Here are five desktop publishing apps that give Windows users the power to exercise their creativity effectively.
Adobe Indesign is a great desktop publishing option for print media design because of its ability to handle text exceptionally well and projects that require multiple pages. Many print media design professionals utilize InDesign for creating multi-page projects such as brochures, newspapers, magazines, books, and catalogs. InDesign isn’t just for projects with multiple pages, however. Because InDesign is primarily a layout program, people have also used it to great effect to create large posters that feature text and images, one page flyers, and much more.
The first InDesign alternative is actually a free option that functions much like InDesign. Scribus is a desktop publishing software that is free because it’s Open Source. Open Source means that the source code of the software is made available to the public so that programmers can contribute to the application, ideally improving upon its features and functionality. Scribus has much of the same capabilities that InDesign offers, such as the ability to design large and multiple page layouts. It also works well with PDF creation.
The only downside to Scribus is that it cannot read or import InDesign files, so if you start out working on a project in InDesign, you wouldn’t be able to complete the project in Scribus later on. Of course, if you’re using InDesign and you’re happy with it, you probably won’t run into this type of problem. Scribus also tends to use large file sizes. Obviously, if Scribus has many of the same capabilities as InDesign, it’s a great option because it’s free. It might be just the type of program you want to start out on before eventually moving on to InDesign. However, you might discover that Scribus is just the print design layout program you want to stick with because it works so well.
QuarkXPress, or Quark as it’s commonly known, is an InDesign alternative that many print design professionals rely on. Quark works great for complex layouts. Quark allows users to create visually stunning content for print media as well as for tablets and web design. Many people who use Quark instead of InDesign believe that Quark is superior in its ability to design for the web. Quark offers precision typography and reliable printing options. Many print design professionals believe Quark to be a superior desktop publishing option to InDesign, but you’ll only be able to make that judgment after you’ve tried it out for yourself. Quark is a great InDesign alternative, but it is a more expensive piece of software.
A more entry-level InDesign alternative comes in the form of Serif PagePlus. PagePlus is a great desktop publishing option for those just getting started in print design. PagePlus has been used to great effect for editing PDFs and creating the layouts for eBooks in ePub and .Mobi formats for use with iPad, Kindle, and other e-reading devices. PagePlus has many of the same design capabilities of InDesign and at a fraction of InDesign’s purchase cost. In fact, Serif has a PagePlus starter edition that is available for free. PagePlus is a great option for your most basic print design and page layout projects. The only downside is that there isn’t a Mac version of PagePlus available, so if you’re a die-hard Apple user, you’ll have to go with one of the other InDesign alternatives.
Microsoft Office Publisher
Another entry-level desktop publishing application that many print design artists are probably familiar with is Microsoft’s Office Publisher. Publisher is a great option to start out with because it comes prepackaged with most new Microsoft computers. Unless you’re committed to working exclusively with Apple products, which many designers are, buying a new PC takes care of the need for a desktop publishing program. Publisher works well for your basic print media applications, such as brochures, labels, catalogs, and newsletters. It offers many text and picture effects, allowing you to make your layout designs stand out. If you’re just starting out in print media design, Publisher will do everything you need it to. However, you’re likely going to want to graduate to either InDesign or one of the InDesign alternatives that offers more print design functionality.
One InDesign alternative that offers more functionality than InDesign is also manufactured by Adobe. Adobe Framemaker is ideal for projects that are larger and more complex. Framemaker handles structured documents in a way that InDesign doesn’t. It also allows you to make changes to long documents quickly and easily. It also includes enhanced video support, among many other advanced features. Framemaker is the choice of many design professionals who want a step in functionality from InDesign.
InDesign gives you a lot of functionality when it comes to creating layouts for big projects, especially when those projects involve multiple pages. Many print design professionals believe that you can’t go wrong with using InDesign. However, being aware that there are some good InDesign alternatives gives you the freedom to know that just because many people use InDesign doesn’t mean that everybody uses InDesign.
For some of your multiple page projects, you might need an application that offers more capability than InDesign. For other projects, you might not need all of the features that InDesign offers. Of course, for some applications, you may feel that InDesign is just what you need. Check out InDesign and the InDesign alternatives you’ve discovered here and decide what is going to work best for you and what you’re working on.