Top Desktop Publishing Software for Windows

Industry-Standard and Most Used Professional Page Layout Software

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The top desktop publishing software programs for Windows users have all been around for a while. That's because they are powerful programs backed by knowledgeable companies. Ease of use, time-saving features and industrywide acceptance are some of the key attributes, although not every desktop publishing software program has them all to the same degree. These programs are the major players in desktop publishing and graphic design for commercial, in-house, small business, and freelance designers.

Adobe InDesign

Many people feel that Adobe InDesign is the clear leader of the digital publishing pack and that it has reached the "Quark Killer" status envisioned when Adobe first released it.

InDesign is the successor to PageMaker, the original desktop publishing software program. It is subscription software available through the Adobe Creative Cloud.

InDesign CC (2018) includes new endnote capabilities, font filtering  enhancements, improvements in the hyperlinks panel performance, UI enhancements, and much more.


In the late '80s and '90s, Quark usurped the desktop publishing community's first love, PageMaker, with QuarkXPress. Once the undisputed king of desktop publishing software applications, Quark's premiere product—QuarkXPress—is still a powerhouse publishing platform.

With the most recent release, QuarkXPress adds new shape tools, transparency blend modes, UI enhancements, smart text linking, automatic table of contents, and responsive HTML5 publications for multidevice output.

QuarkXPress 2017 is sold with a perpetual license (no subscription required). 


Serif PagePlus X9

PagePlus is now a legacy product for Serif. It is still available, but it is no longer being supported or developed. Serif has turned its attention to a new line of publishing software, Affinity Publisher, which is scheduled for release in 2018.

The first PagePlus application was released in 1991. PagePlus X9, the last version, was released in late 2015. Many publishing professionals still support it.

Aimed at both novice and professional users, the affordable Serif PagePlus X9 combines ease-of-use and professional output options, including PDF, with word processing, drawing, advanced layout, and typesetting. It's a strong competitor for Windows users who want to step up from Microsoft Publisher. The current version—PagePlus X9— is considered by some users to be on par with industry leaders Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress.

Serif PagePlus X9 for Windows has enhanced PDF Export, PDF overprint, a redesigned calendar manager and much more.

Adobe FrameMaker

Adobe FrameMaker is a powerhouse desktop publishing/XML editing software for corporations and others who produce technical writing or complex documents for web, print, and other distribution methods. It's overkill for individuals and small businesses, but for in-house, big-business publishing, it's a top choice.

Framemaker is capable of publishing multilingual technical content and supports mobile, web, desktop, and print applications. Publish the content as responsive HTML5, mobile app, PDF, ePub, and other formats.

Adobe FrameMaker 2017 release for Windows is available as a standalone product or for a monthly subscription fee.


Microsoft Publisher

The entry-level desktop publishing application in the Microsoft Office suite is Publisher. It is popular with individuals, small businesses, and schools. It is not as feature rich as the other software programs on this list, and it doesn't support as many formats, but it is useful for generating publications and includes page parts such as sidebars, calendars, borders, advertisements, and more.

Publisher 2016 is available as a standalone product, and it is included with an Office 365 Home or Office 365 Personal subscription.