margin anomaly

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(also posted in PDF generation forum, I'm not sure which is most appropriate)
(ale: i've removed the other post: the section is not so important)

I created a document in Scribus and exported it as a PDF which *definitely* has equal outer margins on its left- and right-hand pages (I've triple checked this). However,  having ordered a couple of printed draft copies from on separate occasions (I've generally been happy with them in the past), they both feature a margin-related anomaly - I'm assuming this isn't a printing error, as the problem is exactly the same in both copies.

The problem is this: on alternating spreads, the margin is either too-small-on-the-left-hand-page-and-too-big-on-the-right-hand-page, or the other way around. So it's like the entire content of each spread has been shifted about 5 or 6mm to the left or right, in alternation.

Does anyone have any idea what caused this, or what I can do to fix it? Is it something to do with PDF settings, or something at the Lulu end?

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hi mwatkins

it's a bit hard to check out the issue in the dark...
could you provide .sla and .pdf testfiles?



Thanks utnik,

I tried attaching the .sla and the .pdf that went to Lulu, but the file size is too big for this forum, so I've put them here for you:
There's nothing anomalous visible in either, the problem was in the Lulu printout...but perhaps you can see where that problem originates. That would be greatly appreciated!

I don't know if you're familiar with Lulu, but before printing a test copy, they allow you to download/preview their "print ready PDF" that's auto-generated from the one you upload to them. That also doesn't show any anomaly with margins.


hi matthew

there are a couple of strange things in your .sla file:

  • inconsistent paper sizes:
           pages in document setup: 536/697pt ('crown')
           master pages: 595.28/841.89pt ('A4')
           document pages from 'page' → 'manage page properties': 1080/1440pt (still called 'crown')
  • i couldn't find the issue about the margins (if it isn't related to the different page properties...) – but if you're talking about the black frames, these boxes aren't set to the margins (and you should use guides to put them everytime at the same place...)
  • your text management with all the manually placed independent frames makes it almost impossible to edit your document. linked text frames are often the better choice. (scribus has its limitations with massive text chains – you need to find the balance...)
  • the text is set in the way you would do it with the old typewriter. (two carrier returns for a new paragraph, twenty carrier returns to go over an image...) – the usual way is to:
           define a paragraph style ('F3') with a defined space below each paragraph
           set the text to te 'baseline grid' and define this grid in 'file' → 'document setup' → 'guides'.
           let the text flow around your images (select the image, go to 'properties' → 'shape', select 'use contour line', click 'edit', check the box 'edit contour line' and enlarge the size by your desired value or edit the line direct in the layout) the images need to be on a higher level than the text ('properties' → 'x, y, z' → 'level') or on a layer on top of the text layer.
for your project i would recommend to setup a new file:

  • in 'crown' size
  • automatic text frames
  • 242 pages
  • 40pt margins
  • place the page number at the same place on both master pages (in your current file there's an offset in both directions)
  • place guides on the masterpages where the black frames should be (28pt from the borders?) and set 'page' → 'snap to guides'.
  • set the baseline grid to 15pt (taken from your actual file)
  • define paragraph styles for the standard text, the titles... (align them to te baseline grid!)
  • copy the text sentence from the present file into the new one, unlink the frames and copy the next sentence. you don't need to unlink the frames for every chapter. you may insert frame breaks as well. but sometimes scribus will run slow when editing a linked text chain of more than 50 pages. (the value depends on your hardware...)
  • place your images (i recommend a separate layer for them...) and let the text flow around them ('properties' → 'shape' → ...)
  • i suggest some guides for the images as well (at least for image blocks like on page 168 ff.)
all this may be half a day's work for a scribus beginner – but you'll learn a lot and your document will improve as well...



Amazing, thanks utnik! I really appreciate you taking the time to look at this and offer such detailed advice.
Yeah, I should probably have spent more time learning Scribus basics before diving in and creating this project (I migrated from InDesign, which I'd got used to after years of trial and error).