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Thursday, 22 May 2008

DTP software at a pocket friendly price

Most experienced science writers know that you need a professional designer to see their work into print. But there are times when you want to get an idea of how something you are working on will turn out. Then there are those freelance jobs that are too small, or the client too mean, to stump up the cost of a designer. Finally, of course, some ABSW members can rightly claim to be professional designers.

For longer than I care to remember, I have used a package called PagePlus for simple DTP. (It also does complicated, but that is where I insists on calling in a professional.) A new press release, Serif Launches PagePlus X3, heralds the arrival of yet another version of this package.

Over the years, I haven't pounded the software to death (see above), but I have used it often enough to know that it is easier to use than most. I particularly liked it when they added PDF output to the repertoire of things that PagePlus can work with.

At one time Microsoft also dabbled in the "bottom end" of the DTP market. But it seems to have given up on that and has upped the price of its DTP package which now comes in at twice the price of PagePlus.

One of the interesting things about PagePlus is that it is "made in the UK". The company that produces it, Serif, has been around since 1986.

Another point in Serif's favour is that the free versions of some of their packages. They will even let you buy older versions. And once you own Serif's stuff, their upgrade deals are attractive. That's just as well because they churn out new versions regularly.

Serif also does software for web design and handling photos. Put these together and you have the makings of a reasonable design package.