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8 Best Desktop Publishing Software Programs in 2019-2020

Once solely professional domain, Desktop Publishing is now used in many various industries like localization and translation, marketing and ads, healthcare, etc. Recently, many user-friendly DTP software programs have become available open-source and (almost) for free. We’ve decided to make the fullest list of top desktop publishing apps - from simple to the most advanced.

Some companies need Desktop Publishing services for creating compelling ads, business cards, eye-catching billboards, etc. In linguistics, desktop publishing helps adjust documents and media files to a certain language structure and requirements.

1. Adobe InDesign

Operating systems:

  • Windows, macOS

Features:

  • Support of digital files in many formats
  • Collaboration
  • Automatic resize
  • Access to Adobe Creative Cloud

Advantages:

  • Multilingual support
  • Advanced Opentype fonts and incorporation of TypeKit (access to over 500 fonts)
  • Transparency effects management
  • Tutorials and guides

Disadvantages:

  • Confusing and complicated for beginners
  • Hefty price tag
  • Unavailable for Linux

Adobe InDesign is a top-notch desktop publishing application introduced by Adobe Systems in 1999. A spiritual successor of defunct Aldus PageMaker, it is the choice of most DTP professionals both for traditional print media and interactive digital media.

InDesign is known for its practically unrivaled features for creating professional publications as well as interactive documents and multimedia proposals, adding audio and video elements, etc. The program provides a rich page design and layout toolset. Users can edit and convert various formats, including EPUB, SWF, XML, PSD, Word, and PDF.

Consider also: Adobe FrameMaker

Bought by Adobe in the ‘90s, Adobe FrameMaker is a convenient document processor designed for working with complex structured documents. The program is available for Windows only. Eventually, FrameMaker is foremost meant for XML file support. Among all Adobe desktop publishing programs, it is particularly useful for technical documentation and academic clients.

2. Serif PagePlus

Operating systems:

  • Windows

Features:

  • Pop-up tips tool, How-To guides and tutorial videos
  • Pre-existing templates arranged by document type or style suites
  • Master Pages support
  • Vector drawing tools
  • Photo adjustment options
  • Built-in word processor
  • CMYK colors
  • OpenType feature support
  • Optical margin alignment
  • Intelligent QuickShapes

Advantages:

  • Free of charge version available
  • Intuitive for entry-level specialists
  • Tutorials and guides

Disadvantages:

  • Unavailable for non-Windows users
  • Last updated in 2016
  • Free version is feature-limited

PagePlus desktop publishing software was first launched in 1990. It represents a graduated learning curve yet can be followed up quickly. The program is best for home or classroom usage as well as for small business needs. The final release is the PagePlus X9 version (November 2016). Despite its long pedigree of almost 30 years, the interface looks remarkably fresh-faced with every feature easily accessible.

Targeted for entry-level DTP users, the program provides an intuitive drag-and-drop design method. Various panels are sensibly laid and labeled, however, it might feel overburdened with features. Still, key elements are quick to locate. Besides, there is a dedicated help interface right alongside the work area.

The free starter edition is sufficient for basic needs. The professional version is still available for purchase as a part of the Legacy product range. The latter provides total freedom and control over documents.

Consider also: Affinity Publisher

Serif’s latest product, Affinity Publisher has been released in summer 2018. A successor of PagePlus, two DTP programs bear a striking similarity in many aspects of user interface despite the name change. The company decided to rewrite their DTP software to provide multiplatform implementation and new methods for internal software operations with modern OSs.

DTP software features were incrementally enhanced for professional users (e.g. better color profile management). Responsiveness and on-the-fly changes are felt throughout. Significant differences lie in the location of commands in the pull-down menu.

One of the most controversial aspects of rebranding is the inability of Affinity users to read PagePlus and InDesign file formats. Nevertheless, it is an affordable and fully-featured application that brings many useful tools to the table.

3. QuarkXpress

Operating systems:

  • Windows, macOS

Features:

  • InDesign files import
  • PDF files edit
  • Web pages creation (files may contain rollovers, hyperlinks, forms)
  • Android app creation
  • Impressive OpenType controls
  • Support of color fonts (SVG, SBIX, COLR)

Advantages:

  • Multilingual (37 languages)
  • Easy to use for beginners
  • Easy to integrate with other systems
  • Layout automation
  • Precise functionality

Disadvantages:

  • Price
  • Unavailable for Linux users

Released in 1987, Quark has long been the major market player (especially during the 90s). The number one choice for LSP industry, it is a great choice for translators who work on multiple projects at a time. Besides, the application is also used by designers, large publishing houses and corporates for creating all kinds of files: from single-page flyers to multi-media projects for magazines, newspapers, catalogs, etc. Moreover, Quark also supports eBooks, webpages and mobile apps creation.

Nowadays the program is one of the best and most popular alternatives to InDesign. A large amount of features Quark offers is not even comparable to InDesign with the former winning over. This layout and prepress program helps produce dynamic final output using an impressive toolset.

4. Microsoft Publisher

Operating systems:

  • Windows, macOS

Features:

  • Drag-and-drop image import
  • Support of color fonts (SVG, SBIX, COLR)

Advantages:

  • Easy to navigate through for beginners
  • Decent price
  • Custom guidelines
  • Compatible with other Microsoft Office apps

Disadvantages:

  • Limited graphics and design tools
  • Limited choice of templates
  • Incompatible with Adobe programs
  • Limited fonts and features selection
  • Unavailable for Linux users

Brought to the market in the early ’90s by Microsoft Corporation, Microsoft Publisher is a king of all publishing apps for Windows. The program has gained plenty of useful features over the years. It is focused on small business professionals where firms do not have dedicated designers for creating marketing materials.

Nowadays, it allows creating professional-looking publications with the use of photos and text blocks. The program is highly capable and provides a rich selection of already existing templates and typography tools while users can choose to start with a blank sheet. It is considered one of the most common DTP systems used by both beginners and professionals.

Microsoft Publisher usually goes as a part of Microsoft Office packages. The latest versions adopted a more touch-friendly UI. Eventually, its interface would be familiar to anyone who has used other Office apps.

5. Lucidpress

Operating systems:

  • Windows, macOS, Ubuntu

Features:

  • Cloud-based
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Online, print and desktop publishing
  • Templates library
  • G-Suite integration
  • Inserting audio, video files and hyperlinks

Advantages:

  • Multilingual support
  • Multiplatform support
  • Affordable
  • Simple to use for entry-level specialists
  • Over 250 templates

Disadvantages:

  • Limited fonts and graphics selection
  • Limited selection of free templates
  • Lack of more advanced editing features

Recently released (2013) Lucidpress is an online DTP program that provides simple in use and affordable solution for creating ads and publishing content. Its fully functional and intuitive interface allows developing professional-quality graphics effects, managing various formats, text styles, images, etc.

With a drag-and-drop menu mechanism and password-protected content, Lucidpress is a worthful alternative to Microsoft Publisher. The program helps create multimedia files useful in business and educational environments. Besides, the system is convenient for creating eBooks and accepts files in various formats: PDF, MOBI, HTML.

6. Scribus

Operating systems:

  • Windows, macOS, Ubuntu/Unix, OS/2 Warp 4/eComStation

Features:

  • ICC print color management (including Pantone colors) to minimize the difference between screen and a printed version
  • Vector images and drawing tools
  • Layers and master pages (recurring headings, borders, page numbers)
  • Render markup languages such as LaTeX
  • Pre-existing template options

Advantages:

  • Multilingual support
  • Multiplatform support
  • Free of charge
  • Easy to use even for beginners
  • File compatibility (most file formats are supported both for import and export, including Illustrator, PDF, EPS graphic files with help of Ghostscript)
  • Functionality can be extended with custom scripts at Python language
  • A good alternative to more expensive and elaborate DTP programs

Disadvantages:

  • Incomplete documentation due to its open-source nature
  • Help resources might seem scattered
  • Many graphic inaccuracies in the online design interface
  • Functionality is rather limited and strict

Famous for its open-source freeware nature, Scribus is a powerful multi-platform desktop publishing and page layout solution. Developed back in 2003, it was initially based on Qt library. The interface might seem fairly dated, bare-bone looking and even a little clunky. Yet initial doubts fade away rapidly as Scribus has a reliable and workable functionality.

Actually, it mimics the InDesign layout offering up all the essential features. Scribus appears suitable for producing commercial-level publications, from brochures to business cards. However, proficient users might lack some of the more advanced functions as the application is not as polished and high-powered as other top-tier programs.

Scribus aim is to make desktop publishing accessible for everyone without limiting professional functions for printing. It is available in a wide variety of languages and free for non-commercial use. With a Pro Upgrade users get extra functions like high-resolution printing and microperforated paper.

The market of DTP software is vast and offers options for various budgets, objectives, and background. Still, it is sometimes challenging and time-consuming to understand and choose the best option. Our professionally trained DTP specialists have decades of industry experience and all the necessary expertise in the above-mentioned programs. They would be glad to assist your linguistic projects by providing high-class desktop publishing services. You may find more details at our specially dedicated page or simply by contacting us.

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