Default Styles in Scribus 1.5.2

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I never heard of Noto Fonts, so I DuckDuckGo'ed it.  The entire font download is 477.2 MB.  That is enormous!

I love the Linux Libertine fonts.  I'm also fond of EB Garamond.
Scribus 1.4.8 Stable
Windows 11


I'll rattle through some quick points before I try to explain my idea about packaging a default font with Scribus.

1. I'm almost 100% sure that Arial comes with Windows 10. Unless something I've installed has added it - which is unlikely, but not impossible - then it came with my machine. It's such a ubiquitous Windows font that I really can't see Microsoft dropping it.

2. I think we can all agree that bundling clipart with a DTP application is an idea from the 1990's that, because of the web, is now redundant. It was a nice thing for companies to do before most people had access to the web but it's an idea who's time has come and gone. I don't think there's more to say on that.

3. I'm fairly sure that Minion Pro (and its variants) is copyrighted. Companies like Apple and Adobe will have licensed it for inclusion with their products. It's a lovely font but there's probably no way that it could be packaged with Scribus.

4. I don't think packaging a font with Scribus would be a good idea unless it was done "properly" (see below). I know I was the person who mentioned it but unless it's done right it would be a bad idea.

5. In my opinion, packaging a whole bucket-load of fonts would be a bad thing. That's certainly not what I am proposing.

Now on to the explanation...


When someone starts using DTP software they might have heard about fonts and might even have tried a few different ones - changing the formatting in their emails or whatever - but they will probably not be used to the way Scribus presents fonts to the user.

By way of example, I've seen plenty of posts in this forum where people ask why there's no "bold" or "italic" button and they have to be told about how Scribus doesn't create these variants on-the-fly - like word processors do - and they need to choose the correct variant from the relevant drop-down.

This means that the beginner needs to start looking at the concept of font variants which can be a difficult concept to grasp early on. This is a vital part of the DTP process but it can be made more difficult if the default font that Scribus chooses has only one variant, meaning that the user has no bold or italic to choose from. If they have no variants to choose from then they need to start getting into the idea of finding fonts on the internet - where do they look? - then installing new things in ways they've never done before - where do they get the instructions? - all before they can do a simple thing like making some text a bit thicker or giving it a bit of a slant.

I don't think that's giving people a good start to their Scribus experience. All they want to do is make some small formatting changes but they have to start installing other things in order to do it. Word processors don't give them this kind of hassle, so why should they put up with it in Scribus? In other words: "To hell with this, I'm going back to Word!"


Now I'll quickly come at this from the point of view of experienced users before moving on. Basically, experienced users won't care that a default font has been packaged with Scribus. They probably won't even notice that one exists. They will use the fonts that they want to use and this "default thing" will fly under their radar.

Personally I don't care if the default font is Arial or Times or Impact or even Comic Sans. Except for quick examples that I create to help with the explanations that I give on this forum I don't use the default font. One of the first things I do after putting some text in a frame is to change the font. I might move the frame around a bit before that, but changing the font is something that I do - pretty much - without thinking about it. I know the font has to change before I create the frame as I already have some idea of how I want the text to look.

I don't think that any kind of packaged default font will have any repercussions for experienced users. They can simply ignore it completely and just get on with doing whatever they were doing before. With this in mind, I can continue my explanation...


To get down to it, my proposal for a default font package - I'll call it the DFP to keep the typing down - goes something like this:

* The DFP would not be installed. It would be bundled as a resource that only Scribus knows about and can be used in the same way that Scribus uses fonts in the same folder as the user's document. The user's system would be unaffected by its existence.

* Scribus would not have to search for a default font as it would just use the one it provided for itself. No extra complications, just go straight to the one that is supplied. (The user can, of course, select a different default font as they would currently do via Preferences. Nothing changes there.)

* The chosen "base" font would be one that looked nice for most general text. Something like Arial or whatever, it's not really important, as long as it's a good general-purpose font that contains the glyphs for most of the characters that an average user will need. Most beginners are used to sans serif so any decent-looking one of those will be fine. (I really have no preference, throw a dice to choose if necessary.)

* The DFP would contain only three variants of the font: Regular; Bold and Italic. Nothing else would be required. It would be a "starter set" and nothing more. (Obviously the user has other fonts to choose from if they want to but the point is that they don't have to if they don't want to; the basics are there to get them started.)

SIDEBAR: I realise that I'm only talking about "western" fonts here and that's a problem that I can't come up with a good solution to. Packaging fonts that cover all languages would make the installation unwieldy. Having separate installations for different language groups would probably add too many extra complications. There's no "best" solution that I can see so I've kept my proposal to what I think is the "easiest" to achieve.

* The font would be named in Scribus as the "Default Font", no matter what the font that was used was actually called. In other words, when you open a list of fonts, the default font would be called "Default Font". People don't need to know what the "real" name of the font is; its real name is irrelevant. If it's not what you want then work out how to change it and then change it, otherwise just use it. Keeping the real name of the font secret would push users towards finding their own fonts while also giving beginners something they can use without having to think about things too much at the start.

* This would bring in some consistency with the default character and paragraph styles. The default styles would use the default font so if the beginner got themselves into a real mess they would just have to go back to the default font/style and start again. (As before, more experienced users could alter the defaults if they wish. Nothing changes there.)

* Having a DFP would give all Scribus users the same font resources they can use in tutorials. If the tutorial says to use the default font - or doesn't mention which font to use - then everyone has the same thing and their documents will look exactly the same as the one in the tutorial. If everyone has a different default then following a tutorial could get tricky.


Hopefully I've been able to explain myself a bit better.

What I'm proposing is not some kind of massive "font-fest" where Scribus installs tons of stuff that most users will never use. All I'm suggesting is that Scribus is given a very small set of font variants that beginners can start to create basic documents with.

Forcing beginners to go looking for other fonts before they can do simple things like making text bold will surely put some people off from using the software. At the same time, experts can quite happily ignore the default font; they should not be affected by any of this.

Have I given a good account of my proposal? Is there anything I haven't explained properly?

If there is anything that has not been explained well or I have missed something - however basic - that presents a problem then please say so.


so, the new list:

- linux libertine regular
- dejavu sans
- open sans
- helvetica regular
- arial nova regular
- arial regular

... the goal of this list being to provide a meaningful first default for scribus, that will for sure cover the latin alphabet.

if somebody can provide good defaults for DTP (which are likely to be already installed on the system when the user first starts scribus) for other writing systems (arabic, chinese, cyrillic, indic languages, japanese, ...) we can also try to suggest them, when and if scribus detects an instance that is likely to prefer those languages.


hi garry

i still dislike the idea (even if your not talking about a 400 mb font family).

your mentioned new users who don't find a font with bold and/or italic variants would see a program that works with a 'default font', but struggles with other fonts – is this a better solution?

btw. if the font in use comes with different variants, you have easy access to all of them either in the 'properties' palette or in the 'style manager' – instead of adding more 'standard' stuff we should try to improve the ui. scribus could display something like 'no other variants available for this font' as a standard entry at the end of the list.



Hi utnik.

As I said near the top of my very long post, I don't really like the idea of packaging fonts myself. I would only like it if it was done "properly" but I'm not saying the way I suggested was "properly", it was just a compromise between what happens now and what other software does. (For instance, a standard LaTeX installation of hundreds of MB is mostly fonts.)

I think the way I mentioned is a slightly better solution to the beginner having no bold and italic to play with from the start. The fact that other fonts may not have variants is just something that the beginner will have to discover for themselves, but I think it might be useful for them to know that things like bold and italic are actually available. If they see that they're not available from other fonts then it's a push for them to learn. At the moment, if the default font chosen by Scribus has no variants - right from the start of the person using Scribus - the user might think that such things are simply not available. I've replied to a lot of posts from people thinking this so I have history on my side a bit there. Of course we shouldn't wrap beginners in thick blankets to keep them from the "cold and scary" world of fonts but I think it might be nice to help them out a bit.

I totally agree with you when you say that the UI needs a bit of an update in this area. How this could be achieved has been discussed on this forum from time to time without anyone really agreeing on how it should be done. I've said many times that, since fonts are a major part of using Scribus, they should be much easier to use.

Instead of getting into that massive discussion here, I would say that - as a stop-gap, rather than a major change - instead of Scribus letting the user select a list of variants that only holds one variant (and maybe a message, as you say, that no other variants exist) it could grey-out the drop-down list (maybe with a short accompanying message just above it, if necessary). Letting the user select a drop-down list where the currently-selected option is the only possible option has always felt a bit nasty to me. It offers the possibility of options but cruelly snatches them away when you click. Basically, don't offer options to choose from if there is only one option. By all means make it look like there could be other options available but tell people that there are currently none when there are none.

There are probably plenty of people who think the above suggestion is a silly way of doing things but if it's out in the open then it can be discussed. For myself, I'm not really that bothered. I'm just trying to think of new users.


hi garry,

if we can provide a list that can be used for picking the first default font (instead of taking the alphabetically first one), we can take care that that font does have italics and bolds...

i would think that on mac and on windows every user will have at least one good quality fonts with italics and fonts.

i can think that some linux users don't have any... in that case we could get the packagers to mark specific fonts as suggested (or more) when installing scribus.


I forgot the enormous size of the Noto font set. I do like the idea that there is a font family that can work for almost every writer on Earth. But that doesn't address the needs of Scribus. I withdraw the suggestion.

We could go round and round on this. The list proposed is quite workable.


a change has be made to scribus but there is some discussion going to further improve the detection:

i've pasted there the proposal i've compiled in here.


If the list of preferred fonts includes fonts where most people will have at least one of - and they are usually installed with bold and italic variants - then that's probably fine.

There remains an issue where people have "weird" or minimal installations where none of the preferred fonts are available but, without having a really long list, there's probably not really much that can be done about that. If someone is trying DTP then they've probably tried one of the office applications first so they will normally have some of the usual fonts installed.

If a good list is created then I think my packaged font idea can fall by the roadside and be forgotten.


I agree that a font package will not solve the issue in this topic and in most cases it will blow up the installation of Scribus. (Just one thing to mention about the Noto font, just the asian font files are more than 400MB).

Further more I made a research about other cross platform software, like Chrome or LibreOffice.

on MacOS uses Times as default font.
on KDE-Neon uses Biko font (because it is the first installed alphabetical font).

on MacOS uses Times as well
on KDE-Neon uses just "serif" -> No idea which font it uses at the end for rendering

LibreOffices uses Liberation Serif on all platforms.

For Linux there exists an extension to install Microsoft core fonts:
I'm not sure if this will installed by default with distros.
I think it makes sense to take a look which fonts will install by LibreOffice or OpenOffice and put these fonts on the list too.

LibreOffice fonts:
Liberation fonts (from 2.4 to 3.3)
Gentium fonts (since 3.2)
Bitstream Vera fonts
Arimo (sans serif)
Tinos (serif)
Open Sans (Ascender) (since 4.0)
PT Serif (ParaType) (since 4.0)
Source Code Pro (since 4.0)
Source Sans Pro (Adobe) (since 4.0)