Desktop Publishing Software

Best 7 Free and Open Source Desktop Publishing Software

Best 7 Free and Open Source Desktop Publishing Software

Experts working within the sales and marketing divisions of different companies believe that it takes more than just fantastic copywriting to entice consumers down the funnel. A combination of graphics, images, and text arranged perfectly on appropriate and corresponding page layouts is essential to convey non-linear messages to consumers and attract their attention. 

The principle applies for documents not related to just sales or marketing - it can correspond to scientific journals, magazine presentations, editorials and advertorials, information brochures, and even hoardings. To achieve the perfect amalgamation of graphics, text on a page layout, one must use Desktop Publishing and the plethora of solutions available under this category. Desktop Publishing or DTP enables one to generate printed content effortlessly. 

This blog on free and open source desktop publishing software helps users determine the best features, advantages, costs, and other factors associated with publishing solutions to make the right business decision. Desktop Publishing software helps businesses attract consumers, retain old ones, and profoundly impact the industry they work within. They are a competitive advantage. One can immediately publish these documents, reducing the overall process time and getting information out quickly.

What is Desktop Publishing?

Desktop Publishing, or DTP,  is a critical element in today’s content spectrum. It is the process of designing and creating documents on multiple page layouts, using a computer and appropriate software. Desktop Publishing helps generate perfect typographical documents (through digital mediums) for various purposes, including commercial printing, online distribution, and offline brochures or documents. Creating the perfect document to engage customers is achievable through customization and alignment of images, text, and other graphic options. Desktop publishing also gives users much-needed control over documents’ creative process, employing a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) layout dashboard.  

What is Desktop Publishing Software?

Considered one of the most critical software solutions in the modern era, desktop publishing software is a suite of digital solutions that allow for quick creation and publication of documents ensuring the right mix of graphics, text, and images. Publishing papers created via online desktop publishing software happens electronically (emails, newsletters, web content) or commercially (brochures, books, posters, etc.) 

Desktop publishing apps come with instant page layouts, chosen by users to produce their ideal documents through exact, visual representation of information and necessary typographical order. Desktop publishing software thrives within multiple industries, ranging from creating visualized CVs to outbound advertising collateral.     

Impact of Desktop Publishing on Businesses 

Desktop publishing is not a fad but an established medium of publishing expertise. Several organizations profit massively by employing desktop publishing systems. Some instances as to desktop publishing tools’ effectiveness are as follows - 

  • Time - Desktop publishing tools are easy to operate and help create print quality documents, brochures, web content, and other documents within short periods of time. One can immediately publish these documents, reducing the overall process time, and getting information out quickly.
  • Customer Satisfaction - Publishing software’s contribution to a shortened ideation and printing process directly impacts customer satisfaction, regardless of whether the customer is external to or inter-organization entity. Furthermore, DTP solutions allow easy sharing for faster approvals and employ easy customization of any form of documents - all of which attract clients. 
  • Cost - Desktop publishing results in immense monetary gains. The price to create, and print or publish is considerably lower. Typical typeset methods, requiring massive investment and considerable value in the recalibration of documents, face avoidance. 
  • Labour Utilization - Choosing the old printing process, which required hundreds of person-hours in the typesetting process alone, is a thing of the past. Newer, sophisticated desktop publishing software enhances workforce utilization and expertise into creativity and customized innovative solutions based on software.

Effect of Desktop Publishing  Industry Sectors benefiting from Desktop Publishing

The publishing industry spreads far and wide, but desktop publishing is slowly becoming an in-house solution for several organizations, notably creative and advertising agencies. The enterprises, small, medium, and large-scale in nature, employ desktop publication software to offer clients timely and bespoke solutions for their creative printing needs. Besides the above, traditional printing companies are adapting to the advantages of desktop publishing solutions. Gone are the days of typeset printing. Commercial printing is affordable, time-efficient, and accurate.      

The type of industries using desktop publishing software varies from automobile, banking, insurance, entertainment, and the like, to mom-and-pop businesses, individual contributors, publishers, etc. Desktop publishing software finds employment in the education industry in the digital-first era. Many institutes (grades one to post-graduation) turn to desktop publishing software to help teachers access resources with information represented in a manner useful for them and easy to understand for the students. Brochures and emails are also heavily marketed to prompt enrolment. 

Another industry applying desktop publishing software is the Internet and Information Technology (IT) organizations. These organizations are dependent on DTP solutions to publish a variety of online content for consumption by audiences. A recent study indicates that close to 61% of all American consumers spend time reading blogs. Furthermore, there is a rapid increase in consumers’ preference to multi-format content on social media. Therefore companies need to deploy DTP software carefully to match the needs of users on these platforms.   

Trends in the Desktop Publishing industry

The desktop publishing industry is evolving. Not only are newer features being added to the entire spectrum of offerings, but there are different principles of DTP software development that affect organizations and individual contributors alike. Some of them as follows - 

  • Deployment Model - There is an incidence of DTP tools being available for usage on a cloud-computing model, with data protected through enhanced encryption. Traditional on-site, platform-specific models continue to be available; however, cloud solutions are more attractive owing to the lack of investment in supporting hardware needed. 
  • Mobile Dependence - The digital era is quickly translating to become the mobile-first era. With over 50 percent of the global internet consumption coming from mobile devices, it is essential to have DTP platforms create content more suited for them. Another study indicates that 62 percent of customers will recommend purchase after they experience useful, mobile-friendly information. 
  • Real-Time Collaboration - DTP software is quickly becoming a hub for experts to create and peers/clients to review the project instantaneously. Individual contributors can collaborate to make the final offering more pertinent to business goals, but clients can provide instantaneous feedback, shortening the entire approval process. 
  • Visual Content - Consumers diversify their content consumption from just text to multiple media formats that convey information quicker and are pleasing to the eye. Research indicated visually shared information stays longer in memory and is easier to retrieve. Meanwhile, text-only information completely disappears in this period. Therefore visual communication is significant for marketing efforts, and nothing better than desktop publishing software to help create a lasting impact. 
  • Open Source Solutions -  There is a spurt in desktop publishing needs globally, alongside a necessity to have collaborative solutions that designers and technology experts can easily use. Open Source desktop publishing software, much like those covered in this blog, allows users to customize the software to their needs and benefits while providing the added advantage of being cost-free.      

Difference between Desktop Publishing and Word Processing

Though often interchangeably used, desktop publishing and word publishing are dissimilar. While word processing concerns the creating, editing, and printing text documents, desktop publishing covers the entire gamut of options - graphical, text, and imagery on a page layout to suit all three.   

The types of documents created also vary. While desktop publishing helps develop a variety of documents ranging from guides to sales brochures (all of which can include a reasonably high amount of graphics), word processors can only create forms with a text focus viz., memos, manuscripts, letters, etc. Examples of word processors include the Microsoft Text Editor and Word, the latter having a few functions synonymous with some of the best desktop publishing software. QuarkXPress and VivaDesigner are examples of desktop publishing software. 

Word Processors are also considerably easy to use due to a lack of graphical impetus within documents. Many laypeople use word processors for generating their desired text-only documents. There is, however, considerable expertise required in the field of desktop publishing due to its wide array of functionality, especially concerning the entire design process. DTP software relies on the perfect combination of graphical elements designed onto a page where the display of text and images is equal. It requires creative vision, technical design know-how, and time-bound delivery.      

Factors affecting the growth of Desktop Publishing Software

Despite rapid gains made in the market, online DTP tools face acceptance and implementation are intricately dependent on a set of factors. They are as follows - 

  • Cost
  • Implementation Model (Cloud or Onsite)
  • Feature set 
  • Customer Service and Support
  • Versioning 
  • Sharing and Collaboration
  • Security and Information Encryption
  • Third-Party Integrations and Added Functionality
  • Mobile Support  
  • Scalability and User Capacity    

Features of Desktop Publishing Software

Desktop publishing includes selecting a document format and inserting necessary information on it on a computer. It consists of critical functions involved in creating the perfect document for multiple purposes. Some of the most important features of desktop publishing software are as follows -

DTP Software Features

Advantages of Desktop Publishing Software

There are numerous advantages associated with desktop publishing software. The most important ones are as follows -

DTP Software Benefits

Now, that we have read about the most important facets and impacts of Desktop publishing tools, it is time to take a look at the best free and open Source desktop publishing software. 

Top Free and Open Source Desktop Publishing Software

Comparing the Best DTP Software

#1 Scribus

It is a free and open source desktop publishing software, supported on over 13 operating systems, not just limited to macOS, Windows, and Linux. Scribus boasts of a vector drawing tool, supports multiple file types, and supports over 200 colors in its palette. Scribus was also one of the world’s first software to support the PDF/X-3 format conversion. The latest version of one of the world’s most popular DTP tools is V1.5.5.

Scribus Demo

Source - Scribus

The essential features of Scribus are as follows - 

  • Data Storage and Encryption in an XML format
  • Colour Management
  • PDF Export
  • Text Tools 
  • Graphic Tools
  • Printing Management
  • Layout Tools   
  • Professional Publishing 
  • Photo Editing
  • Multi-template Support 

#2 WordPress

One of the world’s most well renowned free and open source desktop publishing software, WordPress prides itself on being one of the most simple to use offerings in the segment, helping users focus on the creative tasks ahead. WordPress is a free and open source content management system as well that runs on PHP and MySQL. The software supports thousands of third-party integrations, and over 30 percent of the world’s top 10 million websites by traffic operates on the desktop publishing tool’s platform. WordPress believes it can help everyday people publish personal and professional content effortlessly, with the right customization.

WordPress Demo

Source - WordPress 

Some essential features of WordPress are as follows - 

  •  Text Tools 
  • Graphic Tools
  • Professional Publishing
  • Sharing Tools
  • Photo Editing
  • Themes and Template Support
  • User Management
  • In-built Comments Section 
  • Third-Party application integrations

#3 Janeway Systems

The DTP tool is a free and open source desktop publishing software, which exclusively helps publish scholarly and academic articles. The DTP tool supports the entire publishing process - right from submission to review and publication. The device itself results from work at the Centre of Technology and Publishing at Birbeck, University of London. The projects achieve the goals of the Open Library of Humanities. Janeway operates on the Django Framework (1.11 LTS) while created with Python (v3.5). The online DTP software provides two unique hosting solutions - Press Hosting and Shared Hosting. The latest version is v1.3 Doctor.

Janeway Demo

Source - Janeway 

The key features of Janeway are as follows - 

  • Text Tools 
  • Printing 
  • Sharing 
  • Professional Publishing
  • Layout Tools
  • Templates
  • User Administration 
  • Third-Party Integrations and Plug-ins
  • Preprint Server 

#4 Scalar 

Scalar is a free and open source desktop publishing software. It allows bloggers and journal authors - primarily in research and scholarly fields - to assemble different media types from multiple sources and deploy it effectively in their blog, with minimal technical expertise. A project of the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture (ANVC), partnered with Vectors and IML, the open source desktop publishing software provides digital tools for writers to implement recursive, nested, and non-linear text works. The online DTP tool prides itself on being “born digital”, and offering users the right amount of flexibility and structure within their content while also implementing easy data models.

Scalar Demo

Source - Scalar

Some critical features of Scalar include -

  • Text Tools
  • Graphic Tools
  • Professional Publishing
  • Layout Tools
  • Sharing
  • Templates
  • Third-Party Integrations
  • Annotations
  • Built-in Visualizations 

#5 Apache OpenOffice 

One of the world’s most popular free and open source desktop publishing software, Apache OpenOffice, provides functionality for spreadsheets, presentations, databases, and more besides just desktop publishing service. The free desktop publishing software stores all data in an international open standard format while finding implementation in various businesses - from governments and educational institutions to non-profit organizations. The Desktop publishing app runs on the Apache 2.0 License, with the latest being Version 4.1.7. It is the first software in the world to use OASIS OpenDocument Format as its file type.

Apache OpenOffice Demo

Source - Apache OpenOffice

Some key features of Apache OpenOffice are: 

  • Text Tools
  • Graphic Tools
  • Professional Publishing
  • Layout Tools
  • Sharing
  • Templates
  • Math, Impress Functions 
  • Third-party integrations  

#6 Lucidpress

A free desktop publishing software, Lucidpress deploys a drag-and-drop layout interface that makes it easy to create documents of various types. Created in 2014, the DTP application software offers bespoke solutions to companies and individuals alike, serving multiple industries - from healthcare and non-profit to Real Estate. It is useful in crafting and publishing engaging booklets, flyers, magazines, among other types.

LucidPress

Source - Lucidpress

The key features of Lucidpress are as follows - 

  • Text Tools
  • Graphic Tools
  • Professional Publishing
  • Layout Tools
  • Sharing
  • Templates 

#7 Adobe

One from Adobe’s reliable, stable, desktop publishing software focuses on interactive online publications rich in media (videos and graphics). With a rich domain history to call on, Adobe’s InDesign, Spark, and XD suites offer best in class desktop publishing solutions to customers. Adobe’s complete Creative Cloud offering is platform-independent and runs on macOS, Windows, and Linux.

Adobe demo

Source - Adobe Desktop Publishing 

Some essential features of Adobe desktop publishing software include - 

  • Graphic Tools 
  • Layout Tools
  • Photo Editing 
  • Printing
  • Professional Publishing
  • Sharing 
  • Templates
  • Text Tools
  • Third-party Application Integration

Options such as PrintMaster, PageStream, and iStudio Publisher prove their mettle in an increasingly competitive desktop publishing software or DTP application software market. Their features are offered at industry standard and their pricing models are affordable too. However, one software remains at the forefront of cutting edge publishing, and that is Microsoft Publisher. Let’s take a closer look at this popular desktop publishing application software.   

Microsoft Desktop Publisher 

Microsoft Desktop Publisher is one of the most popular Desktop Publishing software. At the heart of Microsoft’s foray into desktop publishing is the feature replete Desktop Publisher. Created for individuals and organizations alike, the desktop publishing tool comes from Microsoft’s 365 subscription set. The software is integrated with the entire Microsoft Office ecosystem, making data sharing more accessible. It finds use in schools and small businesses alike. Signing up for the online desktop publishing software also entails the buyer for One TB of online data storage and a host of collaborative meeting tools free for download.

Microsoft Desktop Publisher

Source - Microsoft Publisher

The key features of Microsoft Desktop Publisher are as follows - 

  • Graphic Tools 
  • Layout Tools
  • Photo Editing 
  • Printing
  • Professional Publishing
  • Sharing 
  • Templates
  • Text Tools 

Conclusion

Desktop publishing solutions will keep growing in importance, especially with contributing factors like mobile traffic, and visual appeal in the different information dissipation formats. Whatsmore, businesses and individual contributors can respond faster to client requests for DTP solutions and offer various graphical improvements to standard documents. 

Check out iCalamus,  iBooks Author, and Crello. They can be some of the best alternative solutions in the market. Also, be sure to read our Buyers Guide for Desktop Publishing Software

If you have used any of the software as mentioned above in this blog, please feel free to give us your feedback. Leave your opinion on the article in our comments section below. 

Get the best out of your search for ideal business software by referring to our exceptionally inclusive Software Directory.

         

 


 

Jason Adams
Jason Adams

Jason Adams is a writer with a keen interest to continue learning and develop his research abilities. An avid reader and an eye towards growth, he is associated with GoodFirms, a frontline, and evolving reviews and rating platform.

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