Best pdf output for Family History books for publishing

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Overview: Using Legacy Family Tree v10 to produce charts and family group information as pdfs; converting to grey png images at 300 dpi, using PDF24; then using Scribus as framework to place each image in book. Finish with extra image and text frames as needed - no colour. Completed book 'print ready' for printer. Has worked well for one published book.

Trying to keep up with best way to balance quality and size for publication, but finding this confusing. Looking for suggestions please.

Legacy Chart Output Properties - PDF Producer: WPDF3 by WPCubed GmbH; PDF Version: 1.4 (Acrobat 5.x).
Legacy Family Group Output Properties - PDF Producer ComponentOne PDF Generator 8.0; PDF Version 1.2 (Acrobat 3.x)
I have no control over this output.

Scribus v1.6.1 Options for PDF Output:
PDF 1.3 (Acrobat 4)
PDF 1.4 (Acrobat 5)
PDF 1.5 (Acrobat 6)
PDF 1.6 (Acrobat 6)

Which best to use please?


Take a look here and see what version of the PDF spec will be best for you.

quick question, why the conversion from pdf to png? Why not just import the pdf directly into scribus?
Using Scribus 1.6.1, openSUSE 15.6
Advanced hobbyist


Thank you. Will read.

Did not know direct importing of pdf possible. Seemed to be only images & text.


From talking with my printer, 1.4 is fine for most things - the later updates add features that don't seem to add anything useful for printing a book.

That is a very general statement, of course - you should ask your printer what version they need.

Re: quality vs. size - I turn off all compression to make sure the finished article is the highest quality possible (ie: nice sharp images)... again, this was recommended by my printer (Craigs in Invercargill)

Cheers, Steve


Thank you, Steve. That's most helpful and about what I am thinking now after a couple of intensive days.


Further to the question about why I did not just import pdf directly. Replying in case anyone else strikes the same issues. I have just spent some time trying this out (because I had not realised it was possible).

I have already published one 675 page book from Scribus; brilliant programme for me but I am probably never going to use it to full potential.

Because I am using charts and reports from Legacy Family Tree I print the pdfs generally in Arial Narrow 12pt; this is because it looks about 11pt when imported into Scribus page margins. Using pdf import for the charts was not too bad but did not have the 'crispness' I obtained when converting to png then importing.

The reports are multipage and required splitting. The pdf splitter I was using did not do this well, the font being altered and fuzzy. I attempted several splitters; some were better at not altering the font but did not handle large files. For example, one pdf was 1.5GB and I ended up with 42 files each 1.5GB in size.

Finally found one (PDFSam) that produced ok font and each page about the size it should be, but when imported into image frame in Scribus font was again fuzzy.

So I am now back to exporting from Legacy, converting all into png files and importing png files into image frames in Scribus.

Thank you for the question though; spurred me to find out the above.


Just wanted to make certain, that you do not mistake the perceived "uncrispness" of imported PDFs onscreen with the real quality of the output.
There is a setting in Scribus, where you can set different quality of displayed images and vectors. It exists, in order to speed up the graphics-rich documents
 So, it might look somewhat fuzzy, but when you export a final PDF, it will be crispy. So the question is, did you check the final output or simply saw how it appears at the monitor? Hope it helps.


Can I just confirm, you are bringing the charts and the text in as an image?  Are you able to separate the text away from the chart, then add the text in text boxes in Scribus?

Also, as sersha mentioned - you can right-click images and choose Preview Settings, then Full Resolution - it slows down the editor if you leave them all in full resolution - so I use that option to see what the images will look like when printed, then switch it back to normal resolution...

Exporting to PDF should also have everything in full resolution unless you have compression turned on.

Cheers, Steve


Thank you both for your replies. Yes, I am well aware of the Preview Settings in Scribus and use them also as you describe. Do not compress when exporting pdfs from anywhere.

I export all the charts (usually single page) and the Family Group Reports (multipage) from Legacy to pdf files; convert so that each page is .png; set image frames in Scribus and "get image" for each page. For text I want to add, I use the Scribus Text Frames. Also add other images as required into 'white spaces', e.g. enlargement of grave image or probate entry.

I am not sure where the problem with the font conversion occurs, but its effect is significant. Attached find a sample I just made by importing part of a Family file as png into an image frame on the top of the page and a pdf version into an image frame at the bottom of the same page. The pdf import is not as clear as the png import, although this time it is not as bad as it was when I imported a whole file this way. Both preview settings at full resolution.

Certainly interesting; but thanks to Scribus that I can actually produce a reasonable book anyway!


Sorry did not attach file; now attached. Not sure how clear this will be.


for future reference (since you seem to have produced your book now): you might want to directly import the pdfs page by page as vector (without first selecting an image frame).

probably, you will want to import the text as vectors.

- make sure that your document is active and no frame is selected
- file > import > get vector file
- pick the pdf
- choose the page to be imported
- choose to import the text as vectors
- you will get the pdf as grouped vector drawing (it will not be in a frame and you can ungroup it; of course, you won't be able to modify the text)


I have just tried this out; see results in image. Was much easier. The lower part is using the vector method you described and this seems to have changed the output such that the font now appears 'cramped' and much harder to read in my opinion, while the upper part is from importing the png. I think the vector method would be better, but I would have to experiment with fonts to find an appropriate one for the original file. I know it is not usual, but I found that the best font for getting a great deal of information on a page was Arial Narrow, so I have used only Arial Narrow and Arial Narrow Bold in the reports from Legacy, and thus elsewhere I have used text. The text is generally size 12; so reduces slightly when imported into the image frame in Scribus.

As I am halfway into the second book of a two part set, I am not going to change the method now, but I really appreciate your giving me this assistance and certainly something to experiment with. Thank you very much.