Serif – PagePlus 6.0 review

document publishing for all
Photo of Serif – PagePlus 6.0
£99.95

Serif PagePlus 6.0 is a publishing tool for the home or business. The program has many design shortcuts for the amateur or professional user and excels at making complicated tasks look easy. Despite this, it comes at a fraction of the cost of most high-end DTP packages such as the ubiquitous Quark XPress.

The software has a user-friendly interface that talks you through most major operations using tutorials. This latest version claims to have 1,300 new wizards or pre-designed templates (we didn’t test that claim). These can be used to create online and print publications including brochures, newsletters, posters, compliment slips, invitations and greetings cards. There are also plain templates, if you’re feeling particularly inspired and want to start from scratch.

The user can navigate around the program using a ‘studio bar’ in the main editing screen. This provides access to the colour schemes gallery, fonts and line settings on the same toolbar. Changes can be made to text, colour and lines simply by dragging and dropping from the controls menu. This improvement has been taken directly from Serif DrawPlus 4 and is a welcome addition to the program.

A variety of new features are present, including auto positioning, where a wizard will automatically position greetings or business cards on the page and work out the best way of laying out documents for printing. The program also allows the user to work on several documents at the same time, while another tool makes it easy to design folded stationery.

WritePlus is the program’s word processor and allows the user to edit and create text using over 400 fonts. It is a pretty basic integrated word processing package, but it includes a spill-chucker (sorry), thesaurus and search and replace function as standard. Text and graphics can be personalised by using a shaped frame tool that transforms frames from boring squares to slightly more interesting triangles, stars and speech bubbles.

The package provides all the basic layout tools you would expect from a quality image manipulation suite. These include movable rulers and guides, text wrap and formatting and a table editor. Graphics can be rotated, cropped, watermarked and recoloured. A photo optimising feature will allow you to improve the quality of colour or greyscale photographs, but this package should not really be used as a photo editing program.

The suite now supports HTML 4.0, making it simple to add Javascript and HTML code, plus sound and video, to Web pages. The upgrade to version 4 claims to improve download speeds by re-using images rather than creating separate ones, but that’s something that even a half-witted Web designer would do anyway. The Web page wizard does take some of the strain out of page design, though, and also offers a direct link to additional clipart online.

Company: Serif

Contact: 0800 376 4848


Verdict
With its new and improved features, PagePlus 6.0 is good value for money, designer friendly and comes bundled with 9 CDROMs containing clipart and photographs. It doesn't have some of the advanced features of the established names in this market, but what would you expect for this price?