Desktop Publishing Software Buying Guide

By Matt D'Angelo, Contributing Writer
| Updated
Dec 13, 2018

Desktop Publishing Software Buying Guide

Whether for drafting company brochures or printing new business cards, publishing software is an essential tool for many business owners. There's a lot to consider when deciding which program to purchase. For some businesses, page layout software that's focused more on enterprise-level operation and pairing with third-party companies, like printing services, can be the best option. For smaller, at-home projects that need a professional appearance but don't demand control over the publishing intricacies that page layout software provides, desktop publishing software may be a better choice.

Regardless of which is best for your business, it's crucial to consider what features your company needs. While most software includes tools for managing text and building professional documents, individual features vary greatly.

Why Buy Desktop Publishing Software?

Publishing software allows your business to produce professional-grade documents at a fraction of the cost of commercial printing. Restaurants that need to print menus, businesses looking to produce an e-book, and a writer looking to self-publish a novel can all benefit from either desktop publishing or page layout software.

Publishing content in a professional manner establishes a good face for your business. A publishing system that is flexible and has a lot of features allows you to adjust your print materials to fit your business, regardless of how its style or feel changes over time. Most software comes with the ability to edit and filter images, create elegant text styles, or layer elements to create visual effects. With the proper support systems, workers can learn how to effectively and efficiently create documents and edit content.

Besides presenting your company in a professional manner, publishing software can serve as a more efficient way to create content. Every business owner has used a word processor like Microsoft Word, but those same projects may be better off in publishing software like InDesign. A typical example is flyers. It's easy to hop on a word processor and create a flyer for your business. But with publishing software, you can use more features and create a better, attention-grabbing flyer for your business.

Features to Look For

There are a few important features to look for when considering publishing software. Besides the different sharing and publishing options, publishing software should come with a full selection of tools for design and page layout.

  • Layout tools – Make sure you find a program that is user-friendly and fits your skills as a designer. Some programs have a steep learning curve, so it's important to find one with layout and organization tools that are easy to pick up. For more experienced designers, the ability to do things like group objects and arrange layers can be a crucial aspect of a program. Also, you should be able to quickly reconfigure paragraphs and toggle the snap-to-grid alignment.
  • Design tools – Just about all of these programs should have tools to adjust graphics, add filters to photos or edit images. The best programs, however, allow you to go even further by designing things like smartphone apps, e-books and QR codes.
  • Text options – You should be able to do things like create drop caps, type text along a customized path and treat letters as individual shapes. Some programs even allow you to create visual effects. While text options are important, they take a back seat to layout and graphic tools for these programs.


Common Desktop Publishing Software Questions & Answers

Have a desktop publishing software question of your own?

InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop are the defacto standards for desktop publishing. But having the software and learning to use it doesn't make a professional desktop publisher, designer or photographer. You have to know some of the principles of what makes a good page, and how to incorporate copy and graphics effectively. Having an inherent sense of what a balanced, visually appealing page is, is important. InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop are great tools. But they're just that —...

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