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Scribus => Beginner Talk => Topic started by: BenWoodard on January 22, 2018, 10:28:10 pm

Title: Line spacing in a frame
Post by: BenWoodard on January 22, 2018, 10:28:10 pm
Using 1.5.3  on a MacBook running os 10.13.2

I'm working on a young adult novel that I will publish in paperback and hardcover. The pb is 5.25 x 8 and the hc is 5 x 8. After a number of struggles, I have it set up the pb in Scribus. To do the hc, I duplicated the pb and opened the copy in Scribus, then changed the book size in Document Setup. Of course, the frames are now the wrong size, but I expected that. I started manually changing frame size and thought there must be a way to globally align all frames to the page size, but I can't find anything. So first question, is there a way to do this?

Second question: I manually resized the frames for 8 or 10 pages and noticed that in several of the pages the text did not go all the way to the bottom of the frame. There is one empty line. I didn't have this problem with the pb layout. In it, all text lined up at the bottom of each page automatically. I spent a good bit of time today trying to eliminate that space with no success. The only way I can do it is to change line spacing on the problem page and I don't want to do that. Any ideas on why this is happening and what I can do about it.
Title: Re: Line spacing in a frame
Post by: GarryP on January 23, 2018, 11:11:00 am
Welcome to the forum Ben.

As for your first question, is there "a way to globally align all frames to the page size" the simple answer is "No". (And I'm guessing that you mean aligning to the margin rather than the page itself.)

Scribus works with an absolute page size and absolute frame positions/sizes. Therefore, if the page size changes, then everything needs to be resized or moved - or at least reviewed - to accommodate that change. All Scribus frames - and other page 'furniture' - have an absolute position on the page with an absolute width and height and there are no ways of making any of these things relative to anything else, including the page dimensions. It's an unfortunate situation - in cases such as yours - but Scribus was created for print DTP and print pages don't change size. I.e. An A4 page will always be the size of an A4 page.

The less-simple answer is "Well, maybe, sort of" as you might be able to create - or find - a script that will go through a selection of text frames and change their positions/sizes relative to the new page size (I.e. margin size) but you will probably have to do some manual tweaking after it runs and you could end up making more of a mess of things if the script does more than it needs to do.

As for your second question, the answer would depend on knowing a lot of information that wasn't supplied. If you have a space at the bottom of some frames then I suspect that it's a consequence of your frame sizes not being fully compatible with the line spacing - or baseline grid settings - in conjunction with the font you are using. If you didn't have the problem with the paperback layout then that could have just been good luck unless you specifically designed things that way. You need to do quite a bit of experimentation to get this sort of thing right and can't rely on Scribus "knowing" what you want to do. Scribus will only do what you tell it to do and if you haven't designed the layout correctly it will probably not do what you want (or, you may be lucky).

Having said that, if your page height did not change from the paperback to the hardback then I think you might just have had lots of good luck with the paperback layout and then the bad luck came creeping in when you changed the page size.

Since you probably can't attach the document - for obvious reasons - it's difficult to say exactly what's going on. There are so many variables involved that's it's very difficult to diagnose the root cause of the problem without being able to look at it first hand. Even attaching sample images of problem pages where the text has been blurred probably wouldn't give enough information to work with. You could send the document to a specific person via a private message but that would probably assume a lot more trust on your part than you are comfortable with.

I've just created a very quick test document at 5.25x8in with 0.5556in margin distances, inserted some text frames to fill the margins and added some sample Lorem Ipsum text of Arial 12pt at 15pt spacing. I then changed the page size to 5x8in and resized the frames and didn't get the problem you are seeing. However, because you will be using a different font at a different size, and different line spacing - or baseline grid - with different margins etc. my test was fairly useless in diagnosing the problem. It showed that the problem isn't something that happens all the time but it doesn't show why you're getting it.

I'm not sure what to suggest at this point. If you shared the document - the paperback version - then someone could probably see exactly what was going on but that would mean you would have to be comfortable with doing that. (There's no point sharing it with me as you're using 1.5.3 and I am only using the stable version, currently 1.4.6, and the documents are not backwards compatible).

Hopefully another forum user has seen the same thing you are seeing and knows what went wrong and how to fix it.

P.S. A moderator might want to move this post to a more appropriate forum section so don't be surprised if it goes somewhere else.
Title: Re: Line spacing in a frame
Post by: BenWoodard on January 23, 2018, 06:09:48 pm
Wow, Garry. Thanks for taking the time for an in-depth reply. Scribus is a great program, but because it only several times a year, each time is a struggle to remember what I did before. And the solution always seems to be spending hours with trial and error. That's what I did with the paperback and figured the hardcover would be easy. Nope. Which is way I posted. Trying to save that time. While you didn't have a definitive answer, you gave me some ideas. I've never set up the baseline grid, only relying on line spacing to get things right. After reading the Wiki on the bg, it looks like to two have to work in tandem so that bg and line spacing together give me the page layout I want. Is this right? If so, I should be able to do this manually. The Wiki recommends using Styles so everything is automatic, but I probably won't get into that yet. Today I'll do my "trial and error" and see what happens.

Thanks again for your help,
Title: Re: Line spacing in a frame
Post by: utnik on January 23, 2018, 07:19:24 pm
hi ben

the wiki is right in recommending the use of styles. i would never set up a whole book without paragraph styles!
…and i would rather create a new file for the hardcover book and fill in the content of the paperback than going through the whole process of resizing all the frames.

a careful setup at the beginning (styles, baseline grid…) will safe you time and frustration – and it makes your project easier to handle if you decide to change some of the base settings (like the main font…) in a later stage.

if you need someone to take a look at a file created with scribus 1.5.3, you may show it to me. i can't promise to solve every problem, but i often find the source of them…

Title: Re: Line spacing in a frame
Post by: GarryP on January 24, 2018, 11:34:46 am
You're welcome Ben.

If you have any document that spans multiple pages then the baseline grid is something that needs to be looked at. It makes it much easier to keep text aligned than line spacing and - for most text - if you use the baseline grid then other types of line spacing become irrelevant. I.e. The baseline grid says how the text is aligned across all text frames in the document and negates the need for "normal" line spacing. Just remember to format the text using the baseline grid rather than automatic/fixed line spacing.

Styles are really easy to set-up and maintain and should be used for everything that isn't a 'one-off'. Headings, body text, pull-quotes, etc. should all be formatted using styles that are set to use the baseline grid. That way you will know that all of your text is automatically aligned across all pages. You might need to use another form of line spacing every now and again but they should be special cases.

Just to add an extra little bit of advice to what utnik has given, I would start with creating character styles and then basing paragraph styles on the character styles. That gives you a lot more possibilities when it comes to formatting. The styles-UI can seem a little complicated at first but once you've played around with it for a while you'll soon get used to it. Creating a style - character or paragraph - is no more difficult than formatting text via the Properties Palette - most of the options are the same in both - and they are so powerful and useful that you will wonder how you did things without them.

As utnik said, once you have character and paragraph styles set-up - in conjunction with the baseline grid - you can make changes to things like the font in a few clicks that would take you hours otherwise. (It also makes experimentation much easier.)

It can be difficult to remember this stuff if you only use the software a few times a year but if you remember to use styles and the baseline grid then you'll be off to a good start each time. I.e. If all of your documents use both then you'll keep using them and they'll stick in your mind more easily.
Title: Re: Line spacing in a frame
Post by: BenWoodard on January 24, 2018, 07:11:12 pm
Thanks Garry and Utnik. Excellent info. And you've convinced me—styles it is. I tried one today, but it didn't give me what I wanted. I'll scrap it and try again. It appears to me that the best thing about styles is the global control. Perfect. I did notice that my chapter heads changed when I applied the style, so I suppose that means I need to set up a style for the heads and apply it manually to each chapter after I gotten the body text right. Unless there's an easier way. Or should I use another text box?

Thanks again, and I only wish I had signed up for the forum years ago.
Title: Re: Line spacing in a frame
Post by: GarryP on January 25, 2018, 10:56:48 am
A bit of planning is needed to use styles well but it's not too much work. Consider the - very crude and quickly constructed - attached document.

Two base character styles have been created: "Body Text" and "Chapter Text".
Two character styles have been created that are based on the Body Text character style: "Body Text Emphasis" and "Body Text Standout".
Two character styles have also been created based on the Chapter Text style: "Chapter Number" and "Chapter Name".
Three paragraph styles have been created: "Body Text" based on the Body Text character style; "Chapter Number" based on the Chapter Number character style; and "Chapter Name" based on the Chapter Name character style.

I first told Scribus to format the whole of the text in the frame with the Body Text paragraph style as that's the style that is most used.
Then the chapter number was given the Chapter Number paragraph style and the Chapter Name was given the Chapter Name paragraph style.
The bold text was created by applying the Body Text Emphasis character style and the red text was created by applying the Body Text Standout character style.

Once this has been done, I can change the baseline grid size and, because all of the paragraph styles use the baseline grid, the whole document changes instantly. I can also change the fonts used by the base character styles (not the paragraph styles) and, again, the whole document changes instantly.

Note: There is a "bug" in 1.4.6 which means that changes to the base character style do not always ripple up to the character styles that are based on it but the amount of work needed to rectify this is minimal.

How you use styles is really dependant on the document itself and how you want to work with it but a little bit of planning at the start will make changes much easier to make later on.
Title: Re: Line spacing in a frame
Post by: Nermander on January 25, 2018, 06:22:56 pm
Very good description of the use of Styles.

Most people start in the wrong end I think, they create paragraph styles first, which means when they need to have a separate style for bold text they mess things up.
Title: Re: Line spacing in a frame
Post by: BenWoodard on January 26, 2018, 01:11:53 am
Thanks again, Garry. Your sample is perfect for explaining styles.

So here's what I think I know and the different ways I can format a book.
1. Write the book in a word processor and save the file as an .odt. Set up the .sla file with size, margins, and pages with frames. Load the .odt into the .sla one chapter at a time. All formatting will be correct. Italics, bold, no chapter first line indent, chapter name and number, etc. Apply baseline grid (I can do this without styles, right?). Apply hyphenation and manually correct any widows, orphans, or improper word spacing. And Im done. The negative is I can't change font type, font size, or margins. To do any of that, I have to go back to the word processor, make the corrections, and start over.

2. Set up styles as Garry did for his sample. Separate styles for italics, bold, chapter title, chapter number, and maybe others. Set up the .sla file with size, margins, and pages with frames. Load in book text formatted or not. Apply paragraph style to entire document. Manually apply styles to italics, bold, etc. Remove indentation on chapter first line, apply hyphenation, and manually correct any widows, orphans, or improper word spacing. And Im done. Now I can make changes to fonts and font sizes, but I still can't easily change the margins.

Does this make sense, and is it right? If so, then I need to decide which might be easier.
Title: Re: Line spacing in a frame
Post by: GarryP on January 26, 2018, 02:30:54 pm
If I was writing a book I would probably use a plain text editor (with a decent spell-check function) rather than a word processor. (Notepad++ and WriteMonkey are good Windows applications and the standard text editor on OS X was good too as far as I remember.) The reason for this is because I would want to avoid the temptation of applying formatting before the text is imported into Scribus.

While Scribus can import some formatting from ODT files (and others) it can't import character formatting - any formatting on text fragments smaller than a paragraph - and variants like bold and italic are not handled well. Also, line spacing, indentation, and other formatting specific to the word processor will probably not come though properly. Some formatting will be imported while some will not. This may give a false sense that everything has gone well when it hasn't.

While writing the text I would give myself some markers in the text where I would want formatting to be applied, probably using things like <b>this text should be bold</b> but using characters that would not be present in the real text. Once the text has been imported into Scribus I could then search for the various markers, remove the markers, and apply the character/paragraph style as needed. A quick search for the "special" characters used would give a final check that they have all been removed.

Having the formatting markers in the original text file means that the "formatting" is still there if you need to go back to revise the text and re-import into Scribus (e.g. for a new edition).

Importing the text one chapter at a time is a good idea. Keeping your text frame chains down to a reasonable size will help to keep Scribus running quickly. This also means that automatic frames should not be used.

The baseline grid - while it can be used by styles - is totally independent to the styles themselves. The baseline grid is always there whether you use it or not.

You can import styles from another document so you don't have to re-create them each time but you will have to apply them manually in each new document.

All of the formatting should be done after the text has been finalised and imported into a document with the correct page/margin sizes. Any carefully-made changes to things like tracking/hyphenation/widows etc. will be undone if the text flows differently. Just moving a margin by a few millimetres can make a huge difference to how the text flows.

Apply the paragraph formatting first, then apply the character formatting. Only do hyphenation and things like that once the text has been properly formatted.

The work-flow for writing a book will be largely dependant on the author's preferences but the "old-fashioned" process where the author writes the text (creates the text file), and then the editor edits that text (adds formatting/layout and printing instructions), and then the typesetter creates the document (i.e. puts everything together into Scribus) would seem to work well even if those different people were the same person. There isn't really a "best way", there's just the way that works best for your creative process.
Title: Re: Line spacing in a frame
Post by: GarryP on January 26, 2018, 05:16:23 pm
Actually, an idea just popped into my head.

If you're up to doing something a bit different, you could use Brackets - free and open source - in combination with Chrome - again free, but not wholly open source - to edit an HTML file in Brackets while getting a live preview in Chrome of how the text will look. Make the Chrome window about the same ratio as the page you'll be using and you'll get a decent basic idea of how it will look when printed.

The code below gives a simple example of what you can do and an example screen-shot is attached.
Just import the HTML into Scribus as plain text and strip out the stuff you don't need. (You can search/replace the <p>'s and </p>'s away very easily to leave you with just the text you need.)

I've not actually used this myself - as I say, it just came to me - and I'm not sure how well it will work with a long book, but I think it's something that I might try if I need to.
Code: [Select]
<html class="no-js" lang="en">

    <meta charset="utf-8" />
    <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0">
        cno {
            display: block;
            font-family: "Times New Roman", Times, serif;
            text-align: center;
            font-size: 46pt;
            margin-bottom: 20pt;
        cname {
            display: block;
            font-family: "Times New Roman", Times, serif;
            text-align: center;
            font-size: 26pt;
            font-style: italic;
            margin-bottom: 24pt;
        p {
            display: block;
            font-family: "Arial", Helvetica, sans-serif;
            margin-bottom: 8;
            text-indent: 12;
            font-size: 12pt;
        b {
            font-weight: 600;
        i {
            font-style: italic;

    <cname>This is the fourth chapter</cname>
    <p><b>Lorem Ipsum</b> is simply dummy text of the <i>printing</i> and <i>typesetting</i> industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of <i>Letraset</i> sheets containing <b>Lorem Ipsum</b> passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.</p>
    <p>Contrary to popular belief, <b>Lorem Ipsum</b> is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..", comes from a line in section 1.10.32.</p>
    <p>It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using 'Content here, content here', making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for 'lorem ipsum' will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).</p>

Title: Re: Line spacing in a frame
Post by: BenWoodard on January 27, 2018, 07:03:18 pm
Interestingly enough, importing from .odt gave me perfect formatting for my paperback. Even the line spacing was correct. Only when I changed page size for the hardcover did everything go all to hell. But as you said above, maybe blind luck.

Thanks for all your help on this, Garry. I'll have to process your suggestions and try them. At least now I know what to do, I'll just have to figure out how to do it. And I think on the next book, I'll follow your suggestions on writing in a text editor and formatting in Scribus. For my hardcover, since I already have it formatted in .odt, I'll try what I did with the paperback and hope it works as well.
Title: Re: Line spacing in a frame
Post by: GarryP on January 28, 2018, 10:19:06 am
You're welcome.

When you publish, you could put some details in a new 2018 page on the Success Stories section of the wiki: