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We review Microsoft Publisher, compare it against alternatives and even summarise other reviews to give you the fullest range of opinions possible. The only review of this graphics package you will ever need!

Microsoft Publisher is a desktop publishing software that allows users to create various types of documents such as brochures, flyers, newsletters, business cards, and more. It is a great choice if you’re looking for a versatile desktop publishing software that can help you create professional-looking documents with ease.

What Microsoft Publisher can do

Template Library: With Microsoft Publisher, you get access to a range of pre-designed templates that you can customise according to your needs. This can save you time and effort, especially if you’re new to design.

Page Layout Tools: The software provides a variety of tools to help you create and edit page layouts. You can use text boxes, image placeholders, and guides to adjust the size, colour, and style of text and images.

Typography: Microsoft Publisher gives you a range of font options and formatting tools to help you create visually appealing text. You can add drop caps, change line spacing, and adjust letter spacing to make your documents look more professional.

Graphics and Images: You can easily insert and edit images and graphics into your documents with Microsoft Publisher. The software includes tools for cropping, resizing, and adjusting the brightness and contrast of images.

Print and Export Options: Microsoft Publisher allows you to save your documents in a variety of formats, including PDF and HTML. You can also choose to print your documents at home or at a professional printing service.

The main strengths and weaknesses of Microsoft Publisher vs. alternatives

In comparison to alternative apps, such as Adobe InDesign and Canva, Microsoft Publisher has a more user-friendly interface and a lower learning curve. However, it falls short in terms of advanced design features and compatibility with other operating systems.

  • Adobe InDesign is known for its advanced design capabilities and compatibility with both Windows and Mac, but it can be more challenging for novice users to master.
  • Canva, a cloud-based design tool, has a similar user-friendly interface as Publisher and offers more design templates but lacks advanced features and customizability options.

Ultimately, we think Publisher is an easy to use, good performer for beginners, dabblers and people who only do design as a part of their main job.

Some of the main strengths that lovers of Microsoft Publisher often mention include:

User-Friendly Interface: Microsoft Publisher is usually praised for its intuitive and user-friendly interface that makes it easy to create professional-looking designs without prior experience. IF you know how to use other Microsoft software you can pretty much bumble your way through it – something you certainly can’t do with Photoshop or any of the other professional design packages.

Template Library: The software comes with a vast library of pre-designed templates that you can customise. This feature saves time and effort if you’re not experienced in design.

Integration with Microsoft Office: Publisher seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft Office applications such as Word and Excel, so it’s easy to import data and content from these apps.

Typography Tools: Publisher provides a range of typography tools to create visually appealing text with various fonts, sizes, colours, and styles. Several of the alternative “lightweight” design packages fall short when it comes to typography options, so this feature is a major selling point for Publisher.

On the other hand, the main reported gripes about Microsoft Publisher include:

Limited Compatibility: Publisher is only available on Windows, so it’s not available for Mac and Linux users. We think this is no big deal, because Mac users are traditionally the serious designers who wouldn’t consider Publisher anyway.

Limited Collaboration Features: The software does not have robust collaboration features, making it difficult for multiple users to work on the same file simultaneously. We’ve tried using it with two people in one file and the computers had a nervous breakdown: graphics are memory heavy, so we weren’t surprised. In defence of Publisher, we would add that too many cooks spoil the broth, so who wants to design as a team anyway?

The review of reviews

We’ve looked at some professional reviews of Microsoft Publisher to see what they say, and compared them to user reviews on

Public reviews on Software Advice

Software Advice reviewers mostly echo our own opinions, that Publisher product is a great, easy-to us solution if you’re not an expert and the way it integrates with the whole Microsoft universe is very convenient if you’re a Microsoft organisation. The negatives tend to focus either on very specific little niggles, or the limited advanced features for more skilled users.

TechRadar review

TechRadar reviewer Darcy French gives MS Publisher 3 stars out of five, although user reviews on the site are more enthusiastic, giving it 4 stars.

She comments:

‘To help ensure your designs look professional, Publisher provides a vast range of pre-set colour palettes. This ensures consistency across your documents and makes it easy to develop a distinctive brand for your personal or business documents….The Design Checker feature will ensure your document will display or print precisely how you want it to. This can save you significant time and money in case of misprints and helps ensure your business maintains a reputation for high-quality and consistent designs.’

She also highlights its simple interface and in-built user support:

‘If you are familiar with other Microsoft 365 apps, then you will find the Publisher layout familiar and the learning curve gradual. Most settings are displayed at the top of the screen, and drop-down boxes make it easy to choose between large numbers of colours and fonts. One of Microsoft’s greatest strengths is its support options.… In our experience, Microsoft’s online support teams are highly responsive, engaged, and knowledgeable.’

She does, however, mention worries that Microsoft doesn’t publicise the package much and seems to have “abandoned” it.

Her ultimate conclusion?

“…It isn’t as powerful as competitor platforms such as Adobe InDesign, the gold standard in desktop publishing software. We therefore worry that Publisher occupies an awkward middle ground between advanced DTP packages such as InDesign and entry-level products such as Microsoft Word or Xara Page & Layout Designer. Professionals are likely to bypass Publisher for InDesign, and amateurs will likely be satisfied with Microsoft Word or Xara. It leaves Publisher in no-man’s land.”

The Overall Conclusion

Our overall conclusion? If you’re a beginner at document and graphic design, and a PC user with Microsoft as your working environment, you can’t go wrong with MS Publisher.

If you’re a more advanced graphic designer, or a Mac user, you will find it limiting and probably want something more aimed at the expert user.

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