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Working with Scalar for Digital Projects

This is a short introductory guide to using the Scalar publishing platform.

About Scalar

Scalar is a open source, web-based publishing software from the University of Southern California's Alliance for Networking Visual Culture that allows you to create networked, multi-media online publications.

Scalar's unique structure is based on a non-linear format that allows for flexible interactivity in the author's construction of each page. This research guide will show you how to begin building a Scalar "book' and how to best use its features to create an online platform for your project research.

Complete Scalar User Guide (Scalar 2):

What Version Should I Use?

Scalar offers both public installation and free installation on a local server. 

Public Install: The public install requires no web design skills or technical knowledge. As uploads are limited to 2M, projects requiring a great deal of storage, drawing heavily from digital collections, and seeking publication should consider a local install. But if you’re new to Scalar, working on a smaller project, or using Scalar for classroom instruction, we recommend the public install.

If you find you need more storage, you can always copy a previous book over from the Utilities tab.
To create an account through the public install (hosted by the University of Southern California),
1) Submit a request through the USC form at
2) Once you have a registration key, complete the registration form at
This site is maintained by the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture at the University of Southern California.
Local Install: Best for those who run an independent site on their own servers, a local installation offers more storage space and customization. Scalar makes its code freely available on GitHub and periodically releases updates.

Create a Scalar Account

To start a Scalar project you must first register for a free Scalar account: 

  • Start at the Scalar website.
  • Click on the blue Sign In button in the banner at the top of the page.
  • In the subsequent screen, click on Register an account and enter the details. To get the registration key, fill out a short form by clicking on the form link.
  • Registration keys are sent by email in a manual process. Please register in advance!
  • After you register, you will be taken to the Index page. This page contains a list of all of the published books in Scalar. When you have created a book, it will show up on the left hand side of the screen.