PROS / The Print Shop Professional offers master pages for producing professional multipage documents.
CONS / You can’t import content from Microsoft Word.
VERDICT / This software can be used for personal and professional projects, but its graphic tools are still a step or two behind the best.
The Print Shop Professional was the first desktop publishing software to use templates and clip art to easily design posters and cards at home. The Print Shop effectively pioneered at-home desktop publishing applications as we know them, and though it's since been lapped by better products, it remains a strong name in the industry.
The Print Shop Professional 4.0 is designed to offer the budding designer an easy way to put good-looking labels, business cards, calendars and stationery together, and it works well for these types of projects. It also has master pages that you can use to give consistency to multipage documents. The program's 5,500 templates run the gamut of formats and publication types, while many of its 250,000 art assets are of high quality. With this many templates and tools at your discretion, most people shouldn't have a problem finding art assets they like.
As a tool for designing simple documents, The Print Shop Professional may be a success. However, while it includes many features of the best desktop publishing software, it falls short in a few areas. It doesn't have an integrated vector graphics editor you can use to create a new business logo or modify an existing, template logo to suit your needs. It doesn't have the ability to import content from standard programs like Microsoft Word – if you want to write longer articles, you'll have to copy-paste them in and spend time tweaking the text formatting.
On the plus side, Print Shop 4.0 offers master pages, which will give consistency to multipage documents and is great for creating newsletters and brochures. You can have the same header and footer throughout the document and display consistent themes. If you are creating a document with a music theme, for instance, you can place musical symbols in the background as a watermark. This feature gives it a professional edge over many desktop publishers on the market. This program also lets you create documents from scratch, independent of templates, if you have a specific type of document in mind. You can also perform tasks like touching up photos, correcting colors and cropping, so you can get creative and make your photos look great.
Thankfully, there are a few tools at your disposal to make managing text a bit easier than it otherwise could be. You can use the kerning to manipulate the spacing between letters – a seemingly small thing, but it can make a lot of difference when you're trying to fit a lot of text in the space you have available. If you need a table, you can insert and manipulate one from within The Print Shop – a capability far too many competitors can't boast. Unfortunately, the same is not true of charts and graphs.
There are a number of helpful tutorials on the Broderbund website and helpful videos on YouTube. You can contact customer service through email, phone or live chat, which is a rare service for this kind of software, allowing you to get answers to your questions in real time online.
The Print Shop Professional 4.0 is one of the biggest names in desktop publishing, and Broderbund is always making improvements to its software. Print Shop has master pages that let you create uniform professional documents. It has thousands of template and graphic options, so finding templates that match the project you’re working on shouldn’t be a problem, but you may need to dig around a bit to find them. You can also create your own project from scratch, if you have a specific look in mind, independent of templates. This multidimensional software has stood the test of time, but as good as it is, it isn’t quite up to the level of the best software we reviewed.