Software

Five Apps for better desktop publishing

Desktop publishing plays a huge role in crafting catchy advertisements, business cards, banners, billboards and more.

In the world of savvy business, we need a way to advertise our wares and services in an eye-catching and thought-provoking manner. Take a business like a restaurant or an antique shop and the owner might want to design a poster or flyer for the newspaper or local circular, but without the right tools, nobody will get far.

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Desktop publishing plays a huge role in crafting catchy advertisements, business cards, banners, billboards and more, going beyond the capabilities of the more plain text-centric word processor. Here are five desktop publishing apps that give Windows users the power to exercise their creativity effectively.

Five Apps

1. Microsoft Publisher

This is the king of publishing apps for the Windows platform. Brought to market by Microsoft starting in the early 90s, Publisher gained plenty of features over the years and has become a staple of the desktop publishing user base. Publisher is bundled with the latest Office 2013 product and has adopted a more touch-friendly UI for Windows 8. Unlike the competition however, .pub files are proprietary and don't play nicely with other third-party publishing software suites.

2. Adobe InDesign CS6

InDesign is the spiritual successor to the defunct Aldus PageMaker and it brings a nice interface for working in projects. There is also some fantastic documentation and tutorials on the web that can bring even complete newbies up to speed with the full power of the tool. If you are already a serious user of other Adobe products, the deep integration of InDesign with the rest of the suite makes sharing work between tools a snap. InDesign CS6 is sold as part of an Adobe package with the least expensive package in terms of initial cost being the $49.99/month subscription.

3. Scribus

For those in the market for a freeware product that can get the job done satisfactorily, Scribus is an open-source desktop publishing solution that is fairly bare-bones looking. It does allow for imports of Illustrator files, PDF documents, and even EPS graphic files with the help of Ghostscript. The layout can be a bit clunky at first to use, but it's certainly workable and the addition of multi-platform support makes working in Scribus projects a fairly painless affair. If you know your way around the Python language, Scribus' functionality can even be extended with custom scripts.

4. Serif PagePlus

If you are looking for software that has a gradual learning curve and can be picked up fairly quickly, Serif PagePlus is an excellent candidate. Every feature is easily accessible, with a dedicated help interface right alongside the work area for quick reference. The free starter edition is sufficient enough for basic needs, while Serif offers a tantalizing $59.99 upgrade offer for their professional edition, filled with extra goodies like eBook exporting, additional templates, and HTML format handling.

5. LibreOffice Draw

Conceived as a spin-off of the popular OpenOffice.org office suite, LibreOffice builds upon its predecessor's core and then some, with improved file handling of Microsoft Office formats and increased speed. Draw is no exception to this, with its clean-cut no frills UI. LibreOffice 4.0 has even introduced the capability of Microsoft Publisher document imports, though depending on the content that is converted over, true fidelity to the original document is not guaranteed.

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An avid technology writer and an IT guru, Matthew is here to help bring the best in software, hardware and the web to the collective consciousness of TechRepublic's readership. In addition to writing for TechRepublic, Matthew currently works as a Cus...

3 comments
lucho_con_cerveza
lucho_con_cerveza

Madcap's Flare deserves inclusion. From Framemaker ex-pats, a good tool; a good suite of tools.

TNT
TNT

I can say that professional page layout really requires InDesign, or FrameMaker (for large, well-structured documents). Publisher has come a long way over the years and while it has the ability to define color models and perform color separations, few print shops support it for anything other than output to a digital copier. Scribus and Serif Page Plus are best suited for inside communications, maybe a HOA newsletter or flyers, but don't expect support of its file formats from print companies. And Libre Office Draw is not a desktop publishing program, but rather a page layout program. It cannot do documents of any length. It is useful for flyers, and that's about it. Just adding a little professional perspective on these tools in case anyone reading the article is serious about publishing.

Matt Nawrocki
Matt Nawrocki

Your points are informative and brought some needed perspective into the mix. I didn't really think LibreOffice Draw could be as limited as you mentioned, but I'm glad you did.

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