office; Blender vs. ZBrush; Audacity vs. Audition; etc. (Creative Cloud is "on offer" at £45/month at the moment and that's just for the Adobe stuff!)

Any help that you, or anyone else, can offer to the project in the future will, I'm sure, be much appreciated by the team (which I'm not a part of by the way; I just chip in with stuff from time to time). It all goes to make Scribus better for everyone.


sadly, you won't be able to test the plugin on windows.

it's easy to on linux and it's not that hard on mac.

for now, you have to compile scribus yourself.
it's not as hard as it sounds, but it needs some effort.

i might be able to provide an executable for linux and mac, soon.
it's on my todo list but i'm not there yet.

i guess i will have to take a couple of weeks off and work on it.

and for the versions issues:
- you can keep both 1.4 and 1.5 on your computer.
- if unsure of what to do, you should work with 1.4
- at the end of the project, you can make a copy of your document and open the copy with 1.5 and do there some final steps that are not available in 1.4 (like exporting to epub)
- if you save the document with 1.5 you won't be able to open it again with 1.4.



Time permitting, I may try to compile scribus myself. Will holler for help should the need arise. Thanks, you guys, for being there for newbies like me! Much appreciated!


gerardeen, if you do get the time to try compiling Scribus yourself and you have problems I would suggest creating a new thread instead of adding to this one. It will make it easier for other people to pick up in the future if they have the same trouble.


Will do, Garry! I'll organize my post queries topically.