What Is the Best Desktop Publishing Software?

Finding the Software Programs That Work Best for You

There is no single best desktop publishing software program. There are, however, specific programs that are better suited for certain tasks than others. It is safe to say that most desktop publishers use several of these programs.

How Will You Use the Software?

Before you start comparing products, identify what you plan to do with your desktop publishing software. Your planned use and your current desktop publishing and design knowledge can help you find the software with just the right combination of features. The best desktop publishing software program is the one (or more) that does what you want and need it to do. Few desktop publishers rely on a single program to do it all. 

If you are designing for print, a page layout program, photo editor and illustration software are the basics. If you design for the web, web design software and photo editing software are the tools you need to start with. Designing for either print or web, you'll probably also need a text editor like Microsoft Word or Bare Bones BBEdit. This list includes well-reviewed software from established companies, but the list isn't comprehensive. If a different program works well for you, then use it. 

Best Page Layout Software for Professional Use

  • Adobe InDesign
  • QuarkXPress
  • Serif PagePlus (PC)

Best Page Layout Software for General Use 

  • Scribus (free)
  • Pages (Mac)
  • Microsoft Publisher (PC)

Best Web Design Software for Professionals

Best Free Website Builder

  • CoffeeCup Free HTML Editor
  • Google Web Designer
  • Kompozer
  • Weebly Free Website Builder

Best Illustration Software

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • CorelDraw Graphics Suite (Windows)
  • Inkscape
  • Serif DrawPlus (Windows)

Best Photo-Editing Software

Just about everyone agrees that Photoshop reigns supreme in this category. If you can't afford Adobe Photoshop, then choose one of the nearest contenders.

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Serif Affinity Photo (Mac)
  • Adobe Photoshop Elements 
  • Corel PaintShop Pro (PC)
  • GIMP (free)

Do Your Homework

Some of these programs cost hundreds of dollars; some are free. Some are only for use on a PC or on a Mac; some work on both. Read the information at each program's website to help you make a choice. After you select the software programs that you need, take the time to work through tutorials that are provided with the software or online. These programs are powerful and have many features you can use to deliver top-notch print and web designs.