InDesign alternative: 5 recommended publishing programs

InDesign alternative: 5 recommended publishing programs

Looking for an alternative to Adobe InDesign? In our overview you will find five publishing programs that work on Mac and Windows and are sometimes even free.

Free: Scribus

scribus publishing

Free of charge and still a full-fledged DTP program: Scribus. Image: © Scribus 2021

Can a Free Publishing Program Be Any Good? Yes it can. Scribus is the best example of this. The open source program can handle most bitmap formats, whether from Adobe or not. An extensive tool catalog is also included, which enables the production of professional publications.

In addition, the software is actively developed and receives regular updates and new functions. The catch: As with other extensive programs, it takes time for beginners to find their way around the Scribus universe. However, there are numerous tutorials online that help you get started with the software.

Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux and other operating systems

Price: Free

Beginner-friendly: LucidPress

LucidPress is freemium software. The basic package of the publishing program is therefore free of charge, but fees are due for advanced options and expert tools. In addition, only three documents can be created with a free account. After that, a paid subscription must be taken out in order to continue working.

A special feature of LucidPress: The application does not require a download. Users simply log into LucidPress in their browser and can then use all the functions of the publishing program. The tool is also well suited for newbies, as many functions can be used by drag-and-drop. As a result, however, the software is less recommended for publishing veterans; experienced users perceive the simple controls as an obstacle.

Platform: browser app

Price: Freemium / subscription from 10 euros per month

High-end DTP: VivaDesigner


VivaDesigner is suitable for the production of professional publications. Image: © Viva 2021

VivaDesigner can also be used completely in the browser, and a full version of the program is also available for download. VivaDesigner positions itself as a direct competitor to InDesign and QuarkXPress. The functions are correspondingly extensive – professional work is no problem with the software.

Practical: The free demo version of the desktop publishing software offers the full range of functions of the full version. VivaDesigner advertises that it is easy to understand despite the many functions. The design of the user interface looks tidy and less intimidating than that of other programs.

Platform: Windows, Mac, Linux and all browsers

Price: Free demo version / full version from 129 euros (one-time)

Inexpensive: Affinity Publisher

affinity publisher

Affinity Publisher offers extensive tools for comparatively little money. Image: © Serif 2021

Affinity Publisher is also a professional DTP program that is available without a subscription model and at a low price: the download costs just 55 euros.

For the price, the software offers extensive functions: online publications can be created with Affinity Publisher as well as printed material. The program masters all common raster and vector file formats, and it can also be operated with the common DTP keyboard shortcuts. Retraining is therefore not necessary. And if there is a problem, integrated video tutorials will help.

Platform: Windows and Mac

Price: Free demo version / full version for 55 euros (one-time)

With subscription: QuarkXPress

QuarkXPress can easily compete with InDesign. In terms of functionality and user interface, the two publishing programs are in no way inferior. However, the costs for the DTP software are correspondingly high. The purchase also includes a so-called "Advantage" subscription, which gives users access to software updates and exclusive member features.

After all: the license is not tied to the subscription. After one year, users can forego renewing their subscription and still use QuarkXPress. However, you will then no longer receive any new updates or functions. A free demo version is available for download to try out.

Platform: Windows and Mac

Price: Free demo version / full version from 474 euros (including one year "Advantage" subscription free)

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