Master Pages, Guides, and Scrapbook

This chapter presents some features of Scribus which will help you create a logical and coherent structure of your document, and in the process demonstrate ways to keep your document organized by its structural components.

Here we will show three features:

  • Master Pages are applied as a background for your pages, and contain objects which will be seen repetitively on various pages.
  • Guides are horizontal and vertical lines with some magnetic properties, to help align various elements in your layout structure.
  • The scrapbook is a place to store individual objects so they can be reused on various pages at various locations.

Master Pages

As indicated above, Master Pages contain objects which are seen again and again as a background of sorts for the rest of your content. Typical objects on a Master Page might be titles with associated graphics, and a page number.

The Outline

You can bring up a dialog showing an outline of your document(s) with Windows > Outline. This bring up a tree display of your currently open documents, and underneath, the list of Master Pages, and each document page. You can use this to navigate to each to these items for editing. Clicking on a Master Page brings up the Edit Master Pages dialog, in addition to displaying the Master Page for editing.

Arrange Pages

By clicking Windows > Arrange Pages you bring up another dialog, which also lists your Master Pages and document pages, but in addition can be used for navigation as well, but also assigning or reassigning Master Pages to various document pages. Double-clicking on a Master Page will bring up the Edit Master Pages dialog.

Creating Master Pages

In addition to the above two methods for editing Master Pages, you can choose Edit > Master Pages from the main menu. Note that whenever the Edit Master Pages dialog is open, you see on the canvas and are editing Master Pages, not the document page. Close the Edit Master Pages dialog to revert to displaying and editing document pages.


It is possible to make a Master Page from a regular document page, by selecting from the menu Page > Convert to Master Page. Next, select a name for this new Master Page, and also note that you can select to copy the items from whatever Master Page may have been applied to the document page.

You can assign Master Pages in three ways:

  • by assigning the Master Page when a new page is inserted. (Page > Insert).
  • by applying a Master Page to an individual page.
  • by applying a Master Page to a series of pages.

With the current stable versions of Scribus, Master Pages are always operating as a background to any other content on the page, thus it will always show underneath the lowest layer of your document page.

Reusing Master Pages

You can also can import Master Pages from another document. Click the third button from the left in the Edit Master Pages dialog, after which you select the document and the particular items you wish to import. Be sure that you have access to any needed images or fonts.


Guides are a fundamental element of your document layout, and might most appropriately be used in your Master Pages considering their placement as a background for the document. These horizontal and vertical lines, which are not seen after export to PDF, help define spaces for visual balance, and assist in the alignment and organization of the content of your document pages.

Grid or columns

There are two commonly used patterns of guide usage:

  • A modular grid,  consisting of rectangular areas of similar or the same size, so that one might use one or more of these spaces to place text and graphics.
  • Layout columns, where the same number of columns is used throughout the document. Note that images or illustrations may span two or more columns.

Above: a grid type of layout.

Above: page layout in 2 columns.

The grid is typically more demanding, since it often requires page-by-page decisions about sizing and placing of various elements.

Adding guides

The simplest method to add guides is to click and drag from the ruler areas. Click-dragging from the ruler will create vertical guides, and from the top ruler, horizontal guides. If you don't see anything, make sure you have View > Show Guides checked in the menu.

Next, make sure you have checked Page > Snap to Guides. To see how this works, make an arbitrary frame, then drag it near a guide. Compare the difference between having Snap to Guides checked or unchecked.

To move your guides, hover the mouse over the guide until you see the cursor change to a double arrow shape, at which time you can click-drag to adjust its position. To delete a guide, click-drag off the page, then release the mouse button.

Managing guides

When the layout must conform to some pattern according to the dimensions of your page size or the space inside the margins, you may find using Page > Manage Guides useful, in which case single or double guides can be placed with high precision. An example was the brochure guides created in the chapter Hands-on. Here you may also lock guides to prevent accidental changes.

Predefined settings for guides and grid

By selecting File > Document Settings > Guides (for the current document) or File > Preferences > Preferences (for future documents), you have the ability to change some settings for guides, such as the placement above or below content, activity of the snapping, and the color of the guides, In addition, you might choose to show a grid as an automatic substitute for a modular pattern of guides. The grid has two kinds of lines, major (thicker) and minor (thinner), with the spacing of each adjustable.

While you are creating your guides, make sure you consider the need for spaces or gutters between guides, which will be free of content, or white space. In certain modular grid layouts this may not be a consideration if the design has large areas of white space already. Certainly if you are creating text columns with your grid, a gutter will be needed.

In instances like this, you may find that manual placement of the guides is more suitable.


The scrapbook is a library or collection of objects which you find you use repeatedly within a document, and especially in many different documents. Your scrapbook is opened every time you start Scribus, and contains all objects you have saved to it, so it avoids the need to import from some document, the name and location of which you would have to remember.

It is accessed from Windows > Scrapbook. By default, you have a Main page of scrapbook objects, but you can create more pages in the dialog.

Scrapbook operation

Until you save something to the Scrapbook it is empty. To save some object, right-click to bring up the context menu, then select Send to Scrapbook > Main (or some other page you may have created there). You will be prompted to give it a name, after which it will be saved with various properties, such as fill and outline, and even styles. All Scribus objects can be saved in this manner, including Groups of objects.

A simple way to place an scrapbook object is to click-drag it to your document, where you may then modify it as you wish without affecting the copy saved in your Scrapbook. If you right-click on the object in the Scrapbook, then click Paste to Page, you will place the object at the same coordinates of the current page that it had on the original page it was saved from.

Managing the Scrapbook

As noted above, the Scrapbook objects will be accessible every time you start Scribus. Creating new pages in the Scrapbook can help your organization of objects for specific purposes. Although Scribus refers to these as pages, you will create a new directory for storing more objects.

You can also export a Scrapbook to an external directory by clicking the Save the selected scrapbook button, which may be of use to share these objects with someone else or perhaps to another computer you may have. That other person would then click the Load an existing scrapbook button to bring those objects into his Scrapbook.

In addition, there is a separate button for importing a Scrapbook from a version of Scribus which is 1.3.2 or older.