Layouts without payouts

Last time, I talked about using Inkscape to create many of my logos, patches, etc. This time, thought I would mention what I use when the need is more of a publication, not so much a single graphic. For these cases I use two primary tools/systems: Scribus and TeX/LaTeX.

The FOSS realm provides a lot of tools to replace/supplement proprietary tools. For creating publications (books, flyers, and so on), the main industry tool is InDesign. Unfortunately, even with the subscription model, InDesign is still not a big option when starting out. For me, I found Scribus to be a workable replacement. Again, as with Inkscape, you get what you pay for. With Scribus, you get basic Desktop Publishing (DTP) capability in a free and open tool. Unlike a word processor like LibreOffice (think Office for FOSS), a DTP like Scribus does more than simply put words on a page. A DTP takes words and makes them work on a page. Any time you see a book, magazine, (most) flyers, you are seeing the results of DTP.

I’ll put a caveat – you won’t likely see many results of Scribus here or on my gallery pages. Unless I need to create a book-like product, I don’t use DTP much. Now, one example that will likely use DTP for some final production processes will be the Trigrams deck. This is mostly due to the needs of a potential printer.

Are there other ways to create well-formatted things like books? Yes there are. Another tool I’ve used (mostly for a handbook project) is a system called TeX (not a typo). TeX is a typesetting (or document production) system, not so much a publishing software like Scribus or InDesign. Instead, TeX focuses on the text itself, using tagging to create the output later on. Because of this, TeX tends to resemble HTML or other tagged documents. However, TeX needs other tools to actually render the pages. For this, I use LaTeX editors like TeXstudio. Keep in mind with things like TeX – it looks ‘ugly’ while making, but create some nice looking results. One final note about TeX – if you need to do fancy math equations or similar things, TeX is really good at rendering those things in a document. You’d be hardpressed to replicate them in a regular word processor.

TeX Users Group: http://tug.org

Scribus: https://www.scribus.net

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