Page Layout/DLP for print options...

I’ve published 8 books using Apple’s Pages for both editing and layout - the Pages '09 version that still supported left and right pages, etc. My books are attractive but relatively simply layouts with lots of inline images/photos, single column, TOC, index, glossary, footnotes, page numbers, etc and typically 200 pages or so. Simple stuff.

I just started using Scrivener for my next book and imported 50+ pages of text and split and organized it. Very impressive and it fits my writing style and work flow MUCH better than a linear word processor. It’s still early but given how many pages I’ve written, rearranged, annotated, etc this is going to cut down my pre-publication time by at least 50%. I tended to format/layout on the fly in Pages too and that really cut into productivity when odd things happened like images jumping to other pages, etc - and these things happened a lot. And being just slightly OCD, my attention would be diverted to “fixing” these issues on the fly. With Scrivener I don’t have to worry about that as I’m concentrating on the words and not the layout at the same time.

So here I am with a well organized draft that’s about 80% done. The rest is basically simple writing so I’ll be done quickly. Now I am thinking about the DLP/page layout step. I recently got Nisus Writer Pro for OSX and it is a few steps above Pages. I certainly could use it but I think I’m ready to explore other options. I’d prefer an OSX-only workflow but I do have Windows 10 too. I don’t want to go down the full Adobe InDesign path, too complex and expensive. I looked at Serif PagePlus 9 but 1) it is no longer supported and 2) it doesn’t handle footnotes. Here’s an example of the first page in the new book so you’l have a general sense of what I want to do. I might want to go with two columns.

So, I’d like to see if anyone has experience with other OSX or Windows options with the following requirements:

Hard Requirements:

  • easily handle 250 pages, 200 photos/images
  • auto number footnotes
  • auto table of contents generation
  • word wrap around non-rectangular images
  • ability to do real sidebars for both text and images
  • supports left/right pages
  • supports single and double columns
  • not overly complicated to use
  • less than $300US

OSX preferred but Windows 10 if it meets the list of requirements. I’ve googled until I was blue in the fingers and explored a number of options that all petered out. I ran across Scrivener as part of that search and found it by accident, so I’m hopeful that there might be a DLP option out there with a cult following that I haven’t found!


Scribus? Open source DTP system handles many of your requirements and definitely beats the final one as you can download it from But before you spend money (aka bandwidth) downloading perhaps take a look around their wiki at to see whether all the features you need are present. They have a series of success stories that will you how others have used it for very complex documents. You have a choice of macOS or Windows versions or both for the same money.

Thanks for the link. I had heard of Scribus but had not checked it out. The new 1.5 version supports footnotes. IT looks very compelling so I’m working my way through the docs. Are there any tools/scripts to integrate Scrivener with Scribus that you know of?

So close! I spent the day installing, reading, working through tutorials and then starting to move some text over into Scribus. I’ve got a few snags that may or may not be del breakers. Overall, very impressive. Unfortunately, the changes from 1.4 to 1.5 really made the Properties panel almost unbearable to use (OSX version). But 1.5 is the first version with support for footnotes-a hard requirement for me. I’ve got footnotes working reasonably well now. Just a few little nits like how best to put a short separator line between the footnotes and main body of page. And adding a little extra margin above and below the footnote text by adding space to the frame seems like not the right way to do this as it requires a manual edit for every footnote frame!

The second thing is for the life of me I can’t figure out how to make page numbers start at “1” for my Introduction chapter.

And the last thing is lists - bullets and numbers. Apparently it’s a long standing issue that Scribus has no built-in list support. I don’t have a lot of lists but I would like to figure out what the best practice is. I suppose making a new style for each level (I only ever have 2 anyway) but I can’t find any examples.

The other annoying thing is that scrolling with my magic mouse is lightening fast and problematic for that reason. I an’t slow the mouse down in the system as that then affects all of my other apps. A little painful but I could deal with that if I can figure out lists, page numbers and footnotes.

Out of curiosity, what are the options to get Scrivener’s text into Scribus?

I’m just copying and pasting. Scribus can import rtf into the text frames as well. I wanted to build up my book in chapters just to test things out. Now that I’ve almost got it set up the way I want I’ll probably start a fresh document and import the rtf in one pass when I’m ready to lay out the final.

I think you can do almost everything in your list with Scrivener, except two things:

  • word wrap around non-rectangular images
  • ability to do real sidebars…

The second I don’t even know what it is in printed text.

Pages isn’t too shabby for a light-weight desktop publishing program. It’s perfectly fine for the internal book block of a novel.

My preferred solution though is to write in Scrivener, then export to Markdown -> HTML+CSS -> PDF using PrinceXML

Prince produces PDFs that are, in my opinion, every bit as good as Indesign.

I thought Prince cost a gazillion $$$? I love the idea of having a super powerful CSS engine for layout, and I’ve seen very good reports from everyone that has used Prince; a successor to LaTeX…

You’re not wrong. It’s not much cheaper than an Indesign licence for the desktop edition. It was a work expense for though; I use for my day job as a technical writer as part of my automated production and deployment for the suite of documents I author. Once I created this process (mostly glued together with python and Bash) it was a no-brainer to apply it to my fiction writing.

Actually I just checked and for non-commercial use it is free (good for academics and students at least), and yes nearly $500 for desktop commercial use. They do have a sister company or something that does online conversion, perhaps that means you can hammer out a version on non-commercial prince then use docraptor on demand? — the download is a tiny 6MB for the whole system!!!

That’s exactly what it means.

I started with the free version before I ponied up for the desktop licence. It’s identical in terms of features but it watermarks the first page of the PDF. As you said, that’s fine for education, as well as those wishing to evaluate and learn how to use it. The learning curve isn’t very high if you already know HTML, CSS and Javascript.