Desktop Publishing Software: Advantages and Disadvantages.
August 10, 2009 2:14 PM   Subscribe

What software should be used for creating/designing a leaflet or book? Why? Also, is there an industry standard desktop publishing software? (InDesign, QuarkXPress?)

For example, if making a leaflet my first impulse would be to make a template in Photoshop or similar and do everything using that. Is there a disadvantage related to doing this instead of using a desktop publishing software?
posted by Memo to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Photoshop will create everything as a bitmap - Quark /InDesign will print vectors. Crisper typography will result.
posted by laukf at 2:40 PM on August 10, 2009

InDesign is the standard. QuarkXPress is also very common.
posted by ocherdraco at 3:03 PM on August 10, 2009

if you create everything in PS you will have a massive file in terms of bytesize, and as laukf pointed out, bitmapping will degrade the typography. prep your images in photoshop, do your layout in ID or Quark, both are widely supported, I think InDesign is more user-friendly for those with less experience. Whichever you you decide to use for your layout, export to PDF. That is your industry standard, a print-ready PDF file. If you're prepping this for print, be sure to create all color as CMYK, not RGB, and export your PDF with bleed if the design calls for it.
posted by ashabanapal at 3:06 PM on August 10, 2009

As the name implies, Photoshop is for photos. Type created in p-shop will become pixelated and the edges anti-aliased. Also if you are using 300 dpi resolution for higher quality, a letter-size flyer would be a huge file MB-wise.

You could use Illustrator for small brochures or leaflets, but if you are doing anything book-like, you need to use a page layout program – Quark or Indesign.

InDesign has edged by Quark as the desktop standard. The last Quark upgrade (8.0) has been adopted by very few designers.
posted by malchick at 3:08 PM on August 10, 2009

If this is something you're doing in a professional capacity, your first choice should be Indesign, followed by QXD. Photoshop is a fine, fine program, but it's ill-suited to typesetting and layout.
posted by lekvar at 3:08 PM on August 10, 2009

In Quark and InDesign, you can have tons of pages with threaded text that automatically flows through your document. Typesetting in Photoshop is a nightmare, in my opinion. There are many other reasons why you wouldn't want to do this in Photoshop, but that's the main one.
posted by chelseagirl at 3:10 PM on August 10, 2009

Oh, and on a side note, a recent version of Photoshop will not bitmap your text when you save your doc as a PDF, as long as you haven't flattened the layers.
posted by chelseagirl at 3:12 PM on August 10, 2009

Actually, to address a couple of statements above, PS can do vectors (type and graphic elements) if the file is prepped and saved correctly. Both the PS EPS and PDF formats can retain vector information for printing.

I just thought I'd set that straight.

You should still use InDesign or Quark though.
posted by lekvar at 3:12 PM on August 10, 2009

One more photoshop warning. Photoshop defaults to rich black which depending on your printing process can result in blurry type or outright rejection from your printer.
posted by travis08 at 4:34 PM on August 10, 2009

Another reason to use InDesign is its ability to recover documents if the software crashes.. which in my experience, is very few and far between -- the same cannot be said for Photoshop. Not sure what version this was implemented in, however.

And templates [master pages].

I haven't used Quark in years, so I'm not sure how it compares on these fronts.. but InDesign is pretty user-friendly/intuitive if you have even the most basic of word processing software experience and once you get to know it, it is incredibly powerful.
posted by june made him a gemini at 7:05 PM on August 10, 2009

This in no way the "industry standard" - I'd say that InDesign holds that title clearly.

But, if you don't want to drop a ton of cash on a desktop publishing software, I feel obligated to point out the open source application, Scribus.
posted by Xoebe at 7:14 PM on August 10, 2009

Type created in p-shop will become pixelated and the edges anti-aliased.

Actually, the edges become aliased, which is pretty much the same thing as pixelated. Anti-aliasing is removing the "jaggies" that occur when an edge is aliased.
posted by owtytrof at 8:24 AM on August 11, 2009

Don't arrange a lot of text in Photoshop. You'd be surprised how helpful a desktop publishing app's spell-check, find/replace, text-flow, and style sheets can be.

Adobe PageMaker works in a pinch if you can get it. InDesign (which Adobe created to replace PageMaker) has far more bells and whistles. But PageMaker also a far lower price, because Adobe is now marketing it to school yearbooks and things like that.

Anything's better than doing a lot of text in a raster program like Photoshop. Except maybe Microsoft's entry in that market, the abominable Publisher.
posted by Matt Arnold at 8:59 AM on August 11, 2009

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