Serif’s PagePlus package is one of the stalwarts of the home DTP market and while it continues to be overlooked by professionals, Adobe InDesign and QuarkXpress are still dominant forces; but this latest addition has plenty to offer the home or small office user.

The layout and interface has been changed from previous versions and while it’s not a dramatic departure, you’ll find it easier to find items. The toolbars are more flexible, allowing you to edit them, so you can link your favourite tools together. Shortcuts are now customisable, so you can speed up the way you work.

However, it is array of new features that Serif are hoping will attract new users, or at least force those who already use PagePlus to upgrade to the latest version.

It’s not all about new features as you’ll find many of the core dependences have been updated and improved. The way PagePlus handles text formatting, for instance, has been updated, so text boxes are easier to edit. There is also support for Word 2007 in this edition, so you’ll be able to import and edit text using the latest MS plug-ins. What’s more, if you own other Serif titles, the new Metafiles will make it easier to share formatted data between them.

When it comes to getting the best from your images on the page, the new Image Cutout Studio does a great job of allowing you to transpose images from one background on to another. This tool really feels as though you’re using a more powerful package. In use, we found it incredibly easy to get good results.

Then there is the Logo designer, which allows you to take an image and add text and formatting to make it a more rounded idea. Images and text are kept separate, so you don’t need to keep it as an integrated image, which is a nice touch as it means you can personalise logos, for instance.

Table formatting has also been overhauled, with some interesting results. PDF exporting is another area we saw improvements in. Not only will you find it easy to get good results but you’ll also be able to edit the PDF file with ease.

When it comes to getting your final pages ready for print, the new Packages application draws all your fonts and images together in one place. This feature is something we’ve seen in high-end suites but it’s the first time it’s made an appearance in such a mainstream product.

The ease of use of PagePlus is one of the package’s true strengths. Serif has always added plenty of value to its offerings with a host of tutorials and in-depth manual for first-time users to get to grips with, and this package is no exception.

Price when reviewed:

Will Serif PagePlus X3 have the professional studios knocking down the company doors to get a copy of this? We think not, but then again from our experience with the suite of tools, these are not the intended audience. The home user and small business will now find PagePlus a far more compelling choice, as it makes easy work of page layouts and formatting.