Free desktop publishing software for Windows

  1. These free programs have powerful publishing capabilities
  2. scribe
  3. What do we like?
  4. What we don’t like
  5. inkscape
  6. What do we like?
  7. What we don’t like
  8. GIMP
  9. What do we like?
  10. What we don’t like

These free programs have powerful publishing capabilities

Many free desktop publishing software downloads are special utilities. They’re good for specific work like lettering or business cards, but they’re not comprehensive page design tools. However, some free Windows programs have powerful publishing capabilities, including page layout, vector graphics, and image editing programs.


What do we like?

  • Familiar interface for Adobe InDesign and QuarkXpress users.

  • Available for Windows, Linux, MacOS, BSD and Unix.

  • The drawing tools are more capable than many other similar programs.

What we don’t like

  • No spell check.

  • Steep learning curve for beginners in graphics programs.

  • No support for InDesign and QuarkXpress file formats.

Scribus is free desktop publishing software with many of the features of professional suites. Scribus provides CMYK support, font embedding and subsetting, PDF creation, EPS import/export, basic drawing tools, and other professional features. Scribus works similarly to Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress with text frames, floating palettes, and drop-down menus — and without the hefty price tag. As free as it is, this may not be the software you need if you have no experience with desktop publishing software and don’t want to take the time to master the learning curve.

After downloading the free Scribus software, check out these Scribus tutorials.


What do we like?

  • In features similar to Adobe Illustrator.

  • Intuitive interface, especially for those familiar with Illustrator.

  • Works on Windows, MacOS and Linux.

What we don’t like

  • May work with errors when working with other file formats.

  • The documentation is not as organized as it could be.

  • More keyboard shortcuts would be helpful.

Inkscape, a popular free and open source vector drawing program, uses the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format. Use Inkscape to create text and image compositions, including business cards, book covers, flyers, and advertisements. Inkscape is similar in features to Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW. It is a graphics program that is more flexible than a bitmap photo program for many desktop publishing page layout tasks.

Once you’ve downloaded Inkscape, learn how to use it for desktop publishing with these Inkscape tutorials.


What do we like?

  • Similar in function to Adobe Photoshop.

  • Lots of community support.

  • Compatible with Photoshop plugins.

What we don’t like

  • More focused on creating and editing single images.

  • Steep learning curve.

  • Runs slow sometimes.

The GNU Image Management Program (GIMP) is a popular free alternative to Photoshop and other open source photo editing programs. GIMP is a raster photo editor, so it’s not great for text-intensive design or anything with multiple pages, but it’s a great free addition to your collection of desktop publishing software.

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