I use Word now but I would like to find a better software for laying out a magazine.

In this magazine, I would like to create columns (2 or 3 depending on the page), insert image on 1, 2 or 3 columns (like in a newspaper), independent frames on 1, 2 or 3 columns with text inside, a header and a footer different for the left or right page, etc.

  • 2
    Word is not a desktop publishing program. Word is a word processing program. It is meant for long textual documents with minimal graphics. Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 14:53
  • I certainly agree with "It is meant for long textual documents with minimal graphics" and it is definitely unsuitable for a magazine of any sort. But it is arguably a desktop publishing program of a kind and I have used it successfully in certain contexts.
    – e100
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 11:45
  • Thank you all for recommending Adobe Inline. I have never heard of it before, so imagine my surprise when I found it on my work computer! It must have been installed with the other Adobe programs. I am designing an informational magazine for a project at work and found Word SO frustrating for column layouts (seriously, you delete one comma and you knock off the ENTIRE layout, plus it never really looks as professional as I'd like) and Photoshop too cumbersome (plus I barely know how to use it). So I'm off to try Inline and see what happens!
    – Britt
    Commented Mar 19, 2014 at 21:19

6 Answers 6


In professional design circles, "layout" and "Word" don't generally appear in the same sentence unless accompanied by various expletives unsuitable for a public forum. So it's not hard to get better than that.

What's best for you very much depends on your needs. You're asking professionals for an opinion, and naturally enough we tend to suggest the tools we use. Ask a construction carpenter about power tools and he's likely to recommend Milwaukee or DeWalt, professional tools beyond the needs of a homeowner who only needs to put up a shelf every so often. We're the same way.

A small-circulation freebie such as a church or community group newsletter doesn't necessarily have the budget for a fully professional layout application such as Adobe InDesign (the king of layout programs) as mentioned by Lauren and Scott. If this applies to you, an open source possibility is Scribus -- not the easiest thing to learn, but probably quite adequate. There are budget "homeowner-grade" products such as Print Shop and MS Publisher (the very names send shivers down my spine, but I'm not in your situation). Learning resources are a bit problematic with Print Shop, although the Broderbund website says video tutorials are "coming soon." Microsoft does have tutorials on Publisher, and the latest version, while by no means a professional layout program, has fixed some of the more egregious flaws of its predecessors.

For the highest quality and greatest flexibility, especially if you already use Photoshop for your images, nothing compares with InDesign. The big plus is that on the Adobe TV website, lynda.com and many other places you will find endless and excellent video tutorials to get you from the beginning essentials to a very sophisticated level in quite a short time. It is an industrial-strength application with capabilities far in excess of your immediate needs, but skills learned with InDesign are also quite salable. If you think you might one day want to do this kind of thing professionally, this is where you should start.

And another point that's worth mentioning: it's always much easier to get a professional result using professional tools. They aren't harder to learn, they're just more expensive because they have a great deal more capability than the homeowner versions.

You can always download the trial version of a program, do some tutorials, and know fairly quickly if it will work for you.

  • Love that first paragraph. +1 Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 19:53
  • Umm... Yeah. My tongue got stuck in my cheek, there. :-) Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 23:06

Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress. These are desktop publishing programs, which are designed to do exactly what you want to do (among many other things): lay out printed pieces like a magazine.


Adobe InDesign would be my suggestion.

As the website says:

Adobe® InDesign® CS5.5 software lets you design and preflight engaging page layouts for print or digital distribution with built-in creative tools and precise control over typography. Integrate interactivity, video, and audio for playback on tablets, smartphones, and computers.

Which is what you're after, right?


I include this only in the sense of completeness and as a cheap alternative you may already have. If you have MS Word and by chance have the Office Suite then you may also already have a page layout program called MS Publisher. [At the mention of this program you should hear widows gnashing their teeth and orphans weeping.]

It is my personal opinion that publisher can be used for small projects by people who are familiar with word. Small projects being things like newsletters, flyers, and the like.

MS Publisher can be used to produce magazines, but I strongly recommend that any magazine with a budget which can justify buying either Adobe InDesign or Quark Xpress do so.

As MS Publisher can saved pdf files, most projects can be printed by reasonably intelligent service bureaus.

If you’re talking glossy magazines, it can be done with MS Publisher, but you could also trim you toenails with a sander.

It is possible to use all manner of programs for magazine layout (Adobe Illustrator comes to mind), but page layout programs carry extra features which greatly simplify these types of projects.

  • 1
    you forgot "and wise men rending their clothes." ;) Commented Aug 5, 2011 at 12:49
  • 1
    You bring the sackcloth. I'll bring the ashes.
    – user179700
    Commented Aug 6, 2011 at 2:26

To perform layout tasks I also have to agree, Adobe InDesign will work best for you. If you have specific specs for your design you could try designing for Adobe Photoshop, and then translating your graphics into InDesign. But this would require a bit more work


I am publishing a monthly magazine for more than 5 years now. Corel Draw is the one am using for years (Professionally). Very intuitive software.

  • Welcome to GD! It would be good if you could explain why you think Corel Draw is better for magazine layout, apart from being intuitive.
    – Yisela
    Commented Nov 4, 2012 at 20:37

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.