Microsoft – Publisher 2010 review

desktop publishing for home and small business
Photo of Microsoft – Publisher 2010
£91

When Office 2007 was launched, Publisher devotees were disappointed to find their application had been left out of most of the festivities. It had no ribbon, like Word, Excel and Powerpoint and many of its functions were little changed from the 2003 version. Three years on, a goody bag has been brought home for Publisher and it can now go to the ball.

Things look fresh from the off, with a new template selection screen showing off its many pre-made templates. It’s a shame so many of these are for US Letter paper and that they’re all mixed in with the A4 ones, though.

Readjusting to the ribbon interface will probably take longer with Publisher than with Word, as the vertical toolbar down the left-hand side of the screen has also been integrated into it.

Quite a few of the options are also context-sensitive, so Picture, Drawing and Word-Art ribbons only appear when you select a corresponding frame or tool. The editing screen looks cleaner, anyway, as frames and object boundaries only appear when an object is selected. This goes for ruler and margin guides, too.

There’s more room on the editing screen for the page and, once you get used to it, the new interface is generally more convenient. However, page navigation has moved from a little Pagemaker-style row of icons along the bottom of the page to a pane down the left-hand side, which shows thumbnails of pages or spreads. This may be less convenient for regular designers, but will appeal to beginners.

Photo handling has been improved, so you can now crop photos to irregular shapes, add caption panels grouped to the photos and replace existing photos by dragging and dropping. A quick, swap-photo function is also handy, if you have already set placeholders for two images on a page.

Files can be exported as PDF and XPS files, as well as in Publisher’s own PUB format. The new Backstage view gathers together admin info about your document and also offers the Design Checker and Commercial Print information. Publisher supports spot and process colours, as well as RGB colours for typical output.

Web design mode has been removed from Publisher 2010, but there are now many better Web tools available, and you can still edit existing sites created in earlier versions of Publisher. On the system side, there’s now a 64-bit Publisher, which can edit and save files created in both 64-bit and 32-bit versions.

Company: Microsoft

Contact: 0844 800 2400


Verdict
The interface changes are more fundamental in Publisher than in some of the other Office 2010 applications, but once you get used to them, they make the program easier to work with as a beginner. Photo handling has been improved, but we're not convinced all changes are improvements for the more seasoned designer.