So… you want to create a flyer, or a leaflet. Or a brochure. Or maybe even a book. In this digital day and age, you know you can create one on the computer, and print many copies easily on your own printer, or you can use the softcopy to get them professionally printed. But what do you use to create the document in the first place?

In order to create print documents where you can manipulate the arrangement of the text and graphics easily, you need to use a desktop publishing software. Unlike word processors, desktop publishing software allow you to place text and graphics anywhere on the page easily. You can even wrap the text around the shape of the graphics instead of having them in the conventional text boxes. While some word processors have added these capabilities, manipulation is still easier in desktop publishing software.

In this article, we will be doing a brief comparison between two of the most commonly used desktop publishing software – Adobe Illustrator and Microsoft Publisher.

Adobe Illustrator is developed by Adobe Systems, and is recognised as the leading vector-editing program, although it is also often used as a desktop publishing software. Adobe Illustrator is undoubtedly the leader in vector imaging and graphic design software, and is used for its ability to produced high-quality images and professional documents.

Microsoft Publisher is developed by Microsoft Systems, and is commonly used by many students and offices. It is a much simpler software to use, and comes ready with wizards and templates. It is great for home use as it is easily learnt even by children, and typically produces “cute” documents. This is not to say that it can’t produce professional-looking documents; it depends on the skill of the user, but even so this software has its own set of limitations.

Because they’re both desktop publishing software, they are both able to do the same basic things, i.e. create text boxes and image boxes, wrap the text around the images in different shapes, and place the text and images anywhere on the document.


Both software are great in their own way. Both software have their own limitations as well. There isn’t a solution-fits-all, and there isn’t a perfect software.

To consider what software to use, it depends generally on  three things:

  1. Your budget
  2. Your requirements
  3. Your skill in handling the software


Let’s be honest here – Adobe Illustrator is the far more superior software. But with that superiority comes a price. Adobe Illustrator can cost up to twice the cost of Microsoft Publisher. So think about your requirements and see which software is able to produce what you really need.


Do you need vector imaging? Can you just use a standard template or do you need a customized layout? Do your documents need to look professional or is something simple good enough?

If you are making something close to home like a family newsletter or a missing cat poster, you generally don’t need a highly professional software. But if you are putting together a document that needs to be presented to high-paying investors or to a discerning public eye, then for the sake of your company’s image, you should invest in a software that is able to produce high-quality documents.


Adobe Illustrator is not for the faint-hearted. It is not difficult to learn, but a little bit of time and effort needs to be put in to learning the software. However, once you have mastered the software, you will be amazed at the kind of works you can produce!

Microsoft Publisher on the other hand has no learning curve to speak of. Because it comes ready with wizards, all you need to do is just follow the instructions and click Next; or you can use templates where you modify settings or drag-and-drop items to produce the final result. The problem with this though is that everything will have a very cookie-cutter feel; many documents will start looking the same.


So, in a nutshell, here are a list of pros and cons about both software:



Able to create highly professional documents with customizable layout.Able to create vector images (read more about it here).Images that are inserted in the document can be linked to the original files, so any changes to the original images will cause the images to be updated automatically in the document.Works easily with other Adobe software like Adobe Photoshop, so you can insert Photoshop files (PSD) into the document.Produces work in CMYK, and therefore is easily accepted by any professional printer to print documents that are true to the colour of your digital work.
Cost is higher than MS Publisher.Some learning and practice required to master the software; the skills to use this software cannot be picked up on the first use.It is usually meant for creating single-page documents only. It can be used for creating documents with several pages (for example, both sides of a brochure), but to create a book, it is recommended that you use Adobe InDesign.
Cost is lower than Adobe Illustrator.Easy to use; just use a wizard or a template. You can create and complete a document in your first try.It has many wizards and templates for a huge range of different documents, including calendars, newsletters, flyers, and posters.
Produces work in RGB, which may appear differently coloured when printed by a professional printer.It is not able to produce full-bleed artwork; i.e. it will always have a margin. Artwork cannot go all the way to the edge of the paper.The use of wizards and templates may be counterproductive to creativity; you may end up choosing an existing template because it is there, instead of using your own ideas to come up with something more creative.Images are inserted not linked; so if changes are made to the original image file, the images will not be updated automatically in the document.

The comparison between both software can actually go on; but we have decided to keep it simple for now.

If you are running a business, it is highly recommended that you invest in professional desktop publishing software, simply because of its capability to produce high quality works that can be printed easily by professional printing companies. Don’t let a bad first impression ruin your company image; a little investment can go a very long way!

If you don’t know where to begin, why not sign up for our Adobe Illustrator Course to help you get started? Or better yet, take on our Graphic Design Course which will help you get the best of two worlds – Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.

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