Create a flyer with the free Scribus desktop publishing software

Arranging Items

Although you can distribute all the elements of the flyer strictly by eye, if you want to arrange the individual objects with a certain regularity, you can ask Scribus to help you with its Align and Distribute tool, which you open from the Windows menu.

By default, the software aligns all the selected objects by the First Selected element as a reference. You can, however, align a set of items by Guide, Margins, or Selection instead. You can also specify whether the program aligns the objects by Moving them or by Resizing. Ten different variations in horizontal and vertical direction are available by clicking an icon in the alignment options (Figure 7).

Figure 7: The Align and Distribute tabs facilitate placing several similar elements.

If you want to distribute objects (e.g., multiple photos) evenly with equal spacing in a row, 14 options are available by clicking an icon. The Distance setting lets you adjust the spacing of elements.

After inserting, for example, four photos (or at least creating the frames for them), you can select the four frames then click on Windows | Align and Distribute. In the Align tab, select the Center on horizontal axis icon (mouse over the icons to see all your choices), then go to the Distribute tab and specify Distribute centers equidistantly horizontally to assign equal distances between the frames. Scribus distributes the selected objects between the first and the last selected elements (Figure  7).

Once you've distributed and arranged objects using Scribus, it's time to add graphics to liven up the whole look. For a party flyer, anything goes – you can use balloons, garlands, scrolls, paint blotches, or just about anything that looks full of happiness and life.

You can make this step easier for yourself by first placing all the graphics candidates on the work surface, where you also can store them temporarily if they interfere with other work on the document. From there, you choose the image you need and arrange it in the document.


After arranging all the items and achieving satisfactory results, it's best to stop working on the document for a moment. Especially when have worked on a project for some time, you should put a little distance between it and yourself. After some time, take a close look at your creation again – ideally in a quiet moment and as hard copy: This makes it easier to detect errors and inconsistencies. It also pays to call in an independent third party to take a look at the design. Errors and omissions in particular will catch the proofreader's attention much faster than yours, because you know what you want, and your mind will try to meet those expectations.

Next, it's time to clean up. Remove all the unnecessary objects, such as hidden items and objects you have placed on the work surface. Then, you can also ditch your alternative design, if you created one, before continuing to export the data.

For a good impression of how the flyer will appear later, use the print preview (File  | Print Preview). Select Display CMYK to gain a sense of what the flyer could look like after converting to CMYK colors, which are used in the printing process. For flyers on glossy paper, however, the preview is a little closer to the real thing if you disable this option (Figure 8).

Figure 8: Use Print Preview to see how the flyer will look after conversion to CMYK colors. In the preview, Scribus naturally can't consider the type of paper you will be using.

PDF Export

If you want to send the flyer to a commercial printer or copy shop to reproduce it, or even if you only plan to send it via email or the web, PDF is the format of choice. In this way, the document will look basically the same everywhere and thus always convey the message you intended.

For the PDF export, Scribus offers compatibility with the PDF 1.3, 1.4, and 1.5 standards, as well as the PDF/X-3 format frequently required by printers. During the export process, the program checks the data and issues warnings if it encounters any problems that you need to correct (e.g., missing characters or fonts, the wrong resolution in an image).

The export function does not check whether all the photos and graphics are integrated correctly, so you will not get any warnings if the document contains photos in RGB mode instead of CMYK mode, as needed for printing. You have to pay attention to this yourself. Even impermissible transparencies (particularly in gradients) are not always spotted correctly by the application.

You also need to adjust some settings in the PDF export. For example, all fonts used in the PDF need to be embedded. Scribus does this by default, but you should check the settings in the Fonts tab. In the Pre-Press tab, take a look at the output profile: It must correspond to your print shop's specifications (Figure 9).

Figure 9: The PDF export lets you create files that are suitable for use on the Internet or for sending to a print shop.

If you want to create a PDF for the web, adjust the General settings and configure the compression quality for your images. Additionally, Generate Thumbnails under File Options often proves useful.

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