Print design, web page design, typography, infographics, typesetting – you name it, and InDesign is useful for it. Brought to you by Adobe, it is the software with which most layout design professionals will have been acquainted.
You can use InDesign to make templates for newspaper pages, magazine pages, posters, brochures, etc. and you can even design your own, personalised projects.
Other apps do exist to create personal projects, but few which have the amount of flexibility in the placement of content, margins, etc., that InDesign offers. Now, the problem that a lot of users face with InDesign, as such, is its inflexibility in other spheres.
An example of its inflexibility would be that InDesign is only available for desktop computers or laptops, making it somewhat inaccessible for many who are more inclined to work on tablets and other devices.
Aside from this, InDesign is also towards the more expensive side of things. These limitations of this design app pave the way to look out for InDesign Alternatives.
In this article, we will provide you with a list of several possible InDesign alternatives. This is so that even if InDesign is not as accessible to you, you do not miss out on any designing opportunities.
After all, you may just be an app away from living out all your dreams of designing, and no limitations should stop you there.
Best InDesign Alternatives: Our Top Pick 👌👌
In the following list, you will find about 8 of the best InDesign alternatives to suit your fancy. Each of these apps listed below has its own distinctive features for content and layout design.
You can use these apps to either develop your design skills or use your existing skills to create something beautiful – all that matters is the aptest combination of you and the app which you choose.
1. Scribus: Best Free InDesign Alternatives
Scribus (Download Here) is a fantastic InDesign alternative, as an open-source desktop publishing software, and typesetting and layout design software.
It is a brilliant alternative to InDesign because both software’s features match each other closely, and they are both great for creating attractive and even interactive PDFs or documents for print or online publishing.
Here are a few features of Scribus that will probably attract you to it more.
1. The app is about sixteen years old, but has been in constant developments and gets regular updates to keep up with user requirements.
2. To create stunning documents on Scribus, you work with frames for each object you would like to place on your slate. With each frame put together, you create a cumulative set of frames, i.e., the design of your document.
3. To add in text to the document, you can add a text frame, inside which you can type out your text and customise it to whichever font, colour, size, etc. that you wish.
4. You can add image frames to insert photographs – to which you can add various effects, adjust its transparency/ opacity, add a stroke (border), etc.
5. There are also separate frames for other graphics, including lines, shapes, and other comprehensive graphic diagrams like pie charts and graphs.
6. Scribus has the feature with which you can work with layers – where one frame can be inserted on top of another, or below another. You can resize and move around frames as per what looks good to you.
7. You can add your own fonts to the pre-existing fonts on the app itself.
8. This app offers professional publishing elements such as that related to colours. It has spot colouring, CMYK colours, and the option of colour separations.
9. If you have some experience with InDesign, you will find it easy to use. If not, that’s alright as well, because the developers offer comprehensive tutorials for beginners.
10. Scribus is totally free of cost!
Aside from being an excellent app for design in itself, Scribus has but one major downside – this is that you cannot use files from other DTP software’s on Scribus, unfortunately.
Thus, the only difficulty with the app is that you cannot edit other files on it unless they have been created with Scribus itself.
QuarkXpress is one of the leading software for desktop publishing and has been in action since quite some time – even before InDesign. In this case, we may say that before it became an InDesign alternative, InDesign was its alternative.
Developed by Quark, the software has some ridiculously awesome features, and here is a list of them all. QuarkXpress provides its users with not only the basic functionality of typesetting, i.e. fonts, spacing, alignment, etc. but also with several other more detailed features.
QuarkXpress supports the editing of various file formats, including Adobe formats such as those of Photoshop (.psd) and Illustrator (.ai).
You can insert objects into the document by adding boxes – text boxes, and graphics boxes. These boxes can be moved around to create the perfect document with positioning as you’d want it.
Users get complete colour control, which is why the app is perfect for producing prints that work well for print along with digital publishing. It allows Pantone or Hexachrome inks for printing, where CMYK films can be produced for printing.
Aside from this, there is a preview before printing so as to avoid document errors that show up in the printing process.
The app converts to PDF formats as well as PostScript, and for web page features, i.e., HTML/XHTML.
The software has a feature called composition zones, which is an excellent tool for collaborative work. It allows for multi-user capabilities in order to make sure that users can edit different zones of a page at one time.
The app is compatible with industry-standard word processing apps such as Microsoft Word and contains the appropriate filters for transferring Word text (and that of other formats).
It supports 12 languages for the user interface and over 30 languages for hyphenation and other similar features.
Track changes are enabled on the app through the use of redlining. Users can also see the edit history, i.e. track changes, of the document, and who made which changes.
QuarkXpress offers plans (advantages, as the website, calls them) for 1, 2 and 3 years, for $395, $625, and with a 50%, $625, respectively.
The software also offers separate student plans for $95, $150, and $205, respectively.
There are also special prices for nonprofit organisations, educational institutions, government bodies, etc.
3. Affinity Publisher: Best InDesign Alternative For Mac
Affinity Publisher (Download Here) is a desktop publishing app that you can download on both PCs as well as the Mac. Overall, it is the most useful for editing books, but can be used to create all other kinds of print or online documents.
It is in direct competition with Adobe, not only in context with InDesign but also other Adobe products, namely Illustrator and Photoshop.
Affinity has three namely ‘personas’ that come together to create it: the Publisher, Designer, and Photo. The three are totally integrated when you download all of them and work well to give to you the ultimate experience in design and publishing.
Here are some of the features of Affinity:-
1. If you know your way around InDesign, Affinity is super simple to get around, because the features, including the user interface, are very similar with the difference being that they are named differently. If you don’t, there are dozens of tutorials to help you get started.
2. If you have Adobe files that await completion, you need not worry, because Affinity supports .idml (InDesign), .ai (Illustrator), and even .psd (Photoshop) files.
3. There are tonnes of character styles, paragraphs, and object styles that are already available on the app, but you can also add your own or customise the pre-existing ones. You can also buy more fonts if you require a specific font, straight from Affinity.
4. There is a specific feature which proves excellent for being able to decide fonts better – after selecting the text, if you open the drop-down menu for fonts, it shows a preview of how the selected text looks with each font as you hover over it.
This makes selecting fonts less time-consuming because you simply see how it looks without applying it.
5. As compared to InDesign’s line, rectangle, and ellipses, Affinity Publisher has many shape drawing tools, including the dialogue, heart, pie, fallout, and various forms of the star.
6. Affinity Publisher has smart master pages, indexing, and an automatic table of contents.
7. Easy switching between Publisher, Designer, and Photo, which makes your process of production faster and simpler.
8. The price for this app is just brilliant – a one-time purchase of $150 for the set of all three ‘personas.’ It is hard to say no to something like this, which has some great features for an affordable price, isn’t that right?
Here is yet another desktop publishing software package, and InDesign alternative, which has been in existence for a few decades now. Created by Grasshopper LLC, PageStream earlier went by the name Publishing Partner when it was first released circa 1986.
It is one of the top typesetting and about design software, and offers some incredible features for the same. This is accompanied by the fact that PageStream is direly inexpensive and highly affordable for everyone, including the updates. It can be used
Here are some features of PageStream:-
This software is compatible with most operating systems, including Linux, Amiga OS, Windows, and Macintosh OS X.
The navigator is what’s responsible for providing one-click access to any feature on the app. It makes using the software more comfortable and faster, and for this reason, is especially great for new users.
The toolbox has not only the basic typing and selection tools necessary for designing, but also various drawing and editing tools, including the photo crop tool, reshape tool, and pen and freehand tools. It also offers several object manipulation tools to use on the text as well as images.
The software is such that you need not necessarily use text frames to insert text to your document – you can simply click anywhere and start typing to create text blocks. There is precision typography enabled in the software, for minimal rotation of objects among other features.
The different palettes allow for the user to work with more ease:-
- Document palettes allow you to divide documents into chapters, sections, etc., complete with pagination as well as chapter numbering.
- Page palettes allow you to arrange your pages in the way you want – it helps with the visual arrangement of your document.
- Script palettes allow you to save or record and playback scripts as per your choosing.
PageStream provides users with in-platform layout aids, including several minutes but necessary features such as doing math within text boxes, measurements in 11 different measurement systems, etc.
Documents can be created to be printed in top quality. You can command a printout directly from the app, in odd/even form, discontinuous page ranges, thumbnail printing, you name it.
You can first download the demo version of PageStream to see if you like it, and then go on to purchase it if you do. It comes at a one-time payment of $99, but with additional updates which are priced at $20 each.
Lucidpress is the ultimate design software for anyone looking to make the switch from Adobe InDesign to another similar model.
Whether you are an individual looking to take on personal or freelance projects, a group of people looking to collaborate with each other on a project, or are a business looking for large scale content production, Lucidpress is the place to go.
Here are some of the features of Lucidpress to get you hooked!
You can select one of the three packages provided by the website for the aforementioned – Lucidpress itself calls the same ‘content creation to scale.’ While there are many common benefits, here are some of the major perks of the different kinds of subscriptions.
For individuals: this has features that only the individual creator would require.
For teams: a lot of times, working with teams becomes difficult due to the lack of coordination and communication. Lucidpress provides real-time collaboration between team members, which includes creating and co-owning templates, collaborative editing, and an in-app chat box for communication.
For businesses: with features to import existing files and converting them into customisable templates, collaboration in business becomes more effortless. These templates are accessible to everyone, through data integration, in the particular business to create matching content efficiently.
There are tonnes of templates available in the Lucidpress gallery, making it rather simple to begin your creative process and get you going.
Templates that you yourself create from scratch, for the individual, or for the organisation/team you’re working with are lockable templates and can be saved to use for other projects.
Having in-platform chat boxes not only makes it easier to collaborate amongst members, but it also makes the process of getting feedback on your work much less time-consuming.
Supports different file formats, including in documents (InDesign files).
Lucidpress is a web-based platform, which means that it is accessible from anywhere. This further makes for ease and efficiency of use.
You can join either the free or pro version of Lucidpress.
- The individual pro account comes for $3 per month, with custom fonts and document analytical.
- The account for teams comes in a pack of either 3, 5, or 10 users, for $36, $60, or $120 per month, respectively, with team management and the previously mentioned collaborative features.
- Business accounts come as per requirements, which you can find out by getting in touch with Lucidpress here.
- The app also offers special pricing for educational use and for nonprofit use.
Click here to join Lucidpress free, pro, or pro teams.
Spring Publisher is yet another great software to typesetting and layout design, with many features to help you design things like business cards, posters, flyers, labels, letterheads, and even postcards.
It is a good InDesign alternative if you are looking for something which is simpler to understand. It has a good number of great features, but slightly fewer than those of InDesign – but the available features are incredibly useful and help you create wondrous print documents.
Here are some of the features of Spring Publisher:-
1. On Spring Publisher, the user can add various kinds of objects and can arrange them in any which way. The objects that are insertable in the document are images, text, logos, vector shapes, and even barcodes and QR codes.
2. You, as a user, will have the option to use all kinds of effects on images that you insert, such as filters, image borders, various available effects, etc. The software also allows you to adjust the opacity/transparency of the images.
3. There are plenty of high-quality templates available and ready for use in the Spring Publisher template store. This enables faster creation of designs that already look good.
4. Spring Publisher generates high-quality artwork with incredible resolution. The maximum output of the same is 350dpi, for some more information about the same.
5. Using Spring Publisher, you’ll find it rather simple to take printouts of your artwork, where the documents produced will look whether you get them professionally printed, or even on your personal printer at home. This is the courtesy of the software support of Avery and Printworks micro perforated paper.
While Spring Publisher is a fantastic app for producing small prints, such as postcards and business cards, it is also compatible with producing PDFs.
Spring Publisher supports CMYK and RGB colour spaces, which is a useful tool for digital publishing.
About downloading Spring Publisher: It is available for download for Windows operating systems only.
- Downloading the software is entirely free of cost!
- If you wish to avail some pro features of the app, you can upgrade to Spring Publisher pro as well.
7. Xara Page & Layout Designer
Xara is a developer known for creating Xara Page & Layout Designer, as well as the Xara Image and Graphic Designer. The page and layout designer by the developer is the DTP which we will be looking at today as an InDesign alternative.
There are several features of Xara that make it stand out amongst the list of the alternatives to InDesign. Here is a list containing some of them.
1. Keeping in mind that text is the most important part of typography and typesetting, Xara offers advanced text handling, which includes highly flexible and comprehensive features to ensure that your text serves the purpose you wish it to serve.
2. The text need not be inserted as part of a text frame, but can directly be inserted into the document by merely clicking and typing at the point where the text is required to be placed.
3. You can choose out of 600+ fonts to customise your text and other customisable features, as mentioned below.
4. Complete control over text, where you can create bulleted or numbered lists, indents, tabs, superscripts, subscripts, colours, including transparency/opacity of text, 3D text, etc.
5. The next thing we focus on after text is its placement in the pages created. Xara calls their page editing features an intuitive page layout, which includes several great features.
6. Xara provides royalty-free templates that make the life of the designer much easier. It reduces the amount of time it takes to design things, and is limitless, meaning that you may use these templates without worrying about when they’ll run out.
7. Automatic text wrap is a rather convenient page layout tool. The concept of automatic text wrap or “flowing text” in Xara’s words is incredibly useful if having to deal with text wrapping gives you headaches. The text will automatically flow around the object when you place it somewhere on the document where there’s text closeby.
8. The Xara magic snap tool is helpful for aligning various objects, such as text, images, graphics, etc., perfectly. It selects the corners of different objects and provides you with it as a useful tool to dock lines together. This not only helps with alignment but also with accurate spacing.
9. The software has a gallery where you can sort and manage all the documents you have created with Xara. It also enables the user to pick up things from one document and even add them to another.
10. Xara uses professional colour spaces and is compatible even with commercial printing. This includes CMYK, Pantone, and HSV colour libraries.
11. The software supports a variety of file formats, including .gif, .jpeg, .bmp, .png, .tiff, .psd, .pdf, .emf, .wmf, and .svg formats for graphics and vectors. It also supports the import and export of doc and docx Word files, and Rich Text Format (RTF) files.
12. Xara also has its Image & Graphic Designer integrated with the Page & Layout Designer, so that you can include stunning visuals.
Web publishing is super easy via Xara, which has a format called a “Supersite,” which integrates endless scrolling, perfect for the digital publishing world.
The final feature of this DTP is definitely the one which helps a user most with print – the Xara publisher is so precise that there are barely any inconsistencies when you compare the printed document to the digital document on your computer.
8. Microsoft Office Publisher
Here we have a simple and easy to use publisher brought out by Microsoft. It enables a quick compilation of newsletters, banners, posters, labels, and so much more.
Microsoft Office Publisher helps create the most stunning typographic layout designs using simple tools easily for print as well as online publishing and sharing via email.
Here are some of the stand-out features of Microsoft Publisher.
- There are plenty of templates from which to choose the kind of document that you wish to create, which adds for clarity and ease of use, and even a faster production process.
- There are multiple sharing options directly on the app, including creating an email as an HTML from the document you’ve produced or to send the document as an attachment for others to see using mail merging tools.
- You can import images for your documents using online albums which exist on different websites, including Facebook and Flickr.
- Microsoft Publisher is available for the desktop only but supports both mobile and online types for publishing.
- There is easy integration of the Microsoft Publisher app with all the other Microsoft Office apps, such as MS Word, MS PowerPoint, MS Excel, MS Access, and others.
This brilliant software is available for everybody, with their customised plans for all kinds of users. While you can make a one-time purchase for $109.99, Microsoft offers other subscription plans as well, which are as follows.
- Office 365: $69.99 per year
- Personal Office 365: $99.99 per year
- Home Office 365: $8.25 per user, per month
- Business Office 365: $12.50 per user, per month
- Business Premium, which is custom-priced.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What is the purpose of InDesign?
A1. InDesign is an incredibly useful app for people who are into layout design, typography, and even for people who are interested in creating infographics. On this app, one can create various kinds of documents, including but not limited to newspapers, magazines, brochures, newsletters, tabloids, and the like.
Q2. Why look for InDesign alternatives?
A2. InDesign is a brilliant app and has some great tools for design, but its price ranges towards the expensive side of things. There is no harm in looking for alternatives to the app, which are more affordable and probably have the same or similar features as InDesign itself.
Q3. Which are the alternatives to InDesign?
A3. The alternatives to InDesign are Scribus, QuarkXpress, Affinity Publisher, PageStream, Lucidpress, SpringPublisher, Xara Page & Layout Designer, and Microsoft Office Publisher, all of which have their own striking features that make them stand out from each other.
Q4. What do the following terms mean: DTP, typesetting, layout design, and infographics?
A4. A DTP, i.e., a desktop publisher, refers to software that can be used to create page layouts for print or digital publishing.
Typesetting refers to arranging text in a document in a way to make it look presentable for print or online publishing.
The layout design is a form of design where you arrange different objects, such as text and graphics, to look good on a page cumulatively.
Infographics refer to a graphical representation of facts using a combination of visuals and text.
We hope that this article has been as comprehensive for you as we wish it to be. Hopefully, by reading everything mentioned above, you have an idea about all the fantastic InDesign alternatives and the great features that they offer.
From the list, the best thing to do is to check out the apps which have the features that you require most for the type of documents that you would or would like to be designing.
For example, if you wish to create materials for print, make sure to go with software that is more wired towards print design. On the other hand, if you wish to publish digitally, go for the software which is more inclined towards that.
There are a lot of features on InDesign that are also on its substitute apps. There are also some that aren’t – so, do make your choice after comprehensively reading through! We hope this article has been helpful to you.