Serif Pageplus 11 desktop publishing review

Chances are, if you've owned a computer for some time you, are likely to have come across Serif PagePlus at some point. Whether it's for designing a leaflet for the local Scout club or for getting that homemade Christmas card looking just right, PagePlus has always been an easy-to-use DTP (Desktop Publishing Package).

The winning formula for Serif has been to design a package for the home user, if you're serious about design they you're likely to use either InDesign or QuarkExpress as they're the two leading professional packages.

However, in the home you don't need a wide variety of compatibility, just enough tools to get the job done. The one big problem has been when it came to getting your PagePlus files printed as its not compatible with other packages. Those days are now over as the latest version comes with a Wizard that allows you to turn your handy work into a PDF file.

What's more, you can also open PDFs not created in PagePlus without the need to use Adobe Acrobat. This is a big leap forward for PagePlus and opens the package up to a wider number of uses. You'll also find that PagePlus now allows you to import Word and Excel files, so you can create text and edit it for spelling mistakes before you import it onto the page, which can save time and face.

It's not the only addition to the package, as you'll also find an image editor in the form of the Image Adjustments window, which means you won't need a separate photo-editor to correct problems before importing them. Image editing is limited to red-eye removal and resetting the balance and contrast but it's enough for most occasions. If you need a more powerful tool, you can always opt for Serif PhotoPLus, which is available separately.

The package itself has had an interface overhaul. To say that the old style looked basic and almost amateurish is an understatement. Thankfully, a great deal of effort has been put into making the latest version far more intuitive. Most of the basic tasks you're likely to use, such as Colour, Line Opacity have been bolted into the right-hand side of the page and are linked together. The remaining tools in easy reach from along the top of the page, making life less complicated for the beginner but also handy for the more experienced to reach what they need when they need it.

If you need inspiration or simply don't have the time to build a document from scratch, you'll find a CD full of templates and designs that'll cover most occasions. If you're anything like us, you'll use these until you get the hang of creating your own cards and leaflets, as they are easy to load and alter to your needs.

Verdict

Serif has redesigned PagePlus to be much more than a page layout tool, with the addition of editing tools making it more an all-in-one solution that's easy to use at a price that most people won't complain about. However, the ability to export to PDF is the winning ticket here, simply making PagePlus files easier to get professionally printed.