Getting started

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As of now, copyediting and layout are two separate processes following the acceptance of a paper. Our aim is to let these steps converge in order to save time preparing the publication while maintaining our professional quality standards. This guide shows you how to proceed once you've finished copyediting a paper.

The toolbox

We use an open-source and free software called Scribus to layout articles:

  • This wiki is based on Scribus version 1.5.5 for Windows. Please make sure to download this version, since certain features outlined in this handbook do not work with newer versions. You can download it here.
  • Mac users: The latest stable version for macOS that visually resembles all the screenshots used in this Wiki is version 1.5.0, which can be downloaded here.

Download the file fnp_Windows_1.5.5.sla. This is the FNP layout template. Just save it at any location on your computer. Mac users: Download and unpack the template here.

Getting to know Scribus


Scribus is a desktop publishing software. The main difference to so-called text processors like Microsoft Word is that you start with a blank page, i.e. without any predefined structure, such as text lines. This allows the user to design a page layout with (almost) no restrictions. The most important element in the layout process is the text frame. A text frame is a text container that is defined by a specific shape, size, position (X and Y coordinates), and paragraph style. Additionally, characters and words within a text frame can be formatted (character style).

Install Scribus on your computer and open the file fnp_Windows_1.5.5.sla. You'll see that we have prepared the basic design of a typical FNP paper. Your job as a layouter is to fill this design structure with content.

One important principle to keep in mind: Please refrain from altering the pre-defined character and paragraph styles in the template as these guarantee the basic consistency (object distances, positions, font specifications etc.) we'd like to see across FNP papers.

However, first you should make a number of windows and interfaces visible. These will be your tools for making sure everything will be at the right place.

Important tools

You find the following tools using the main menu at the top of the window:

Navigation and overview

  • WindowsOutline: This window gives you an overview of the document's pages and the element each page contains. This will come in handy for navigation while working on the document.
  • Navigating the document: Move the document around while clicking and holding the mouse wheel like a button.
  • Also, if you keep CTRL pressed while using the mouse wheel you can zoom in and out of the document depending on your preferences.
  • ViewDocumentShow Frames: This makes the borders of all elements in the document visible. This may help you to get a better overview of the document's structure, including intended or unintended spaces between elements.

Properties window


WindowsProperties: When you click an element in the document (e.g. a text frame or an image) this window shows you a variety of options to modify its appearance. You find the most important options in the panel X, Y, Z: It contains the precise X- and Y-coordinates of a selected element which can be defined relative to one of the element's corners or its center. You can choose this basepoint using the graphic below.

This window also lets you change the selected element's size, which will then expand or reduce its size relative to the chosen basepoint.

Text Properties


WindowsText Properties: This window lets you choose the style of a chosen paragraph and other formatting specifications.

This is also the place where you can apply character styles to specific portions of a text frame (e.g., bolding and italicizing).

You can find more on styling text later in this guide.

Align and Distribute


WindowsAlign and Distribute: The second subpanel in this window (Distribute) will help you to make sure that the paper's overall structure will have a professional and consistent appearance. When selecting two elements at the same time (e.g. two text frames) you can define a specific distance between them (e.g. 12 pt) and apply this distancing clicking one of the buttons. The button you will have to use is the one at the bottom on the right (Make vertical gaps between items equal to the value specified).

Story Editor


Right-clicking a text frame and selecting Edit Text with Story Editor shows the text frame's content in plain text without any of its stylistic properties in a separate window. This editor can also be opened by pressing CTRL+T after selecting a text frame.

Sometimes you might lose track of where a word you have edited is located in the page's layout, so this is useful for pasting text and applying styles to text passages.

On the left-hand side you see the paragraph style applied to each paragraph. Click these to change a style. Pressing CTRL+U applies the changes you have made in the Story Editor in real-time to the layout (which is useful when working with two computer displays). CTRL+W applies the changes and closes the window.

Preview Mode


In the top menu on the very right there is an eye-shaped button. You can toggle this to see what the end result of the document without all the frame borders and arrows will look like.

Next steps

Now that you have set up Scribus and opened the template file fnp_Windows_1.5.5.sla you are ready to get working on the first page.

The basic steps to bring a copyedited paper into the final format are:

  1. Creating the paper's first page
  2. Inserting and styling the text
  3. Inserting figures
  4. Final touches