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Scribus is a full-featured Qt-based desktop publishing package available for Linux, Windows, MacOS, and other operating systems. Scribus uses its own XML-based file format .sla to to store documents. It is Unicode native and supports layouts with complex scripts such as kanji and right-to-left scripts such as Arabic and Hebrew. In Scribus the document is just a canvas with various frames. Text must be placed inside of a text frame. Images tables have their own frame types and, much like commonly used graphics programs such as GIMP, frames can be layered to achive a specific effect.

Scribus can import text from a variety of common open formats with various limitations. OpenDocument Text .odt documents have the highest degree of support, Scribus' import filter can import document text along with paragraph style information. Additionally, HTML and PUB documents have a high degree of support as well. Microsoft's Office Open XML .docx can be read by Scribus with reasonable fidelity. Indirect support for legacy Microsoft Word .doc files is possible indirectly via antiword. Lowest common denominator file formats such as .rtf, MarkDown, and plain text will work but by their nature contain no useful paragraph formatting information.

Support for Desktop Publishing File Formats

Generally, Scribus cannot read or write the closed source undocumented file formats of commercial desktop publishing programs. The rare exception being Scribus support for the Microsoft Publisher 2000 documents by means of the libmspub library produced by the OpenDocument foundation. This library has partial import capability for Publisher 95–98 documents but functionality remains spotty.

Lightweight desktop publishing interchange formats such as QuarkXPress Tag, InDesign's IDML, and InCopy's ICML can all be used with Scribus as they're publicly documented.


USE flags

USE flags for app-office/scribus Desktop publishing (DTP) and layout program

boost Enable support for Boost based enhancement
debug Enable extra debug codepaths, like asserts and extra output. If you want to get meaningful backtraces see
examples Install examples, usually source code
graphicsmagick Build and link against GraphicsMagick instead of ImageMagick (requires USE=imagemagick if optional)
hunspell Enable support for spell checking with app-text/hunspell
minimal Don't install headers (only required for e.g. plug-in developers)
osg 3D rendering via dev-games/openscenegraph
pdf Add general support for PDF (Portable Document Format), this replaces the pdflib and cpdflib flags
scripts Install the scripts
templates Document templates
tk Install tk based scripts e.g.


root #emerge --ask app-office/scribus

Additional software

Legacy Microsoft Word .doc document file support via antiword.


user $scribus --help
Scribus, Open Source Desktop Publishing

Usage: scribus [options] [files]

     -fi,  --font-info                      Show information on the console when fonts are being loaded
     -h,   --help                           Print help (this message) and exit
     -l,   --lang                           Uses xx as shortcut for a language, eg `en' or `de'
     -la,  --langs-available                List the currently installed interface languages
     -ns,  --no-splash                      Do not show the splashscreen on startup
     -nns, --never-splash                   Stop showing the splashscreen on startup. Writes an empty file called .neversplash in ~/.config/scribus
     -pr,  --prefs <path>                   Use path for user given preferences location
     -pi,  --profile-info                   Show location of ICC profile information on console while starting
     -u,   --upgradecheck                   Download a file from the Scribus website and show the latest available version
     -v,   --version                        Output version information and exit
     -py,  --python-script <script> [arguments ...]  Run script in Python [with optional arguments]. This option must be last option used
     -g,   --no-gui                         Do not start GUI
     --                                     Explicit end of command line options


Scribus can import .doc files on Windows but not on Linux

Scribus uses antiword as an import filter for legacy Microsoft Office .doc files. Upstream builds of Scribus for Windows bundle antiword with with Scribus. Upstream builds for Linux do not contain antiword by default but will use it if it happens to be present on the system. Gentoo mimics this behavior. This issue can be addressed by installing antiword:

root #emerge --ask app-text/antiword

Once Scribus is restarted the .doc will become a valid import option. Alternatively, if LibreOffice is installed the document can be converted to OpenDocument Text format directly:

user $libreoffice --headless --convert-to odt *.doc



root #emerge --ask --depclean --verbose app-office/scribus

See also

  • TeX Live — a complete TeX distribution with several programs to create professional documents.
  • AsciiDoc
  • LibreOffice — a full office productivity suite.
  • pandoc — a command line tool for document format and markup language conversion written in Haskell
  • antiword — a program for displaying legacy Microsoft Word .doc documents in common use from MS Word 97 – 2007 as plain text.