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Readers Respond: Easy to Use Software for Desktop Publishing

Responses: 19


From the article: Design Software
What makes software easy to use or user friendly? Do templates and wizards make software easier to use? Can professional desktop publishing software be user-friendly or is that only something you find in software aimed at beginners or non-designers? Use this form to define what user-friendly desktop publishing software means to you or to answer the question of what is the most user-friendly software for desktop publishing. Name names and explain your thoughts. Help other users -- both professional designers and non-designers -- find the most user-friendly software for there needs.

InDesign VS Less Montrous Software?

I just completed our annual 330 p. book complete with PDFs, tables, text, links and pix using InDesign CS5. I am the only user in my organization that knows how to use it--job security for me, but uncomfortable for my boss. The learning curve is extensive and time consuming in every aspect, from creation to printing. We do printing in-house on a color printer. Final document size bogs everything. My task is to find and test a new software that is more user friendly and one that has less learning curve so that others in our organization can help with next year's book. We are on Windows 2010. Ideally, I want to be able to easily transfer/import the information from this year's book done in InDesign to next year's book so I don't have to start over. I'm trying to stay away from QuarkXpress and Pagemaker because they also have long learning curves. Does anybody have any other suggestions on what software I can check out?
—Guest Gleem

Easy to use software for desktop publish

The easiest to use is whatever you learned first. : ) I have InDesign CS3 and would use it if I were sending stuff out for print, but for all my in-house items I still use Pagemaker because it's what I learned in Commercial Art. In a previous job I had to pre-press a newsletter done in Publisher and found it frustrating to have to straighten out overlapping text boxes and find fonts to substitute for those not forwarded with the files. So, I never thought of Publisher as 'user friendly'. : )

Updating software

I started on my Mac Plus with Publish it easy. I upgraded to Pagemaker 4 because of the features required in my church publications. I upgraded to PM6.5 for the extra features. I then worked for a customer who insisted on PC compatiblity, so I entered the XP world with Pagemaker 7. When I had to interface with another customer, I went to ID3. When I needed better graphics handling than Photoshop 7 provided, I bit the bullet and enrolled into the local community college to qualify for the CS4 Premium Suite student rates. I am now learning how to use all of them. I made the transitions only when the old no longer met the requirements. I don't upgrade just for the sake of it. I still use PM7 for a lot of easy tasks. My Mac cube sits there lonely and winks at me all day, wondering when I will play with it again.
—Guest ROB520

Microsoft Publisher for short pieces

I do a monthly newsletter and a weekly church bulletin. I've tried several, and the most user-friendly I've found is still MS Publisher for Windows. It is intuitive, uses fewer keystrokes for most-often used operations, and links with MS Word to write or edit articles. I'm still looking, but so far it's MS Publisher for me.
—Guest Lloyde

Outdated Software

Dear Jacci, I notice many people here are confusing old software they may be familiar with, with easy-to-use software. MS Paint is easy to use, but it is not usable software in the real world (except the Windows 7 version perhaps). I would recommend that you do a piece on the importance of using up-to-date software. Pagemaker, as compared to Indesign CS-CS4 has a plethora, suffers from an inability to handle contemporary tasks. A simple example would be live-preflight. I recently inherited a legacy media portfolio and because Pagemaker/Photoshop 5.5 did not support lossless workflows well, I am now having immense trouble portin materials. I'll even write the article for you if you want.
—Guest Terence Boylen

What do you thing of Easy Flyer Creator

In my point of view Easy Flyer Creator is easier then Quark, Pagemaker and MS Publisher. as user just choose templates, update images and text in template and print. So it is realy a good desktop publishing application for beginers and new users
—Guest Omar

Favorite Software

I use MS Publisher 2000 to produce and edit the church newsletter and family Christmas newsletter, which are done in Tabloid form. I started out using MS Word XP for them, but encountered difficulties that made it more expedient to use Publisher. I use MS Word XP for the Church Bulletin (done in trifold usually), and most other documents. For the Newsletter and Bulletin, I convert them to PDF using Adobe Acrobat 8 Standard to take them to the printer and to archive them. This yields good results.

retired Artist

I agree with a lot of comments about good old Pagemaker. Have been out of the game for a few years, found I had Pages on my iMac as a trial. Tried it out. With a little more practice, I feel it will stand up to any other programmes I have tried. Had a gut full of Adobe. Snow Leopard has blown away my favourite Desktop system...Macromedia Freehand MX. I started with Freehand 5, way back. Finally I was into the MX Freehand. Adobe took over and are constantly trying to push Adobe Illustrator. I lost all my old Desktop items when Apple moved into MacOS. Hundreds of dollars out the window.. because of the need for sometimes uncalled for improvement. I always loved Adobe Photoshop. I will not pay that sought of dollars for a programme, now that I am retired. I was given an old Quadra. Great I could use my Adobe Photoshop 4... I could not handle the speed. Did I really use that way back. It was nice to use some of the programmes for old time sake.
—Guest Paddy Deegan


Publisher 97 still does the job for my newsletter. I find that having a book with any program is the key to success. Go to the library and read all that are available for your program; even the 'other' versions for a real educational experience. If you don't know WHAT you can do with a program you won't be able to use it.
—Guest Cottonwood

Pages is great

I layout a 40+ newspaper each week. If it were a competition between Quark and Indesign, Quark is the easier. That said, I think Indesign in better for reasons I wont go into. For a low-end user, Pages for Apple is the way to go. The intuitive interface and versatile effects make it a great one for quickies.
—Guest Terence Boylen


There are several Linux programs that are available, but require a bit of reading, use and studying but are eventually a Godsend and free, Scribus, Gimp, both free from Linux and load easily either on under Linux platforms and even executible versions for Windows and are comparable to the more expensive DTP programs and through research are very good. There are other Linux software packages of course, but those used to Windows, Linux also has an excellent GUI Windows, just requires time and patience and use to famaliarize oneself with and it comes in oh so many flavors. OpenGEU by Linux, a Debian based OS downloadable and ISO burnable can be used as a liveCD to see and to believe and to experiment with. But it offers a challenge that can be well worth its learning. It took me time to learm many of the traits of WINDOWs and its quarks, so to is LINUX as SUSE, DEBIAN, and the others, but again worth it. SERIF has many awesome products for the Windows environment as I have discovered.

Simpler is better

I learned on Pagemaker and got baffled by Quark. That was a long time ago, and it's been a few years since I did my last book layout, but my biggest gripe has always been the seemingly established tradition of constantly 'improving' software. Just for the sake of having something new. I know things have to keep getting better. But we tend to lose sight of the fact that change DOES NOT equate to improvement. Especially for those of us who have really learned how to use what we began with.
—Guest Irv Thomas

Easy software for beginner

Nothing is easy at first. With some honest effort the operation of a "professional" layout program such as QuarkXPress or InDesign will become second nature -- and give extremely reliable results. The cost of these programs can be quite steep -- but there are discounts for students. What makes software user-friendly is good old-fashioned practice. That said, I like QuarkXpress for quick and simple layouts: business cards, letterhead, brochures and even books. If a client tends to change the layout all the time I would tend to pick InDesign because of the ease with which changes can be made. I also like the integration with illustrator and photoshop. But that leads us to another problem -- you need to know how to use these other programs too!

Publisher limitations

I do a 16 pg newsletter, a mix of text and photos. Publisher is ok to use, but lacks layers and the ability to lock attributes such as size, position, and proportions. Also, you can't select multiple objects and make changes to them as a group. Each object (text box, photo) has to be modified individually. I'd like to try a more sophisticated program, but fear the learning curve. It's taken me 2 years to get this far in Publisher. Suggestions?
—Guest pshotola

desk top publishing software

I do brochures, programs and newsletters and have been using Publisher for 12 years. Photos are part of all of these publications,and also color separation. I convert it to PDF and send it to the printing service and the results are beautiful.
—Guest Ellena

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