Publishing software

I am a new user, currently moving my data out of MS Office and elsewhere into Gramps 5.1.2. I plan to periodically produce a Family Records newsletter and print and email it for my extended family. I’m looking at a few software packages, MS Publisher, Adobe In Design, and Print Artist. I envision the document containing an assortment of family tree graphics, photos, and a lot of text for biographical info. Are there any recommendations for inexpensive, easy to use, no frills publishing software that might be suitable?

Check out the Books report as a starting point.

It allows the grouping of various reports that each can be configured with their own options and filters. It can be printed out in a PDF or to OpenDocument text (as two options) which then would allow additional alterations and tweaks. The Book allows for unified table of contents and indexing.

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Here’s a related question:
What method do you use to store Family Newsletters in Gramps?

Is it a Repository, Source, Citation, Media or Note?

I tend to create periodicals as Sources with the individual issues as citations having Transcriptions as Notes. (I choose to NEVER use the Media feature of Gramps because: 1. a Document Management tool works better; 2. It makes sharing the Tree into a royal pain)

(I acknowledge that Family Newsletters are generally bad Sources… but they are good leads. They are typically only superficially proofread, rarely include sources and often have typos & misinformation.)

You should look at Scribus for desktop publishing (free Open Source), or Affinity Publisher (cost 30-40 USD)…
this is same DTP software as MS Publisher, except that most people say they are way better…

Or if you would like a really good writers tool, you should take a look at Scrivener (approx 30-40 dollar), or the free writers tools like yWriter and Ostorybook.

You can also use notebook software like Mindforger, Zettlr, Trilium or Joplin (all are Markdown (MD) notebooks and open source and free, Joplin also have a mobile version that can sync with the desktop software.
Zettlr support Better BibTex from Zotero, so you can make citations in Zettlr and store sources in Zotero… (Zotero are a really great Open source free Bibliographic tool that can be used to store and organize all you sources…
JabRef are a good alternative, also open source and free…

For even more control on the result, you should go for LaTex, i.e. Tex Studio.

Most all of this software can open most of the reports from Gramps, including svg files… so that you can edit what you need to change or add text where needed… Except the notebooks, they can not edit pdf’s

Scribus -
Affinity Publisher -
Scrivener -
Ywriter -
oStoryBook -
Zettlr - (or on github)
Trilium -
Joplin -
Mindforger -
Zotero - (or on github)
JabRef - (or on github)


I second the suggestion of Scribus. I used it for a few years to publish a caving newsletter. The learning curve is a bit steep, and you can spend HOURS just fiddling with moving things around by one pixel. Perfect is the enemy of Good Enough!

You can see some of the issues I created at The most recent five or six issues were done with Scribus.

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Thanks for all the replies. I’ll look at the Books Report and Scribus and maybe Scrivener. Your Newsletters had the look and feel I want to get to without a lot of bells and whistles.

You should also look at inkscape if you would like to do some extra edit on SVG graphic files… its also open source and free (just in case you didn’t know about it already)

I would add the document as source, where you store the document (your DAM database) as one repository, and if your newletter contain references to other sources, i would add where you can find those sources as repositories as well to that newsletter, and make a note for each source in the repository reference…
Then, i would add source citation to the newsletter for any event and link people to those events…
I try to avoid any direct citation between people/families and documents…

And since i use Zotero, my sources and citation are all just APA 6 formated citations and bibliography with a hyprerlink to th document in Zotero ( Also APA formated reference string).
That way all my references, citations and bibliography (sources) will have the same formating regardless of where i use it… I can copy or drag and drop those from zotero to almost any text field, regardless of the program… Gramps, Scribus, scrivener, freeplane, timeline, or any word or text editor, or even a text layer in a graphic editor, they all will have the same formated source citation or bibliography…


The Books feature is one of the places where the wiki has a “can’t see the forest for the trees” problem. The strategic usefulness of the feature is lost in interface descriptive detail.

Wading through the complexity in the documentation to discover ‘’‘when it is useful’’’ is actually an impediment to using the feature. It needs an inviting introductory paragraph or two on ‘Books’ strategic use.

I’m pretty good at adding detail but not on writing stuff like that. My writing style tends to come across as too pompous.


The Books report is just an aggregator of other reports. The only things really unique is the ability to unify the various reports with common table of contents and index pages. It has the ability to bring together the same reports each with their own filters. All of the reports are the same ones run as standalone reports that we use everyday. The other unique options is a Title page and purely text pages that can be used between other reports for contextual information.

Sending the output to an OpenDocument text allows the results to be opened in other programs while preserving all the indexing to make it “Pretty”.

The other benefit is using it for single (or more) reports where specific report settings can be remembered. The normal singleton reports remember the “last used” settings. Putting the report within the Books report you can have it remember the setting used for the various versions of the the same report.

The only other relevant information is that it does not handle Graph reports. It does handle Graphical reports (as well as the text reports). The idea behind the concept of the Books report is that all the pages of the book would be the same common size.

Do not know if this helps explain it or gives you ideas to expand the wiki pages.

Your description of Books helps. It can be leveraged as an excellent start on the introduction.

But it goes beyond that, right? Adjusting a common page size & margin without having to sychronize all the reports manually sounds like a HUGE time saver … even for a one-off book. But nearly every posting I’ve seen dwells on re-using & recycling a Book in other projects.

Sometimes they talk about re-generating a new edition with updated info. Other people ask about using the same collection of reports for consistent look covering a different Person, a different Tree, or even sharing the Books style for other Gramps users.

(Please note that I haven’t used reports in Production. Merely toodled around enough to fill in some gaps in the wiki. So I have NO strategic feel for any reporting or graphing feature. )

Yes, there is only the one Page setup so all pages have the same size, margins… etc.

Once a Book is set up with its various reports and pages, ALL the settings of the various components are saved with the book’s settings. Once a Book has been saved, it can be saved again with a new name and with a few tweaks of things like which filters the various internal reports use, you can get a new book that has the same overall look and configuration of the original.

To see how Gramps is handling the Books options versus the singleton reports, look at how Gramps stores the information.

The singleton reports save the “last used” options in your user directory in report_options.xml. Each report is a top level entry.

Books are saved in books.xml. Under each Book name… are all the components of the book and each of their settings. This is probably it most powerful feature.

The problem with Books is that information in a book format is not that practical today. And also only practical for small limited trees (or parts of trees). I have 200K plus people. Very impractical to put into a book form. I send my cousins their personalized NarrWeb. Clickable and all information is available. The regular reports do not allow viewing images attached to sources or events. The NarrWeb does.

That is not to say creating a book does not serve a purpose. For that particular aunt, it can be ideal.


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