The first, more advanced, program is Scribus, a free open source program that was originally written for Linux but is now available for Mac OS X, OS2 and Windows. Scribus is the real thing; a professional quality page layout program capable of producing "press-ready" output. The user interface though highly functional, is not quite as slick as its commercial cousins but it can be skinned to fit in with the look of whatever operating system you are using. The second is PagePlus Starter Edition from Serif Software, makers of the well known free digital editor PhotoPlus. The program comes with a good set of templates to help get the creatively challenged started and more templates can be downloaded from the web. Windows 2000 to 8 x86, Vista to 8 x64, Mac OS X, Various Linux Distributions, OS2 eComStation.
It's a very good tool for one or two-sided projects like business cards, flyers and brochures -- not your novel. Sribis is surely the better tool for professionally printed jobs, but LibreOffice Draw is better for simple jobs printed at home. BTW -- I'm a professional graphic artist and prefer a blank page rather than templates or wizards in programs like MS Publisher.


But don't despair, there are two excellent desktop publishing programs that are totally free.
The feature list is impressive, basically everything you want is there including: CMYK color, separations, ICC color management and versatile PDF creation. The documentation is excellent and there is lots of support from Scribus's enthusiastic user community. Text creation and manipulation works well while images can be cut and pasted, re-sized and moved around the templates with ease. In fact if you can use Microsoft Word you can use PagePlus SE to accomplish far more with your layout than is possible with Word. If you would like to give something back to the freeware community by taking it over, check out this page for more details. With regards to PagePlus Starter Edition's inability to save to PDF, there is a very simple solution.
One is ideal for small business and an excellent alternative to Microsoft Publisher; the other is a serious competitor to the high-end, feature rich commercial programs. Graphics manipulation is handled via an interface to the Gimp, another open source program.


The SE version is lacking a lot of features available in the current product but has more than enough to produce the relatively simple brochures, flyers, ads, and newsletters used by small businesses and charitable organizations. Serif is also noted for offering previous customers great deals on even their latest versions, so, for some, it might be worthwhile to become a customer and watch for deals. The ability to convert printable documents to PDF is certainly important to every desktop publisher. In fact its lack of complex features makes it a much more user friendly and easier to learn program for beginners with only basic publishing needs. As of July 2010, a new and greatly improved version, compatible with Windows 7 is now available. File formats available to save your work are also somewhat limited and do not include the ability to save your work in PDF format. However, for $9.95 you can upgrade to version 9 that handles PDF as well as adding a lot of other features such as Pantone colors, freehand tools, mail merge and web publishing.



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