Scribus vs Publisher – All You Need To Know

When it comes to creating professional documents, desktop publishing software is the ideal solution to use.

These software programs are packed with the necessary features needed in preparing, editing, publishing, printing, and more. 

With desktop publishing software, you can create both basic documents and complex ones that involve much graphic; you can also create electronic media. 

If you want to search for the best desktop publishing software, you’ll be met with a variety of options among which are Scribus and MS Publisher.

In this post, I’ll be comparing Scribus vs Publisher. We shall discuss all you need to know about both platforms so you can choose the best one to go with.

What Is Scribus?

Developed by the Scribus Team, Scribus is a desktop publishing software released in 2003. It can be used by both beginners and professionals and supports multiple desktop operating systems and multiple languages; 60 languages are supported in total.

This open-source software is based on a QT library. It has been used in producing magazines, posters, newsletters, presentations, books, etc

You can work with different graphic formats in Scribus and the software supports ICC management and SVG. Support for macro programmability means you can load Python scripts in Scribus.

An advantage of using Scribus is that the software stores files in the XML file format. This allows you to read the files using simple text editors.

If you’re searching for free desktop publishing software, Scribus is one of the best out there. The software is supported by some top brands and as open-source software, any developer can contribute to its development.

What Is Publisher?

From the tech giant Microsoft, Publisher was first introduced in 1991 and has since then gone through several updates along with the Microsoft Office Suite.

Interestingly, Publisher is often used by graphic design beginners due to its simple interface. It is similar to MS word except that it allows more drag-and-drop flexibility for graphics and text.

Despite its simplicity, you can create diverse office graphics with Publisher. Besides, it features several personalization tools, mail merge tools, professional-level effects, etc.  However, unlike other Microsoft Office suite programs like Word, Excel, etc, Publisher is PC only.

Publisher is a premium desktop publishing software. To use the most recent versions, you need a Microsoft 365 subscription. 

Nevertheless, older versions of the software like 2003, 2007, 2010, etc. can be used for free when installed along with the MS Office Suite, although they might lack some features.

Also Read: Bad Graphic Design Examples



In essence, Scribus supports different operating systems; hence, its setup process varies. Nevertheless, you first have to download the software from the developer’s website.

From the stable release download page, different versions for different OS are featured. Simply click on your particular version and you’ll be redirected to the download page. Download the file and once completed, run it. You can also download development candidate versions.

Depending on your device type, you can get detailed installation instructions from the Scribus Wiki. However, it’s quite easy to install Scribus on Windows; all you need to do is to follow the prompts.


As a premium software, you have to first purchase the Publisher desktop publishing application by paying for an Office 365 subscription. You can use the software on a trial basis for one month but you’ll have to include your credit card details.

Once you’ve paid, you can download the MS Office Suite which comes with Publisher and also Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, and Access. Run the Office Suite file for installation and all these software programs will be installed at once.

A second option is buying an MS Office installation disc and running it via your PC’s CD drive. Your Product Key will be needed to authenticate your purchase.


With either Scribus or Publisher, the setup process is hassle-free.

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Scribus features 33 premade templates. This includes a brochure, calendar, magazine, greeting cards, graphs, book templates, and more. These templates are from Scribus users. In fact, users can create and submit templates to be featured in the Scribus template library and they are all released for free.

To use these templates, you have to first download the zip file and install the document in the Scribus Program files of your PC. 

Once installed, they’ll be featured when you select to generate a new file from a template. To submit your own templates, you have to save them as .sla files and zip them.


Microsoft Office is renowned for having thousands of templates. For Publisher, there are templates for banners, brochures, calendars, flyers, certificates, letterhead, websites, etc.

Furthermore, for each template category, you get newer designs, classic designs, special offers, and blank size templates. Before importing a template, you can customize the color scheme, font scheme, information, and other options.

These templates are featured within the Publisher environment and you can access more templates from the Office online template library. Likewise, you can save your unique publications as a Publisher template file.


Publisher features more templates than Scribus. 



Scribus features nine main page layout types. They include the word processor layout, website layout, basic two-column layout, basic three-column layout, alternative three-column layout, company report layout, magazine layout, mixed-columns layout, and non-columnar layout.

The layouts make it easy for new users to familiarize themselves with the app environment. For instance, users coming from a word processor can use the word processor layout while website creators can easily adjust with the website layout.

The two and three-column layouts are best for magazines, newspapers, and other publications that feature multi-column pages. Users looking to create fun documents can use the non-columnar layout.


You can access all of Publisher’s layouts from the blank page sizes when you’re creating a new file. There are about 18 different page layout styles featured in this desktop publishing software.

After selecting your ideal page layout, you can further customize the pages by dividing them into two, three, or more columns via the format section. Also, you can adjust the page margins.


With more defined page layouts, Scribus wins over Publisher here.



There are several publishing tools featured in Scribus. You can work with text frames, image frames, render frames, story editor, master pages, etc.

Notably, Scribus features a couple of PDF, PostScript, and Imposition tools. There is the bookbinder, PDF split and merge, PDFtk, multivalent, etc.

Furthermore, Scribus features a unique pagination method. Although it’s somewhat complex, you’ll find it a lot more flexible. 

Other things you can do with Scribus include creating tables, lists, adding dates, footnotes, symbols, etc.

Finally, Scribus features a spell-checking tool from Aspell. This will help you correct misspellings among your texts.


Publisher features similar tools with other MS Office suite programs. This includes tools like the spell checker for checking spelling errors, research for referencing, design checker, graphics manager, autocorrect, etc.

Furthermore, with Publisher, you can easily section your pages, add page numbers, date and time, design gallery objects, pictures, texts, shapes, and other objects. As you create your publication, you can arrange different elements via grouping, ruler guides, alignment, text wrapping, etc.

A notable tool that Publisher features is the text translator. You can select texts on your publication and quickly translate them into a different language.


In this Publisher vs Scribus comparison, it’s a draw as both programs feature similar publication tools.

Image Editor 


When working with image frames on Scribus, you can edit images by adjusting their sizes, colors, rotation, cropping, etc. If there are multiple images, you can edit their levels & layers. However, the editing options are limited. Nevertheless, you can edit images with the external editor.

From the External Tools option, you can access the Image Processing Tool.  With this external image editing tool, you can edit your images by applying several effects. Available effects include blur, brightness, colorize, grayscale, contrast, invert, sharpen, and posterize.

After editing your images with the Image Processing Tool, click on update image to apply the adjustments.


You can do a lot of image editing in Publisher from the Picture Tools Lab. From the tools lab, you can adjust the brightness and contrast of images, change the color shades, recolor, and more.

You can also compress images; swap their positions, formats, etc. The Picture Tools Lab features 24 picture styles. With these picture styles, you can change how an image appears concerning its perspective.

Furthermore, you can add image borders, shadow effects, crop, change aspect ratio, and resize images. Images can be grouped as objects. Notably, you can add web alt text to images using Publisher.


Image editing is easier and more straightforward with Publisher than with Scribus.

Text Styles


The main text styling featured in Scribus is the Paragraph Effects. You can use Scribus to automatically format your paragraphs with different headlines.

To load the Style Manager, simply press F3. You can then start creating different paragraph styles by selecting the font style, font size, color, alignment, etc for each level.  Also, you can set line styles and character styles.

However, when a style level is applied, it is then applied to the entire text in the selected paragraph. Another way of styling text in Scribus is by using its Story Editor menu.


You can style text in MS Publisher using font schemes, typographic styles, and WordArt. With the font schemes, you don’t have to contemplate which fonts will work together. Compatible fonts have already been selected although you can still create a new font scheme.

The typographical styles are common in MS Office. These styles include heading 1, heading 2, title, subtitle, emphasis, strong, quote, book title, etc. Other typographical styles include swash, drop cap, ligatures, etc.

With WordArt, you are provided with a gallery of text styles. Simply select a style, type your text, and then apply. You can add more effects from the WordArt Tools Tab.


Publisher features more options for styling text than Scribus.

Color Management 


Basically, Scribus supports RGB, CMYK, and Spot Colors. You can manage all colors in your document from the Colors Dialog, while you can edit colors in CMYK or RGB models using the Color Editor.

A unique Scribus feature is the Color Editor that enables you to create your own color from scratch. After adjusting the CMYK or RGB tabs, give the color a new name and click on OK to save.

Furthermore, it’s possible to import colors from other documents. You can do this via the import feature in the Colors Dialog.


The most recent version of the Publisher software features more than 100 color schemes. As a user, you can quickly color your publication; simply select a color scheme and the document will be styled with matching colors.

Also, you can create new color schemes. A color scheme is made of 1 main color, 5 accent colors, 1 hyperlink color, and 1 followed hyperlink color. To create a new color scheme, select the individual colors for each part, give your scheme a name, and save.

Publisher supports 3 color models – RGB, CMYK, and HSL.


With over 100 built-in color schemes, there are more colors to work with in Publisher. 

Supported File Formats


Scribus supports several file formats. For input, the desktop publishing software supports PDF, EPS, SVG, TeX/LaTeX, HTML, Doc, AI, and more. Similarly, Scribus supports PDF, EPS, SVG, TeX/LaTex, HTML, XML, BMP, etc for output.

The supported input and output file formats vary for text, bitmap graphics, vector graphics, color, and palettes. Importing and exporting files in Scribus is simple. Both options are featured in the File option in the menu.

To import most files, you would need to have created at least one frame. With Scribus, you can directly import files from OpenOffice, Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign, and other similar platforms including Publisher.


You can import RTF, HTML, Doc, and Docx files in Publisher. Publisher doesn’t support input of PDF, EPS, or SVG files. You can only import such files after their conversion into supported file formats.

For output, the supported file formats include PDF, HTML, JPG, PNG, and TIFF. You can’t export files as SVG or EPS.

Publisher only features direct import for Word documents (doc and Docx). For HTML and RTF documents, you’ll have to use Open. You can export while saving by changing the file type from Pub to a format of your choice.


Scribus wins as it supports more file formats for input and output than Publisher.



Scribus is compatible with MS Windows, Mac OS (X), Linux, BSD, and Linux. It is also compatible with OS/2, ArcaOS, eComStation, Solaris, Haiku, OpenIndiana, Ubuntu, and Warp 4.

Additionally, Scribus will work with 32-bit and 64-bit editions of Windows 2000 up to Windows 10 versions. There’s also a portable Scribus version of 32-bit windows. For Mac OS (X), you’ll need version 10.8 x or higher. Likewise, Scribus supports FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD.

As free software, the files to download are hosted on external websites.


As software from Microsoft, Publisher is only available on Windows. As stated earlier, the software is part of the MS Office Suite with Word, Excel, Access, and Powerpoint. It can’t be downloaded alone.

Furthermore, you can only use Publisher on a PC. Microsoft has Office apps for different programs including Word, Excel, Outlook, etc., but there’s none for Publisher.

The PC requirements for installing MS Office will depend on what Office version you’re installing. Nevertheless, there’s a compatible Office version for every Windows version.


For this Scribus vs Publisher comparison category, the winner here is Scribus due to support for more devices.

Third-Party Integrations


Scribus integrates with some third-party platforms. Some of them include Drupal, UniConverter, and GraphicsMagick. Also, there are some formatting tools featured within the Scribus publication environment that are from third parties.

Meanwhile, Scribus facilitates file import from Adobe InDesign, MS Word, Open Office, Publisher, etc. Moreover, Scribus integrates with Windows Full Python Interpreter.

With the several inputs and output file formats supported, Scribus will work with even more platforms.


Publisher works seamlessly with other programs in the MS Office Suite – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access.

Generally, MS Office Suite integrates with several third-party platforms. Developers configure their platforms to integrate with the suite, so users can easily transition to using Office applications.

There are iPad, iPhone, Android tablets, Android Phone integrations, etc. Furthermore, Publisher integrates with other MS applications such as OneDrive, Skype, Visio, etc.


Being a part of the MS Office Suite gives Publisher an advantage in third-party integrations over Scribus.

Customer Support & Resources


Scribus doesn’t feature an easy means for customers to contact their support team. Besides, users are directed to contact the team via IRC. No phone or email support is offered.

However, the platform performs a lot better when it comes to resources. There is a Scribus Wiki that features useful information on using the software. The information in the Wiki is provided by both the Scribus team and users.

There is a helpful forum that serves as a community for Scribus users; anyone can participate.


Publisher features several rich resources that provide all the help you need. From the Microsoft Help & Training section, you can get help articles on getting started, creating, formatting, printing, and troubleshooting the Publisher software.

Aside from using the software, you can also get help on billing, supported devices, etc. You can also contact Microsoft support directly by submitting a contact form. Also, you can start a discussion in the Microsoft community and get help from other users.

Within the Publisher environment, you can get help from the help tab or by simply pressing F1.


Publisher is clearly the winner in this Scribus vs Publisher comparison category.



Scribus is a free desktop publishing software. 

You can download the software version for your operating system from the developer website without making any payment. Once downloaded, you are in total control of your data and whatever you do with Scribus.


To use Publisher, you need an active Office 365 pricing plan. There are different Office 365 plans for home and business use.

For Home

  • Personal Plan – $69.99 per year
  • Family Plan – $99.99 per year 

For Business

  • Basic Plan – $5.00 per user/month
  • Standard Plan – $12.50 per user/month 
  • Premium Plan – $20.00 per user/month
  • Apps Plan – $8.25 per user/month

Similarities & Differences


  • Both Scribus and Publisher are desktop publishing software programs.
  • With either Publisher or Scribus, you are provided with premade templates.
  • They both support image editing.
  • Both Publisher and Scribus feature built-in color schemes.


  • Scribus is free, while Publisher is premium. 
  • Publisher features more templates than Scribus.
  • Scribus has poor customer support, unlike Publisher.
  • Publisher is available on Windows only, while Scribus supports multiple operating systems.
  • Scribus supports SVG files, while Publisher doesn’t.

Scribus Pros

  • Free to use
  • Premade templates
  • Multi-layout patterns
  • Image processing tool
  • Multiple color schemes
  • Third-party integrations 

Scribus Cons 

  • Few templates
  • Poor customer support 

Publisher Pros 

  • Premade templates
  • Multi-layout patterns
  • Image editor
  • Reliable support
  • Over 100 color schemes
  • Integrations

Publisher Cons 

  • Expensive
  • Only on Windows 
  • No SVG support

Wrapping Up Scribus vs Publisher – Which Is Better?

Both Scribus and Publisher have some similar features; however, the best desktop publishing software among them is Publisher. 

Publisher is easier to use and manage. The interface is simple and there are lots of templates, color schemes, and styles, to use. In fact, you don’t have to create Office documents from scratch.

About Author

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.