The layout person imports text and images into the template using the page layout software. The page layout program should be able to:
- handle template pages (with headers and footer, including automatic page number generation)
- handle margins and columns
- handle grids (grid lines, align to grid functionality etc) for easy positioning
- allow for WYSIWYG editing including zoom in and out
- import text and images and place them in frames
- link text frames and allow text to flow between them
- be able to manipulate frames: move, rotate, align etc
- be able to arrange objects and move them along the z-axis (depth)
- employ basic graphic tools for creation of lines and boxes
- handle paragraph styles and preferably also character styles
- adjust the typographic content of text-frames: font style, size, kerning, text-wrapping, leading, hyphenation, justification, lists (numbered and bullet)
- generate table of contents and indexes
- run a preflight verifier (check that the document is ready for printing)
- handle color separation and ICC-profiles (see Step 0: Color management)
- create a print-ready PDF
There is only one option for professional level page layout using free tools: Scribus.
Scribus is an application for WYSIWYG page layout with color managment and PDF export. It has one major problem: it can't handle long documents (ie many linked text frames). The solution is to split the project into many smaller documents and then concatenate the resulting PDF files before sending them to the print shop.
Scribus. The only option.
The file format is not that important since this is the final stop before printing – the page layout program should be able to export to PDF. A human readable file format is preferable as it can be modified more easily and also allows for other programs to more easily manipulate the document.