Best Desktop Publishing Software of 2018

Rebecca Spear ·
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

After comparing 10 desktop publishing programs to find the best layout tools and capabilities, we determined that Xara Page & Layout Designer is the best overall due to its many professional-looking designs, typography capabilities and importing compatibility. We were impressed that a program with this many graphic design and layout tools was also well organized and easy to use. Whether you are working from home or using this program for your business, it  can help you create top-quality projects. 

Best Overall

Xara Page & Layout Designer

Xara Page & Layout Designer combines professional-level layouts and graphics with an incredibly user-friendly interface. Advanced designers, business and home-users alike will find this program helpful.
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Best Value

Microsoft Publisher

Since Office is found in most professional environments, you can almost guarantee that anything you create with Microsoft Publisher will be accessible and compatible with other programs within a business setting.
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Best for Professional Use

Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign has long been the professional designer standard when it comes to publishing and page layouts. This program provides top-quality template, typing and graphic design tools. You will also find hundreds of online tutorials.
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Product
Price
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$39.99CJ
$99.99CJ
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$49.99CJ
Overall Rating
9.3
9.1
8.1
6.3
6.2
5.9
5
5
4.5
4.4
Layout & Publishing
8.5
10
8.5
8.5
3
4.5
1.5
1.5
2.3
0.8
Graphic Design
10
7
5.5
2.8
8.8
5.8
9
9
5.8
5.8
Typography & Templates
9.8
10
10
8.3
7.5
7.5
7
6.8
8.3
7.5
Help & Support
9
10
10
3.8
9
9
3.3
3.3
2.8
9
Avery Template Support
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Business Templates
90%
100%
100%
100%
90%
90%
75%
75%
70%
90%
Creative Templates
80%
100%
100%
0%
90%
100%
85%
85%
40%
100%
Template Variations
600+
250+
700+
9
4,300+
5,500+
25,000+
16,750+
1,800+
4,800+
Windows 10
N/A
Windows Vista
N/A
N/A
Windows 7
Windows 8
N/A
Formatting Styles
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Word Processor
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Text Reflow
N/A
Included Fonts
600+
500+
60+
300+
None
600+
1,000+
700+
1,000+
600+
Kerning/Tracking
N/A
N/A
Spellchecker
Tables
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Charts & Graphs
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Export to PDF
Proportional Snapping
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Master Pages
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Import Microsoft Word Files
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
CMYK Optimization
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Import Photoshop PSD Files
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Custom Guides
N/A
N/A
Forum
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Live Chat
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Telephone
N/A
N/A
N/A
$
$
N/A
N/A
FAQs
Tutorials
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Email/Ticketing
N/A
N/A
Included Art Assets
3,000+
$
150,000+
9
155,000+
250,000+
377,000+
277,000+
8,400+
193,000+
Gradients & Transparency
N/A
3D Effects
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Bevel & Emboss
N/A
N/A
N/A
Photo Correction Tools
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Text-on-a-Path
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Photoshop-Style Filters
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
QuickShapes
Vector Graphics Editor
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Color Adjustment
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Best Overall

Xara Page & Layout Designer

Xara Page & Layout Designer balances having beautiful templates with a sleek program interface, making it a good choice for professionals and home-users alike. It might not have as many templates or art assets as other programs, but what it offers is well-designed.
This software is easy to navigate so you will be able to learn the program's features quickly. The master pages feature helps create uniformity in your projects, and this program uses custom guides and proportional snapping to help you create balanced and symmetrical designs. You can also import Microsoft Word and Photoshop PSD files easily. Unfortunately, this program does not feature tools to allow you to quickly create tables, charts or graphs. It gives you access to roughly 600 templates and 3,000 art assets, which isn't as much as other programs but will definitely give you enough to work with. This program comes with a spell checker so you can be sure to avoid any misspellings. You can also adjust kerning and tracking, as well as use text flow to make sure your paragraphs and text look exactly the way you want. In addition to having online tutorials, the company offers a user forum and FAQs page. You can also contact a customer representative by email.
Pros
  • It’s very user-friendly.
  • The company offers several tutorials.
  • You can import text from Word and PSD files.
Cons
  • It doesn't offer as many templates as other programs.
  • You cannot create tables, charts or graphs.
  • There aren't as many art assets compared to other programs.
$49.99CJ
Best Value

Microsoft Publisher

Microsoft Publisher has several layout and typography tools. Unlike most of the other programs, it also allows you to easily create tables, charts and graphs to enhance your projects.
Unfortunately, while this program easily allows you to import Word files, it cannot import Photoshop PSD files. It also doesn't feature proportional snapping, so it will take a little more work to make various items lineup in an aesthetically pleasing way. Publisher comes with over 150,000 graphics, including vector images, clipart and stock photos so you can enhance your documents with appropriate imagery. You can also add a few special effects to your images by using gradient and transparency tools, and it has the ability to bevel and emboss images. Unfortunately, this program doesn't provide photo corrections tools like color adjustments or filters. There are over 700 templates for you to use that work for both professional and relaxed settings. Since this program is closesly connected with Word, it offers all of the typographical tools you could want, including a spell checker, the ability to adjust kerning and tracking, and text reflow to ensure that none of your text gets lost when copying and pasting. There are dozens of video tutorials online, as well as a user forum and a FAQs page. If you need to contact customer support, you can do so via phone or live chat.
Pros
  • It features over 150,000 graphics.
  • You can create charts, tables and graphs.
  • There are plenty of tutorials to learn from.
Cons
  • Doesn't offer as many graphic design tools as some programs.
  • It doesn't offer as many templates as other software.
  • You cannot import Photoshop PSD files.
$99.99Linkshare
Best for Professional Use

Adobe InDesign

Adobe InDesign is one of the most commonly used professional desktop publishers. It offers a wide range of graphic design and page layout tools, plus gives you a lot of freedom when placing text and imagery.
It has a steep learning curve and isn't the best choice for beginners. It is also meant to be used in conjunction with Adobe's other programs, so it doesn't feature the photo editing tools that you would find in Photoshop. Adobe has an enormous assets library online that includes hundreds of thousands of stock photos, clip art and vector images. Unfortunately, it requires a subscription to get access to these assets. If you work for a large company, this isn't a big deal, but might not be worth it if you plan to work from home. As it comes, InDesign offers over 250 templates that can be used for both professional-level documents as well as fun projects like postcards, calendars and posters. Unfortunately, this program cannot be used to create charts or graphs. Adobe sells all of its products on the cloud through subscription. You can choose to pay for the entire Adobe Suite or you can simply choose the InDesign program. Any InDesign subscription plan comes with access to Adobe TypeKit, giving you over 500 fonts to work with, as well as all of the typography tools you could want. If you need help, there are hundreds of online tutorials.
Pros
  • There are literally hundreds of tutorials to help you learn the software.
  • This program can help you create just about any page layout.
  • This program comes with TypeKit, which gives you over 500 fonts.
Cons
  • You cannot create charts and graphs.
  • You must pay a subscription for online art assets.
  • It has a steep learning curve.
$239.88Tradedoubler

Why Trust Us
We’ve been evaluating desktop publishing software for the past 12 years. Whenever we compare software, we create a list of each program's tools and features. Our goal is to determine which of the programs is easiest to use while giving the user freedom to create what they want. We looked for programs that would work well for professionals, programs that would be best for beginners, and programs that worked for both categories.

While we didn't test this software, we read plenty of user reviews to see which programs were the most liked and the most user-friendly. Any time users gave red flags or glowing praise, we made sure to research those areas more thoroughly to further evaluate a software's performance. 

How We Evaluated
In our most recent evaluation, we spent over 50 hours comparing the capabilities and features of 10 programs to determine which ones had the best layout, graphic design and typography tools. Programs that offered more tools typically scored better. We looked for features that made programs easier to use, including proportional snapping, master pages and the ability to import both Photoshop PSD and Microsoft Word files. We favored programs that were compatible with other programs and made the designing process easier.

We tallied up art assets available through each program to see which one provided the most. Since quantity isn't everything, we also checked to see if the designs offered were modern and stylish enough for professional and personal use. Programs with large quantities of beautiful graphics scored higher than software that offered large quantities of subpar art. Similarly, while we counted the number of templates each program came with, we also looked to see if they were classy and suited for professional as well as informal occasions. Programs that adequately covered both categories scored higher in our comparison.

Since type tools add a lot to overall creation, we looked for programs that offered everything from a spellchecker to kerning and tracking adjustments. Programs with formatting styles scored better than others since this feature allows greater productivity.

When you have questions, getting help from the company should be easy, so we looked at each software's support features. Programs that offered more points of contact for customer support, like phone, live chat and email, scored higher. We also favored companies that provided video tutorials, a FAQs page and a user forum. 

Choosing Desktop Publishing Software
The best desktop publishing software is easy to use and provides lots of beautiful templates and graphics for you to use. These programs should be useful for professional-level projects or at-home creations. You'll want to make sure the program you choose has all of the features and tools you need.

Layout & Publishing Tools
Master pages are incredibly convenient, helping you create headers and footers for multiple pages. This helps you stay organized and allows you to flip through specific pages of your project quickly. Programs that use custom guides and proportional snapping help you maintain a level of professionalism in your creations. If you want a program that can print projects in colors that are similar to what you see on your screen, you will definitely want to get one that offers CMYK optimization.

It is less common for these kinds of programs to be able to make charts, graphs and tables. If these elements are important to you, make sure you find a program that offers them. Programs that allow you to import Word and PSD files can also be incredibly helpful since this increases the amount of text and image documents you can use.

Graphic Design Tools
Even though some less expensive programs come with a lot of templates, art assets and fonts, we’ve found these less expensive programs often don't have many modern or professional-looking graphics compared to the more expensive programs. It’s a matter of quality versus quantity – and we prefer quality. If you plan on creating a lot of your documents from scratch, you should look for a software that offers a wide range of graphic design tools like photo correction tools, the ability to add gradients and transparency to your projects, and photo color adjustments.

Templates
Some programs do a better job of providing creative templates for calendars, posters and stationary sets, while others are more professional, covering business cards, letter heads, menus and resumes. The number of templates offered varies from program to program, but the best offer hundreds of choices. Remember that just because a program offers more templates, it doesn't mean that they are chic or modern enough for you to actually want to use them. Before you decide, take time to look at the sample templates offered by each program.


Typography
Many desktop publishers come with fonts for you to use, but more importantly, they come with tools that can help you optimize your text. Most programs offer text reflow that allows you to make sure that content from one textbox gets neatly placed in a new location without losing any. Spellcheckers are also very common and will help you catch any errors that could distract from your creations.

Some programs go so far as to provide word processing tools so you can make common changes and enhancements to your text. This can include making changes to fonts and adjusting kerning and tracking directly within the program instead of needing to import it from another document.

Help & Support
The best programs offer dozens, if not hundreds, of online tutorials. Similarly, community forums can help you get answers to your questions from other users. Programs that offer multiple ways to contact customer support – email, phone or live chat – can make your life easier.

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