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Word vs. Publisher: Which is the Best for Desktop Publishing?

Word vs. Publisher: Which is best for Desktop Publishing?

Both of Microsoft’s program, Word and Publisher, have become indispensable tools for desktop publishers and anyone trying to create an item to print or distribute online. But, the eternal question is, “Which one is better for desktop publishing?”

The short answer is both and neither.

The word for Desktop Publishing

Word is by far the better program for long text documents. For reports and books, Word is much better for text layout. If your project is a very text heavy document, Word will allow you to layout the text much more easily.

  • Reports
  • Books and e-books
  • Articles
  • Newspaper writing
  • These papers
  • Blogs
  • Email and letter creation

While the text is possible and easy in Publisher, the layout of large quantities of text can be problematic. Word allows for easier H1, H2 etc. headings. Inserting basic images isn’t difficult, but the capabilities are limited. Attempting to put in background or texture overlays on images is time-consuming. Also, changes in image placement tend to reformat the entire document.

Consider the following features when you are deciding if Word is the program you should use:

  • Interactive forms including text fields, check boxes, buttons and drop-down menus.
  • Indexes, tables of contents and bookmarks.
  • Create automatic bibliographies.
  • Track changes made by another user and approve or decline those changes on the document.
  • Line numbering, which is critical for legal documents.
  • Restrict access to specific texts.
  • The Workspaces feature allows you to share a document with one or more colleagues with the option to create a task list.
  • Tablet PC ink features allow you to take handwritten notes or markup Word documents.
  • If the document will be localized, Word is your ultimate choice because all CAT tools support it. Publisher files are not supported by most known CAT tools like Trados.

Publisher for Desktop Publishing

The publisher is a desktop publishing app. In fact, in many ways, it’s the most basic form of a function that can become very complex. Publisher’s great strength is its flexibility to add and delete items without changing the entire document. For example, in Word, when you delete a photo, the text will fall into its place. In Publisher, only that item is affected; everything else remains where it is. Manipulation of images and text is much easier.

There is one major caveat: There is no text wrap function. In other words, when you add text around an image, you have to manually make that text wrap around the image. For people used to using Word, this means that you have to create separate text boxes and divide the text to wrap it around an image.

Publisher allows for many more design elements, all independently placed on the document, to be added and moved around. If your document is more image and design-driven, then Publisher is the right choice.

Consider the following features when you are deciding if Publisher is the program you should use:

  • Accurate positioning of text blocks with images, shapes and other design objects.
  • Use the improved Design Checker to identify and fix any printing, web or desktop issues.
  • Advanced support for Pantone and CMYK colors makes Publisher the best for creating designs and documents intended for commercial printing.
  • The enhanced Catalog Merge feature is a feature unique to Publisher, which enables you to merge text and images. This is really helpful in creating datasheets and pricelists.
  • Master design templates to create a cohesive look for all of your company’s publications, including business cards, letterheads and brochures.

Choosing which program to use for your document

As stated above, if your document has a lot of text, then you need to make sure that you use Word. If it contains more images and stylized elements, then Publisher is the right choice.

Of course, the easiest way to decide is not to decide, but to hire a professional design company to do all of the layouts for you. They will look at what you’re trying to accomplish and get it done for you. Desktop publishing services are relatively affordable. In fact, given the time it will take for you to do the work on your own, it’s likely that you will be better off letting someone else do it. Contact us now for more details and get your free quote. 

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