If you want to make presentations for print, fancy brochures, or even desktop publishing, Microsoft Publisher is probably one of the best options for that kind of work. It’s certainly good software, which you’d expect from Microsoft, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.
Although there are many users of Microsoft Publisher, they’ve a few complaints about the application. If you’re a new designer, you probably won’t find it very user-friendly. In fact, with this popular application, it can often be quite a challenge to get the printed materials to look the way you want them to.
Microsoft Publisher is relatively inexpensive and can do many things very well, but there are other applications that are just as good, if not better. That’s why I went looking for other content management apps, tried them out, and gave you my opinion.
When it comes to designing materials for print, I’m certainly a beginner, so you should keep that in mind when reading this review. After a lot of searching and testing, I’m happy to present you with the 7 best alternatives to Microsoft Publisher.
The 7 Best Microsoft Publisher Alternatives
1. Adobe InDesign – $20.99 a month
If you’re already at a good level when it comes to design work, Adobe InDesign is a serious alternative to Microsoft Publisher. There’s a 7-day free trial, but after that you’ll have to pay $20.99 per month, so it can get pretty expensive. It’s really a good option if you’re constantly designing new materials.
Adobe InDesign is available for both Mac and Windows. I was pretty overwhelmed when I tried this programme because it seemed to have just about every feature you could imagine. I’d to watch the tutorials (which were great) to even get started. It’s definitely too advanced for new designers.
Adobe InDesign has a good interface and I found it pretty easy to navigate. I’ve no doubt that it’s one of the most powerful applications out there, but for a newbie like me, the learning curve was pretty steep.
2. Scribus – Free
So this is the free open source alternative to Microsoft Publisher you’ve been waiting for, and it’s really good. The first good news is that you can install Scribus on your Mac or Windows computer. Since it’s open source, you can install it on many different computers and take your designs with you.
I was a little scared to use Scribus, but I didn’t need to be. It’s a drag-and-drop interface that I found pretty easy to use. I liked the feature that you can import PDF documents and export your designs as PDFs as well. Sometimes I’d a problem with the formatting.
I couldn’t use all the features of Scribus because I didn’t have the scripting knowledge to use them. Many professional designers like Scribus and it’s not hard to understand why. As a beginner, I was able to create some fairly simple designs without much trouble, but there are simpler applications out there for beginners.
3. Spring Publisher – Free version and Pro is $29.95
Spring Publisher is a Windows-only design application that’s a good Microsoft Publisher. I’ve found that I can design flyers, business cards, letterheads, and brochures pretty easily with Spring Publisher. I like the fact that Spring Publisher is template based and you can choose a template to start with if you’re a beginner like me.
If you already know a bit about print design, you can start with a blank template and just do your own thing. I was able to easily modify one of the templates so that it was exactly what I wanted. An example of this was creating a business card where I’d to change the name, address, and other details.
What I really liked about Spring Publisher was that you could move all the elements of your design at once, instead of moving each one individually. Creating and changing templates was easy and I’d recommend the Pro version as the free version has limited features.
4. QuarkXPress – Free trial then either $295 per year or $699 Perpetual
Yes, it’s expensive, but QuarkXPress is a really good Microsoft Publisher alternative. It probably has the same feature set as Adobe InDesign (I haven’t done a direct comparison) and has everything you need to create high-quality designs for print and desktop publishing newsletters.
I found that one of the best things about QuarkXPress is the fact that they really listen to their users and keep adding new features that users want. I liked the drag and drop functionality and the fact that you can easily change the page size. To be honest, this is really an application for professionals and I found it quite exhausting.
QuarkXPress just has so many features and some of them I didn’t even understand! I’d to go through some training to get started. So if you’re new to design, you should find something easier to start with.
5. Marq – Free Version and Pro at $12.95 per month
Marq is web-based, so you can use it on any platform. It’s another good Microsoft Publisher alternative. When I pulled up Marq, I was immediately impressed with its drag-and-drop functionality. In fact, it was very similar to Microsoft Publisher in many ways and I found it easier to use.
Thanks to the impressive selection of templates, I was able to get started with Lucidpress right away. It’s a great design app for beginners because you can just pick one of the pre-made templates and get started right away. It’s pretty easy to create brochures, leaflets, flyers, business cards and even logos.
I must say that the free version is pretty good, but the Pro version is much better. You don’t need any design skills to get good results with Marq. I’ve created some very good designs for print and really don’t know what I’m doing. Some web-based applications can be a bit sluggish, but Marq certainly wasn’t.
6. Print Artist 25 Gold – $29.99
Print Artist 25 Gold is a cost-effective Microsoft Publisher alternative that’s many impressive features. You get more than 16,000 professional templates and over 277,000 graphics with the application that you can use in your designs. Although Print Artist 25 Gold is primarily a programme for creating greeting cards, you can do much more with it.
Thanks to the great templates, it was easy for me to create calendars, certificates, stationery, labels, and much more. For me, there was no learning curve and if you’re a design beginner, you shouldn’t have to spend too much time learning Print Artist 25 Gold.
I wanted to import some of my photos into the application, which was easy. The image size was easy to change and it was very easy to add and edit text. If you want to share your designs on Facebook, you can do that right in the app. There are a lot of editing tools and the app was intuitive to use.
7. Serif Page Plus – $19.99
You can still buy Serif Page Plus, even though it’s an older product, so I think it’s a good Microsoft Publisher alternative. As a beginner, I found it really easy to create newsletters, brochures, posters, flyers and even business cards with Page Plus.
When you use Page Plus, the app asks you what you want to create in a pop-up window. Then it shows you a number of templates to choose from to design your printed material. I found this very helpful, and it inspired me to come up with some ideas of my own.
Page Plus is mostly drag-and-drop, and I tried the application right away without bothering with any training. Page Plus has some great features, and if you want to create your design from scratch, that’s no problem. Page Plus is for Windows users.
Final Verdict on the Microsoft Publisher alternatives
You probably know what I’m trying to say here. There are Microsoft Publisher alternatives for those new to print design, and there are full-featured applications with all the bells and whistles for those who’ve plenty of experience. The experienced user has a choice between Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress.
For new users, there are a number of options. An inexpensive solution that’s really easy to use is Page Plus from Serif, but it’s an outdated product, which may scare some people away. Another good solution for new users is Lucidpress. I really liked this web-based application and you can try the free version to see if you like it.
If you don’t want to spend money, Scribus is the only real choice. While it’s also possible to create print designs in free office suites like Libre Office, Scribus is geared towards that and you’ll find it much easier once you learn how to really use it.