Best DTP software 2019: top desktop publishing apps

DTP software
Image credit: Pixabay
(Image credit: Pixabay)

Desktop Publishing (DTP) software allows you to create newsletters, magazines, and brochures simply and easily, by controlling the layout and design of documents.

The specific advantage DTP has over normal document programs is that it allows for the proper alignment of images and text according to guidelines and boxes that you set up.

This often involves setting up a grid in which you can place blocks of text, or images, as required. Because you have full control over size, spacing, and widths, this makes it much easier to ensure everything is in its proper place, which is especially important for printing purposes.

Even better is that DTP software tends to be easy to use, and options to format text will be familiar from most writing programs for documents. Changing background and font colors is easy, as is inserting images and resizing them to the dimensions you need them to follow.

The end result is the ability to create professional-looking documents without needing to be a skilled or experiencing graphic designer.

Here we'll look at the best in DTP software currently on the market.

  • Want your company or services to be added to this buyer’s guide? Please email your request to [email protected] with the URL of the buying guide in the subject line.

Adobe InDesign

Image credit: Adobe

(Image credit: Adobe)

1. Adobe InDesign

The best DTP software for professionals

Operating system: Windows, macOS | Features: Support for digital magazines and eBooks, collaboration tools, automatic resize, Creative Cloud

Powerful
Loads of great features
Can be confusing for beginners
Pricey

If you're serious about making professional publications and marketing material, then you'll want the software that most professionals use: Adobe InDesign

This software is our pick for the best DTP software for professionals, and there's a reason why so many businesses use it. It is practically unrivalled when it comes to features, giving you all the tools you need to create traditional print media, as well as interactive digital media as well. 

If you buy it as part of Adobe's Creative Cloud, you'll also get access to Adobe Stock, giving you professional stock photos to help make your publications really stand out.

Scribus

Image credit: TechRadar

(Image credit: Scribus)

2. Scribus

The best free DTP software

Operating system: Windows, macOS, Linux, OpenBSD | Features: CMYK colors, spot colors, ICC color management, PDF creation

Free
Good selection of features
Interface is a bit dated
Takes time to master

If you're after real desktop publishing power, free of charge, then nothing can compete with Scribus, and it's our pick for the best free DTP software. 

It's an open source application, which means it's completely free for anyone to use, and you don't need a licence to use it as a business. 

The program is packed with professional features - CMYK and spot colours, ICC colour management, direct editing of vector drawings, extensive PDF support and more - and provides everything you need to produce flyers, brochures, newspapers, books and more.

All this power does take quite some time to master, though, and while the developers have tried to help (and there is plenty of documentation to point you in the right direction) you'll need to be patient: the sheer volume of features means there's still a significant learning curve.

Quark Xpress

Image credit: Quark

(Image credit: Quark )

3. QuarkXPress 2018

The best alternative DTP software to InDesign

Operating system: Windows, macOS | Features: Typography features, InDesign IDML Import, PDF editing, Android app creation

Large amount of features
Supports InDesign files
Expensive

While Adobe InDesign is the undisputed champion when it comes to DTP software, it has stiff competition from one of its most popular alternatives: QuarkXPress

It comes with a huge amount of features to rival InDesign, and it's even compatible with InDesign files. Quark is serious about winning over Adobe's customers, and it's resulted in an excellent, fully-featured DTP application. 

It is especially impressive when it comes to typography, with OpenType controls, support for Colour Fonts in SVG, SBIX and COLR formats, and it will help you make some amazing looking publications. It's not quite as fully-featured as InDesign, but it comes very close.

Xara Page & Layout Designer

Image credit: Magix

(Image credit: Xara )

4. Xara Page & Layout Designer 11

The best DTP software for beginners

Operating system: Windows | Features: Advanced text handling, royalty-free templates, web publishing, PDF creation, professional color and commercial printing

Easy to use interface
Affordable
Not the largest collection of features
No Mac version

If you're a beginner when it comes to desktop publishing, then the software above may seem a little overwhelming at first. That's why Xara Page & Layout Designer 11 is our pick for the best DTP software for beginners. 

It doesn't throw a bewildering amount of features at you, and it has a straightforward, yet attractive, interface that is easy to get to grips with. Best of all, it's very affordable compared to InDesign and QuarkXPress, but that doesn't mean it's light on features. 

In fact, you'll find a great selection of tools that will help you create professional looking publications.

Microsoft Publisher

Image credit: TechRadar

(Image credit: Microsoft)

5. Microsoft Publisher 2019

Another good DTP application for beginners

Operating system: Windows | Features: Precise layouts, large collection of templates, traditional and digital publishing, Office 365 support

Easy to use
Decent price
Limited fonts
Not the widest selection of features

Microsoft Publisher has been around for a long time now, and for many people it offers an easy way to get into desktop publishing. 

It's often a part of Microsoft Office packages – including Microsoft's Office 365 subscription service – so if you already have a Microsoft Office package, you may find you have Publisher already installed. It can also be bought and installed separately as Publisher 2019. 

Its interface will be familiar to anyone who has used Microsoft's other Office apps like Word and Excel, and it's easy for beginners to get to grips with. There's a decent collection of templates that will help you get going, and the results are good, though not quite as professional as InDesign. 

Still, it's a great – and affordable – DTP software package for beginners.