Page layout software?
March 15, 2005 8:02 AM   Subscribe

Any recommendations for inexpensive, effective page layout software?

I'm looking for something that will work better than Word for brochures/catalogs, and isn't as expensive as Quark or InDesign. It can be XP or OS X- preferably XP. Hopefully, it would cost under $100.

Any nice programs out there that I should know about?
posted by wezelboy to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
Apple iWork's Pages?

I know some people who use Powerpoint for page layout work. I use it to do CD liner notes on the quick. It does the job for small documents.
posted by AlexReynolds at 8:08 AM on March 15, 2005

I haven't used it for layout-type stuff, but I know that Open Office is a pretty full-featured MS-Office-esque suite of applications. I know it's got a drawing app that, coupled with the word processor, may be able to do some above-rudimentary layout...and it's free!
posted by tpl1212 at 8:09 AM on March 15, 2005

How are you printing your final product? Traditional offset or something more akin to a laser printer? If it's the latter, you should really check out Apple's iWork, specifically Pages. It has a very shallow learning curve and packs a surprising amount of power behind its interface. I wouldn't want to try to use the files for offset, but for small, low-budget/low-end projects, it might be exactly what you need.

You might also want to check out Stone Studio I've never personally used it, but have heard quite a bit of good things.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:10 AM on March 15, 2005

MS Publisher isn't too bad.
posted by lobstah at 8:12 AM on March 15, 2005

lobstah - don't make me cry.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:16 AM on March 15, 2005

OpenOffice is good for the price (free). The layout -- eh, it's not bad, it's just not the friendliest layout program in the world. I recommend Pages if you have a Mac, for sure.
posted by inksyndicate at 8:20 AM on March 15, 2005

Scribus appears to be able to be installed on Mac and Windows as well as Linux.
posted by stuartmm at 8:21 AM on March 15, 2005

Mine works fine for simple stuff ...granted, it's just for little brochures or flyers. I knew some bashing would result from my comment...glad you were up to the task :D
posted by lobstah at 8:26 AM on March 15, 2005

Lobstah - no bashing, just past nightmares from personal experience. "No we cannot go direct to press from your Publisher 1.0 file".
posted by nathan_teske at 8:34 AM on March 15, 2005

I guess the catalog comment may have rendered Publisher ineligible...I have InDesign too, but for little one page jobs I sometimes use it was easy to teach to my wife, who makes homemade flyers all the time.
posted by lobstah at 8:39 AM on March 15, 2005

I had a problem just the other day, where Publisher 2003 wouldn't open a file (any file) made with any other version of Publisher. Oh, and no other program that I can find could open the .pub files, either. They just haven't worked that part out yet, I guess.
posted by fake at 8:56 AM on March 15, 2005

Publisher for simple stuff.

InDesign for high-end stuff, if you can afford it.

Ragtime for high-end stuff, free for personal or non-profit use.
posted by exhilaration at 9:16 AM on March 15, 2005

OpenOffice sucks for this. Scribus shows promise but was unusably crappy and crash-prone last time I used it. I like Serif PagePlus — it's about $120 or so, I think, and does most everything you need, and although it's rather obscure it generates a variety of PDF sub-formats, including PDF/X, so you generally don't have too much of a problem dealing with printers.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:24 AM on March 15, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers everybody! This definitely gives me something to work with.
posted by wezelboy at 11:08 AM on March 15, 2005

Corel Ventura for long-document structured documents. It'll also do one-pagers and artsy stuff with aplomb, but it workhorse specialty is long-document. It's an even match for Framemaker, but with a much better UI IMO, and some important features FM misses.

I've heard OK things about Ragtime/Scribus.

You can also do XML and XSL:FO, and render to PDF using FOP or (better yet) RenderX XEP.

Oh, hey, I just noticed the cataloging bit of your question. Go with Ventura, without a doubt. It has a database publishing component that has yet to be matched by any other layout software. It is the most amazing thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:45 PM on March 15, 2005

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