Microsoft Publisher is often peoples’ go-to program when they want to create brochures and other printed presentations. Unfortunately, many users feel as though its usability could be greatly improved, particularly for beginner designers.

If you find creating printed material with Publisher a little too complex, there are alternatives available that might make your creation process a little easier.

Here are four great alternatives to Microsoft Publisher if you're looking to make a switch.

PagePlus Starter Edition

PagePlus Starter Edition is a free tool that lets you create dynamic marketing materials like stationary, posters, brochures, flyers, newsletters and business cards, to name a few. With a handy pop-up that lets you pick and choose what you want to create, PagePlus is pretty intuitive for beginners. If you don't want to start from scratch, or if you need some ideas to get your creativity flowing, the program comes with a good variety of ready-made templates. Even better, PagePlus supports a drag and drop design method, making it a breeze to move around different content quickly during the creation process.

The Starter Edition of PagePlus is free upon registration on Serif’s website. After registering, you will be sent a product registration key via email, but remember, not all of the pay-for features will be available to you.


If you’re looking for an open source alternative to Microsoft Publisher, Scribus is one good option. Scribus is a free desktop publishing tool that works cross-platform, which makes it convenient for people who like to hop between multiple computers and operating systems. Scribus offers a lot of great features, such as the ability to export and import PDF documents, as well as drag and drop designs. Formatting can be a little tricky in some instances though, and some scripting knowledge is required to access a few of the features.

Apache OpenOffice

Formerly known as OpenOffice.org, Apache OpenOffice is another open source alternative to Publisher. Instead of one program to make your creations with, OpenOffice comes with five. You can create content as text documents, using the presentation app, or with the drawing program. For people who like variety, OpenOffice is a really great way to explore how more than one app within an office suite can create customizable content exactly to your specifications.

Adobe InDesign

If you want every option known to man and one of the most professional publishing tools available, Adobe InDesign is unquestionably the program to go with. It comes with extensive tutorials and documentation, as well as great integration with other Adobe products. If you’re familiar with other Adobe apps, InDesign has a similar interface and should be relatively easy to navigate. If this is your first time using an Adobe product though, InDesign might present a rather steep learning curve. Since it’s a part of Adobe's Creative Cloud suite, however, this professional app comes with a monthly subscription fee.


Article updated 04/22/14


  • cleuza |

    por blog mutimidia do qeep net no celula

  • SoftwareFan |

    Another great alternative is to convert Microsoft Publisher to Adobe InDesign with Pub2ID. You can also search, edit, extract and publish Adobe InDesign text with PageZephyr.

  • mdv |

    Viva Designer

  • Ran Kaibo |
    Ran Kaibo

    I found 'starter edition' Page Plus to be pretty useless. Too many options are blocked to be entitled 'free software.' Personally I despise any download that sprouts the word 'free' when it is nothing but a con to pay up! Probably good if you want a program to dominate your homepage though.

  • Jim |

    Using Scribus for several years; just keeps getting better!

    Viva la FOSS!

  • R A Jamison |
    R A Jamison

    I found a program (http://www.flyerscreator.com) that lets you create flyers, brochures, and business flyers. It has over one hundred templates and allows you to use your own art. It allows you to create QR and MS Tags. I found it much easier to use than Publisher and Photoshop.

  • Jack |

    Pageplus is not that intuitive, especially if you have been using one of the older programs such as Pagemaker which is far superior even now. Adobe bought Pagemaker from Aldus and then screwed it up to try to make it work like Quarkexpress and called it Indesign, a complicated mess. Pagemaker is still the best, especially the older versions up to 6.5.

  • hwaymack |

    As someone who like to have complete control over all elements of the creative/design process, I prefer InDesign. That being said, the price tag is painful to choke down whenever I upgrade.

  • Alan Zisman |
    Alan Zisman

    I personally found it really difficult to get started with Scribus. One big issue for long-time MS Pub users: none of the listed alternatives are able to open saved MS Pub documents. Hardly any software can! One big exception - Libre Office ver 4 or later. All versions - Mac, Linux, Windows, etc can now open MS Pub documents with reasonable accuracy.

  • Deon Huysamen |
    Deon Huysamen

    Have tried unsuccessfully to download Pageplus SE on numerous occasions. Am satisfied it is just a trick to get on their website so they can harvest your info. All their explanations to date stinks and smacks of an underdeveloped 6 year old intelligence. Will never try or support SERIF ever again.

  • Philip |

    I have used MS Publisher, Pagemaker 6.5 and InDesign CS5.

    I create manuals up to 100 pages with lots of photos.

    I am now reformatting them from InDesign to Publisher, so its easier for my translators in different countries to buy and use, and there are many things Publisher is better at!

    I had one manual with about 80 photos, and had boxes around the photos that keep moving, depending on the screen size you are looking at. I sometimes spent hours getting the boxes exact.

    Publisher makes a frame around the photo, as part of the photo.

    If the photo is too dark I can edit in publisher, in fact I can change ALL the photos on a page, even making them grayscale all at once, and making them brighter all at once.

    I can copy a page and paste it exactly in Publisher.

    In the very early days of Publisher there was a problem with the quality of photos placed in Publisher - not any more, I have used Publisher 2007 and 2013 (2007 is easier).

  • guest |

    page plus isn't even free!

  • Romi |

    For years I used Microsoft Picture It! Does not work with Windows 8. Is there something comparable to it?

  • Linda Szymanski |
    Linda Szymanski

    I have used publisher for over 10 years for just about anything you can imagine. It is highly flexible and easy to manipulate without going to classes and without spending hundreds of dollars. i have created retail labels, professional advertising postcards, just about anything you can imagine and word art is a great tool to get a special look that just takes seconds to create. My PC hard drive crashed two weeks ago with tons of work on it in Publisher. I had it all backed up of course but bought a new Mac computer knowing publisher would not translate but hoping I could find a reasonable alternative and perhaps just recreate some of my work on it. That was a dream That is turned into a nightmare. I was told Pages would work for me, but it doesn't even begin to compare to the flexibility and ease I got from publisher. In Design is way too complicated and expensive it's like buying a Ferrari to drive to the grocery store. Microsoft needs to write Publisher for the MAC. Simple easy and they would sell a ton of them! My only solution is to now run between two computers - a PC that runs publisher and my beautiful new Mac that runs everything else.

  • Paul |

    Also looking for an alternative and found that the open source LibraOffice v4 can open and edit Publisher files.

    It doesn't have the same flexibility as publisher in creating the files, but at least it lets you get at previously made files if you don't have publisher anymore.

    Libre office works on Windows, Linux and Macs

  • Sandy |

    Linda, look into Parallels Desktop for the MAC. It allows you to run windows on your MAC so you can load Windows programs. There is another program that allows you to do it as well but I can't remember the name.

  • Amanda |

    I have been using MSPub since about 2000, latest version I've used is 2007. One or two things have changed a little over the years but it has always stayed pretty easy to put together all sorts of different types of documents.

    I no longer have MSOffice at work and have been looking for an alternative to open up my .pub files but I can see this isn't going to be easy :(

  • TenBlinkers |

    Scribus is more full-featured than Publisher, runs on virtually any O/S, and it's FREE. Can't beat it.

  • Tim.D.Latimer |

    I've been using Microsoft Publisher since 1994 and taught myself how to operate it to "near" expert level. I currently have Pub 2007 on a separate laptop running Windows Vista. Vista allows me access to the web and doesn't make me update my OS or Apps. Once MS Office got greedy, I've had to rely on whichever alternates I could acquire, but primarily rely on Publisher 2007 for all my graphic work. I had hoped that with a new PC, the version of MS Office provided would be full and complete, but was sadly disappointed. I must rely on commuting back and forth between an old laptop for graphic work and my latest desktop system for Windows 8 and all other programs I utilize. Until I can pay for a newer version of MS Publisher once and be able to update it to a newer version at no additional cost, I'm sorry, but I won't be upgrading any time in the near future. I used to swear by MS Office and recommended it to everyone I knew, not anymore.

  • catherineadamslee |

    I'm with all of you. I loved Pagemaker but went over to Publisher when Adobe got rid of it. Wrote a whole book with pictures in MSPub 2003. Now forced to get rid of my beloved XP is was soooo disappointed to see Office didn't contain Pub and have to buy it separately.

    Here's a little trick I'm using until then. I open a PDF of the book in whatever best reader (Adobe, MS's weird Nitro) and cut and paste text into Word. You have to make sure you don't have security on the file and, of course, it only works for amending or copying from an existing doc, not creating.

  • David Thomson |
    David Thomson

    Sadly, Microsoft broke Publisher on my machine with its last series of updates. I can no longer scroll away from selected objects or text; if I move it outside the window, the window re-centers on it. Extremely frustrating, and neither a reinstall of Office nor a system restore, have helped. Others have reported this problem with previous versions of Office and Windows. It's truly a fatal flaw, with no help from MS forthcoming.

    I did not like the Scribus interface, but it looks as though it's the only option for a little non-profit.

  • David Thomson |
    David Thomson

    Unfortunately MS just broke Publisher--on my machine, at least. With it's latest updates it altered Publisher's behavior so that it's no longer possible to move selected objects or text outside of the window. They have to be deselected first. Not only is the lack of freedom to view the page enough to make you crazy, it breaks some functionality (the style paintbrush, for instance). Reinstall and system restore don't help.

    So I'm looking for an alternative. I hated Scribus's interface, but it looks like the only alternative for a small non-profit.

  • David Thomson |
    David Thomson

    Sorry about the double post. The message didn't show up after I registered.

  • HarryHovel |

    Reading these comments, it sounds like none of the pamphlet-making programs is very good. Some people liked a particular program that others disliked. Microsoft Publisher seems to be generally disliked. I made pamphlets with an old version but am trying to decide whether to buy one for my Windows 8 computer. Nothing sounds as good as the old Publisher version I used to use.

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