About.com Readers' Choice Winners and Finalists
- Serif PagePlus Starter Edition (2011 Winner)
- GIMP (2010 Winner)
- Apache OpenOffice Productivity Suite
About.com Desktop Publishing Guide ChoiceI have two recommendations: Serif PagePlus Starter Edition and Scribus. Here's why:
- If you are a Mac user, Serif is out. Scribus becomes your best bet if you want to do real desktop publishing for free. Inkscape would be my second choice for Mac folks.
- I recommend Scribus (for any platform) if you want the professional level features of InDesign or QuarkXPress without the price tag. However, with those high-end features comes a steeper learning curve than you'll find with PagePlus or with other free software. It may be overkill if you don't have the time to invest in learning to use the software.
- While Serif PagePlus (the not-free-version) is professional level software, the free Starter Edition is limited if you need to create documents for commercial printing (no PDF export or CMYK support, for example). However, for ease-of-use and especially ease-of-learning it beats all the others. For small or home-based business owners printing their own business cards and for general creative printing it is my recommendation. Another bonus: if you find you need a little more power or need the pro features it's easy to upgrade to the full PagePlus package and you'll already know how to use the software.
See what else I like about Serif PagePlus Starter Edition
- Why not GIMP or Inkscape or OpenOffice.org? All three are excellent. However, technically speaking they are not page layout tools. They are primarily for bitmap graphics, vector graphics, and word processing (respectively). If they were the only options, I'd recommend Inkscape as being the most versatile for basic page layout (such as business cards and greeting cards).
That said, all of these programs are FREE. Why not download all of them and take 'em for a spin. Create a logo in Inkscape. Edit your digital photos in GIMP. Use OpenOffice.org to write business letters and put together presentations. Use Serif PagePlus SE for designing and printing documents to your desktop printer. Use Scribus for books, long newsletters, and anything that needs to be commercially printed.