Writing Apps 9 min2024-02-29 00:00

8 Best Desktop Publishing Software

desktop publishing software

Desktop publishing software allows you to create and design books, poems, magazines, documents, flyers, and more. The best publishing software makes this formatting process quick and easy.

There are many great desktop publishing software on the market, and they vary vastly in terms of price, features, security, and usability. So it’s difficult to know which one is best.

To help you decide, we have assessed the top eight most popular software for publishers. For each tool, we have looked at the integrations, the pricing, features available, and the overall usability.

List of the Best Desktop Publishing Software

Adobe InDesign

First on this list is Adobe, one of the most well-known desktop publishing software. It offers features to help users lay out and publish physical books and e-books, online magazines, brochures, posters, and PDFs.

There are a variety of features, including cloud documents, graphics support, and a Google Analytics integration.

A brilliant new feature is “Auto Style,” which detects headers, body sections, images, and more when you copy and paste in plain text. This automation is a game changer for saving time.

Integrations: Online and apps for Mac and Windows.

Price: You can purchase InDesign via monthly or yearly payments. Both plans offer the same features. Monthly costs $22.99 and yearly costs $263.88.

Conclusion: Although it’s certainly not the cheapest option, it’s reliable and has the key features required to format almost any document.

Affinity Publisher 2

Affinity Publisher is part of a trio of tools, including Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo. Each tool is priced separately, but they integrate, and with them all, you can take any piece from ideation to completion.

Affinity Publisher is an advanced tool that goes through regular updates. The most recent update cleaned up the user interface and added a few more options to automate tasks that used to be manual.

One standout feature is the tool's interface, which offers a high level of customization. You can select dark mode, add your own keyboard shortcuts and tool panels, and edit the UI to your preference.

Integrations: Affinity Designer and Affinity Photo.

Price: You can buy Affinity Publisher for macOS interface, Windows, or iPad. macOS and Windows cost $69.99 as a one-off payment. The iPad version costs $18.49. Alternatively, you can buy a bundle of Designer, Photo, and Publisher for $164.99.

Conclusion: The one-off payment makes this tool really affordable, although it doesn’t have all the advanced features more well-known tools like Adobe have.

Microsoft Publisher

Microsoft Publisher is part of the Microsoft package, and you cannot purchase it as a stand-alone tool.

The interface is very similar to other Microsoft products, making it easy to use for people who already use Word.

The platform comes with a selection of templates, including newsletters, posters, and cards. There are also preset color palettes, which help designers ensure consistency across their work.

Integrations: PC only.

Price: Microsoft Publisher comes with the Microsoft package, and it has two pricing options: business and personal. Alternatively, you can buy it as a stand-alone app for $159.99.

Conclusion: Although Microsoft Publisher is a useful add-on for small businesses, publishers, and individuals, it’s very basic and lacks the advanced functionality a designer or a larger business would require.


Atticus is a writing app and desktop publishing software created by Kindlepreneur. It works online and offline and helps with writing style and formatting.

The writing feature is a word processor with a few novel-specific features, such as chapters and covers.

The formatting feature is where Atticus really shines. There are templates and a custom theme builder you can use to format your book, and then you can publish on Amazon, Apple Books, and more.

Integrations: Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chromebook.

Price: There is only one plan available, and it’s a lifetime plan. It costs $147 as a one-time fee to format an unlimited number of e-books and books for print.

Conclusion: Atticus is one of those tools that’s good already but will clearly be great in the future. It’s an affordable way to format your book, but for now, you will still need some complementary writing tools in order to give your story the best chance.


Scribus is an open-source software designed for creating magazines, adverts, brochures, and more.

It’s highly customizable because you start with a blank page, and you can place elements, like text and imagery, anywhere on the page. You can also add your own fonts and colors, which is important as the tool understandably only comes with open-source options.

Users can import their book in bulk or in chapters, and they can achieve almost any design with the tool.

Integrations: Linux, macOS, Windows, Solaris, Haiku, and more.

Price: Completely free.

Conclusion: It is not regularly updated, and it’s not the most user-friendly piece of software, but it has hundreds of features, and it is miles above any other free option on the market today.


QuarkXPress is a desktop publishing software that is designed for all types of print and digital content.

It has four categories of features: page layout, graphics and illustrations, photo editing, and digital publishing.

There are local image libraries, a variety of export options, integrated Google Fonts, and more. Additionally, for book formatting, it has a feature called Digital Flip Book, which replicates the look of a turning page.

Integrations: macOS Ventura.

Price: There are two pricing options: an annual subscription and a perpetual license. The annual subscription costs $259 per year and gives you all upgrades and updates. The perpetual license costs $559 and gives you all upgrades for a year. If you would like future upgrades, you need to pay $299 yearly.

Conclusion: It’s a popular option for book formatting because you can complete every step of the design process in one place. However, it doesn’t have the more advanced artistic features you may need to create marketing materials.


Vellum is a book-formatting desktop app, designed for writing projects, available on Mac only.

It offers import capabilities, different book styles, book set creation, previews, layout and design options, e-book generation, and print generation.

The most popular features in Vellum are the eight book styles. All you need to do is select a style, and the software will change the headings, quotations, paragraph breaks, body text headers, footers, and more.

Integrations: Mac.

Price: There are two plans: Press and Ebooks. With the Ebooks plan, you can format e-books, and with the Press plan, you can format e-books and paperbacks. Both plans are a one-time purchase.

Conclusion: Although it is an intuitive software solution at an affordable price, there are other tools that offer more for less.

Xara Page & Layout Designer

Xara Page & Layout Designer comes with a word processor and an image editor.

There’s a selection of text formatting options, including font, color, bullet points, size, orientation, and more. Additionally, there are style templates that are free to use, meaning you can quickly create things like magazines, professional newsletters, ads, and business cards.

The feature-rich tool also comes with a spellchecker, although it doesn’t have style, grammar, and advanced checks that a tool like ProWritingAid does.

Integrations: Mac, iPad, and Android.

Price: There are two plans for desktop publishing: Designer Pro+ and Cloud Pro+. The Designer Pro+ plan costs $14.99 per month and is for single users. The Cloud Pro+ plan costs $16.99 per month and is also for single users. This plan includes everything in Designer Pro+, plus an integration with Xara Cloud and the ability to collaborate.

Conclusion: Xara is a brilliant tool for the price, and it’s really easy to use, but it has fewer templates, assets, and features than other similar tools.

Why ProWritingAid Is a Great Addition for Your Publishing Toolkit

The best desktop publishing software makes it possible for indie writers to do it all, from ideation to publication.

But formatting your book is the last step. There are hundreds of steps before that, including writing, structural editing, line editing, and proofreading.

ProWritingAid is one of the best options to help writers with the line editing and proofreading steps. Perfect your text, correct errors, improve your readability, and rephrase complex sentences before formatting your book.

With ProWritingAid, you get access to over 20 reports, which will help you take your draft to a publication-ready state. Each report provides specific, actionable suggestions for improving your writing. Here are a few of the popular ones:

Writing Style Report: highlights areas of your text that a copyeditor would tell you to revise, including the passive voice, overuse of adverbs, repeated sentence starts, and more

Grammar Report: uses an advanced AI to catch grammar and punctuation mistakes, as well as misused words such as “adverse” vs “averse”

Contextual Thesaurus Report: enables you to explore a wide variety of synonyms for each given term

Sentence Length Report: makes sure you’re employing a variety of sentence lengths to engage the reader rather than using too many long or short sentences

Clichés and Redundancies Report: picks up on tired phrases and sentences so you can find fresh ways to express your ideas

Author Comparison: allows you to compare your writing with that of well-known authors

Transition Report: looks for transitional phrases like “similarly,” “nevertheless,” and “as a result” to make sure you’re utilizing the best transitions to lead your reader through your writing

Plagiarism Report: verifies that you have properly cited any material you have used by comparing your work to over a billion web pages and articles

How to Choose the Best Desktop Publishing Software for You

The best desktop publishing software for you depends on the type of content you are trying to publish, how much you need to publish, how much time you have, what integrations you need, and what your skill set is.

So, before committing to any software, ask yourself these six questions:

  • What is your budget? This is the most important consideration because you don’t want to learn and become familiar with a tool that is too expensive to maintain long-term.

  • What type of content do you work with? Do you exclusively need to format your book, or do you also need to create marketing materials?

  • How much content do you work with? Are you a part-time user, or is designing your full-time job? This affects the complexity of features you will need.

  • How much time do you have to learn a new tool? Some of these tools are fairly intuitive, and others will take weeks to learn.

  • What integrations would be useful? Would you like to work online, or would you prefer an app? Are there specific file formats, import, or export options you need?

  • How familiar are you with design tools? Have you used any design tools before? Sometimes it is worth paying a little more to buy a tool you're already familiar with.

And that’s it. Just remember that you should always run your words through a grammar and style checker first, like ProWritingAid, to ensure you are not incorporating errors into your design.

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