From Dorico Pro 3.5 To Affinity Publisher Tips Needed

Hello dear colleagues, especially those of you who are an Engraving gurus,
I’m new to Affinity Publisher.
Here is my case:

  • I already finished the scoring and lyrics work in Dorico, for a musical theater…
    Now the author of text asked to add some more text, which will be spoken without music in the background. He would like to have the whole text and music in the very same document in order to
    present it to operas and musical theaters.
  • In order to preserve the Conductor Score (which already has 93 pages) untouched I’m thinking of using Affinity Publisher, where I could insert additional pages for the text (without background music).
  • The easiest way would be to export a “Normal” A4 PDF out of Dorico and to import it into Affinity Publisher, and then just to add pages where I need them. After that to export a Booklet A3 Landscape PDF for printing. The problem here is Affinity Publisher doesn’t create Master Page for imported PDF files.

What will be the best, and fastest, way to complete my task in Affinity Publisher?

Any help will be appreciated! Thank you very much in advance! :slight_smile:

By the way, after watching many tutorials on YouTube… It would be great if someone who has enough good experience with both Dorico and Affinity Publisher create tutorials.

Best wishes,

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I don’t quite understand what you mean by “Affinity Publisher doesn’t create Master Page for imported PDF files”. Do you mean that there are elements from the PDF that you want to add to Master pages in Publisher?

You can do that, but you’d need to import the PDF not as “Passthrough”, but as editable content. Then you can select headers, etc, and paste them into your Master pages. However, I’d then delete the PDF and re-import as Passthrough only.

You could just create some text pages in AP, save as PDF, then combine the PDFs together.

I’ve written an Automator workflow / “Quick Action” for creating A3 booklets from PDFs, if that helps. (if you’re on MacOS.)

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To echo Ben somewhat, you can create your own version of master pages within AP.

You can create as many as you like and then apply them to whatever pages you wish. Another thing is that you can apply master pages differently. You can use them to replace a page, or to add [merge] any missing elements to it, which is probably the way you’ll want to go.

You could make a standard page layout for each page you want to contain extra text, for instance, and then they would all come out the same. Don’t forget, too, that you can also use the text styles dialogues to create and apply standard font characteristics.

Also, if you’ll be adding pages that are not there in Dorico, I’d disable Dorico’s automatic page numbering, then create a master page in AP and add page numbers with the token [baked in to AP], and then merge that master page set (even if it only has page numbers down in the corners on it) starting after the title page.

AP should really be able to get you where you need to go.

FWIW, I take my scores out of Dorico into AP pretty much daily, and I rarely have any issues.

One thing I have noticed, though, is that sometimes AP wants to add extra spaces between words, so I have to double check my footers for some reason. But the music always renders correctly.

If you want absolutely nothing to be touched, then import as passthrough as @benwiggy says. You can still add elements on top of what is already there since AP uses a layering system just like photoshop.

Also, as a word to the wise: do not print directly from within AP. Export a PDF and print using another program. I’ve found that for some reason, it does not transmit the vector information from passed-through PDFS properly to printers (at least in my case) and so those portions of the page always come out fuzzy. Conversely, I can take an exported PDF and print it with acrobat and it prints razor sharp.

This isn’t the best example, but it was in the bin from yesterday, so here you go:

You can see how the left is very fuzzy; this was a print from AP, the right was the export which came out crystalline.

(I’d just hate for you to do all your edits in AP and then print a 100 page score only to discover something is amiss!)

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@benwiggy and @Romanos401 hello,
Thank you very much for the useful tips and help! :slight_smile:

Actually there things which I would like to appear automatically on all pages, like Page Numbers. I don’t want to do it manually page, by page.

Thank you very much colleagues, once again! :slight_smile:

Best wishes,

That is strange. I am sure you have thought of this - and I don’t have experience with Affinity Publisher (but do use Designer a lot). If I recall correctly, back when I was doing page layout in Adobe InDesign, there was an option to print a low rez proof to save time on printing (and toner I suppose). This would do something similar to what you are seeing - fuzzy images and sharp text that was set in InDesign. Is it possible AF Publisher has a similar setting somewhere?

Being a fairly new program, AP still has room for improvement, e.g. for the rastering process. Exporting to a high quality PDF and printing from a PDF app might give better results.

It does give better results. That was the whole point of my remark to the OP.

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Sorry I understood, the right print was out of Dorico :wink:

Oh I see. No—they are both from AP; one was directly printing from within AP and the other was after exporting from AP and printing with Adobe acrobat (the clear version).

I have noticed a dotted, bumpy, pixelated appearance to what should be solid black text and graphics, if ColorSync is doing the colour management.


It basically halftones 100% K, possibly as a result of some sort of colour space conversion.

It’s possible that Affinity has this as a defautl.

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I’m not sure which of these options would apply.

I have the best luck by just making everything B&W, full stop. I rarely need color or transparency in my scores, so this yields the best result for me.

I’ve just started working on a songbook in Affinity Publisher 1.10.1 (mac OS 11.5).

I’ll be importing multiple PDFs (exported from Dorico as monochrome), adding page numbers and front matter (as black-and-white text) and exporting a PDF to send to a commercial printer. It will contain no color (except for the cover - a separate file). My understanding is that print shops require PDFs in the CMYK colorspace.

I have no prior experience working with a print shop or DTP software.

I realize that I need to make sure the PDF exported from Publisher uses pure black (100% K), not rich (4-color) black. I know how to make the text added in Publisher pure black, but I’m not sure about the music PDFs.

Have any of you done this kind of thing before, and if so, can you explain the process?

On the Affinity forum, someone suggested I import the PDFs via “Add pages from file”, then do “select all”, and set the color to 100% K in the Color sidebar.

The one or two times I tried importing files this way, I think Publisher messed with some of the objects on the page. So I’d rather not use this method if I can avoid it.

I’d rather use PDF Passthrough if possible. It feels much safer!

But I don’t know whether Affinity truly leaves the music PDFs untouched upon export and, if it does, whether a print shop will accept Dorico’s grayscale output.

Thoughts, anyone?

If you assign the b&w color profile in affinity publisher, it doesn’t matter how it is imported, but what is exported should be b&w. Also, If you export from dorico in monochrome, even using pass-through, everything will be b&w then.

Edit: this is what I mean:

(Notice there are “assign” & “convert” buttons if you need to change it after the fact.)

My understanding is that commercial print shops require PDFs to be in the CMYK color space (updated my previous post to include this).

So setting a B&W color space in Affinity isn’t an option.

Since my previous post, one of my piano students, a professional book designer, checked a PDF for me in Acrobat Pro. (I don’t have Acrobat Pro, and haven’t found a less-expensive or non-subscription alternative.)

This PDF was a page from Publisher containing a Dorico PDF in Passthrough mode. I exported it from Publisher using the “Press Ready” preset.

It separated as black only, which is what I want. So it appears that Passthrough mode is the way to go.

BTW, I also found (via the Affinity forums) an online separation checker here

I have no idea how reliable it is, but it too said the Dorico PDF passed through Affinity was 100% K.

Only if your documents use colour. If they are just Black & White, then Mono/greyscale is fine. There is a risk that Black in a CMYK workflow will get ‘split’ across the 4 inks, reducing the % value of the Black. In a single-colour process, this can lead to a printed image that is actually grey.


That is my understanding as well. Large professional printers may operate in the CMYK color space, but they often also have a fifth pure black drum.

Hmm. They’d normally just run mono jobs on a single-unit press.

In my experience, a 5th plate is only used for things like switching languages in a print run of illustrated books.

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I imagine you’re right. All I know is that we’ve had large rental printers in our office and even the ones that do color have a separate pure k drum which needs replacing much more than the CYMK drums.

I thought, that the K in CMYK stands for black (key) …