Does Scribus generate excessively large PDF files?

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Dwight Worker

A friend who uses Adobe's InDesign just told me that he thinks SCRIBUS is generating excessively large PDF files. A 250 page, 6" X 9" book we published using InDesign last year used needed 7 meg. The pdf's that Scribus is generating are averaging around 80k per page.
This is roughly 3 times the file size as the InDesign generated pdf's.

My questions:
1. Is this size issue a problem when I finally have the book printed?
2. If it is a problem, is there some way to limit the PDF size?

I am a complete newbie to Scribus. I have been going over Dai's on-line lessons and find them to be really good. I have REALLY gotten to like Scribus in this short time. I am impressed at what I can do already with it. Viva Open Source! 


Dwight Worker


I've not used InDesign so I don't know how it works but, in my experience, Scribus doesn't seem to do any "only-what's-needed optimisation" when it exports images.

For instance, if you use a very large image and only show a little bit of it in the frame, Scribus will include the entire image in the PDF rather than cropping it to what's visible on screen. (This may be the right thing to do however as I don't know what the PDF standards are.)

Also, you can have very large images squashed into little frames - which give huge effective DPI values e.g. 1000DPI+ - and this can also mean your file is larger than you'd expect. Scribus does, however, allow you to set a maximum DPI for images when exporting to PDF but this increases memory requirements and slows down export (so says the tool tip).

Both of these issues can result in very large PDF sizes without you knowing there was a problem until you saw the PDF size.

As an example, one of the jobs I have is a 12-14-page newsletter which regularly comes out at around 3MB, which is just under half the size of your 250-page book! Sometimes I do some manual "optimisation" but for my simple needs it would take longer than is economical so I don't bother.

It would be nice if Scribus could have a "what you see is all that is exported" setting - whatever it is I mean by that? - but I've a feeling this may be difficult to achieve.

Having said all that, PDF size shouldn't really be a problem when it comes to getting something professionally printed. Any decent print shop should be able to cope with fairly massive files through nothing more than a general sense of needing to display some professionalism.


The problem is that for JPEG cropping or resampling an image will reduce the quality (image will have to be recompressed).

It is possible to crop JPEG lossless, but it has to be done at 16 pixel (I think) intervals, but it has to be implemented.

There has been discussions on these issues and if I recall correct there are two suggested enhancements:

1. Lossless crop as an image effect
2. An export option to crop images at PDF creation.

But I have no idea if or when these will be implemented.


Image processing in Scribus are not really first class. We all have to accept this. It is therefore much better to process all images with Gimp (No 1 Picture manipulation programm, free, open source) or Fotoshop (No 2, very expensive and propietary coding).

I do all the prep work in Gimp:
· opening picture either as a 100 dpi (for screen work) or 300 dpi (for print work). I'm afraid, if you do both, you have to use two projects...
· proper cropping
· correct sizing to exact size required in Scribus
· exporting: As jpg for screen, reduced to about 85% (don't be afraid, no monitor can show better picture quality, but you have much smaller file sizes. As png (lossless) for print work (the file size is about 5 to 6 times larger).

Then you import the proper pic into the correct frame in Scribus.

We tend to overvalue the really visible quality of a picture which makes then all files much too large. Same goes in print work: if I, as a consumer, have absolurtely no idea of the real and true original picture, a small difference in hue and saturation is irrelevant. But we professionals loose a whole mass of time for this last 5% of (generally  unrecognised) quality, which uses sometimes up to 75% of all involved working hours.

My lifelong motto is «Do it as good as is needed, not as is possible». And suddenly you realise, there is no difference except you find a lot of additional time.
Have you first consulted the Manual? You can probably find the solution there.

Happy Greetings from Scotland's nicest Holiday Island


Quote from: Arran on June 03, 2013, 10:01:52 AM
We tend to overvalue the really visible quality of a picture which makes then all files much too large.

That's why people use a 10 megapixel cellphone camera to take pictures they view on a 2 megapixel monitor:)