How to Choose Creative Printing Software
The top performers in our review are Print Artist Platinum, the Gold Award winner; PrintMaster Platinum, the Silver Award winner; and Greeting Card Factory Deluxe, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing software to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of these 10 choices.
We reviewed creative printing software that allows you to make both personalized items like stationery and professional materials like brochures. Print management software should offer templates that reflect both of these needs, along with tools to fix pictures, graphics and text. Support services that guide you through the software should also come with the purchase.
Creative print software can take your handmade paper projects to the next level, with a professional, sleek finish. Other products in the digital photo printing format give you similar results for your photography needs. You can read additional tips in our articles about creative print software.
Creative Printing Software: What We Evaluated, What We Found
We determined the effectiveness of each creative printing software by whether or not it offers product templates, lets you add and edit graphics and images, and gives you tools to alter text. The best programs are full of templates, all of which you should be able to physically and aesthetically match with your projects. There should be editing tools like text rotation and image effects as well. The software publisher should also offer services like live chat and email support that enable you to contact the manufacturers in case of technical emergencies.
Top Ten Reviews seeks, whenever possible, to evaluate all products and services in hands-on tests that simulate as closely as possible the experiences of a typical consumer. We judged the software by comparing the product templates, graphic and image tools, text tools and support services. The manufacturers had no input or influence over our testing methodology, nor was the methodology provided to any of them in more detail than is available by reading our reviews. The results of our evaluations were not provided to manufacturers in advance of publication.
Key Attributes of Creative Printing Software
While you should take many factors into consideration before you purchase creative printing software, a few stand out more than others for giving you a smooth printing experience. First, a large number of product templates, along with kinds that can align with your needs, give you a starting point for your projects, whether you want to make posters for your band's concert or a newsletter for your company.
Second, graphic and image tools allow you to make your photos the correct size and sheen for a project. Third, text tools help you fit the words in a project with its mood and images. Fourth, you should be able to share your projects on formats like social media and DVD. Last, help and support services have ways to help you with the software or teach you to use it. All of these attributes factored heavily into our ranking of each software application.
Product Templates: Setting It in Stone
During our research, we looked into the variety of templates each program offers. We evaluated the templates available for professional needs and personal projects. The best applications have a large number of professional and personal choices. Print Artist Platinum had the largest number of templates at more than 28,000.
Graphic & Image Tools: Cutting the Corners
With any creative printing software, there should be ways to add and edit pictures in your projects. The best applications have a large image library in addition to cropping, resizing and color adjustment. The Print Shop Deluxe has one of the largest image libraries, and Art Explosion Publisher Pro has all the essential image tools. Knowing in advance whether you want a lot of images in a photo library and editing tools helps you judge the software's image tools.
Text Tools: Read the Fine Print
When your projects rely more on words than on pictures, having plenty of fonts and text tools makes them look more aesthetically appealing. Fonts can help you set a mood for your project, making it casual or businesslike. A spell-checker makes your projects less likely to contain errors, and the ability to wrap and rotate text takes you from generic straight-across printing to more creative arrangements. Greeting Card Factory Deluxe has the largest collection of fonts of any software we reviewed, and Microsoft Publisher has text effects and rotation, both of which are valuable text tools.
Sharing Capabilities: Spread Your Wings
With so many ways to send cards or forms, sharing capabilities are a bonus. Social media integration with sites like Facebook is useful, particularly if your projects are family-oriented. Mail merge can work well in an office environment that requires email exchanges with a lot of colleagues, and burning your project to an interactive CD or DVD lets you give out your project as a physical copy that is sturdier than paper.
Help & Support: Taking Advantage
With so many functions and tools at your disposal, each application should have support services that get you up to speed with how to manage the software, and provide you with assistance if a problem arises. A list of FAQs is useful if your inquiry involves an easily fixable problem. Both email and phone support are helpful, and you should look for free phone support; a fee is an unappealing caveat to some software publishers' phone services. Live chat, which connects you to a representative on the publisher's site, lets you get direct answers quickly. Hallmark Card Studio has all of these services, with no fees tagged on for any of them.
What Else Is Important in Selecting Creative Printing Software?
Some features are better determining factors than others as to a software package's overall quality. Webpages, image library and text effects give you the ability to make your print projects look more advanced, and each should have many choices for customization.
Webpages: Pieces of the Digital World
Even though these services are focused on printing traditional products like greetings cards, we admire the ability to think toward the future by offering templates for webpages. With some creative printing software, you can design webpages that display your family photos, or for a site with your company's upcoming schedules. Software with webpage templates, like Page & Layout Designer, offers the old favorites for printing along with some new additions that reflect the changing times.
Image Library: Painting a Picture
Images can make or break the tone of greeting cards, scrapbooks and many other print projects. Having as many as possible at your fingertips can help you make your projects more decorative. Print & Layout Designer has hundreds of images, many of which you can use for vacation themes and graduation materials. If you have visual themes in mind for a printed item, then having a large image library helps you bring them to life.
Text Effects: Just the Right Effect
Adding beauty or spontaneity to your text helps set a theme for each project. If you are sending out Halloween party invitations, you can place a shadow behind your letters to make them look creepy and dark. If there is a word you need to emphasize in a sentence, then text effects enable you to highlight the word. You can use text effects to set the right tone for whatever project you are working on.
Our Verdict & Recommendations
Print Artist Platinum, PrintMaster Platinum and Greeting Card Factory Deluxe are all superb creative printing software applications. Greeting Card Factory Deluxe, the Bronze Award winner, has the largest number of fonts out of all the items we reviewed, with pictures that you can use for projects as diverse as wedding scrapbooks and business newsletters.
Our Silver Award winner, PrintMaster Platinum, has the largest number of product templates for its project choices. Print Artist Platinum can manage nearly any print project with its many templates, its gigantic image library, and the image and text tools that augment its other attributes. It wins our Gold Award for its varied templates, image library and text tools.
Other creative printing applications on our lineup have plentiful offerings. The Print Shop Deluxe has a comprehensive image library, and Microsoft Publisher offers a template for almost every product you can imagine. Each option has a superb variety of features.
All of the creative printing tools on our lineup are solid choices whether you are a beginner or a veteran of printed projects. Finding software that gives you the best, most convenient way to complete your flyers, brochures, calendars and other items is possible with our reviews, so you can bring a personal flair to your work for colleagues, friends and family.