Q: I am interested in starting a magazine in my city but I’m confused about which software to buy. I want to develop a quality publication for my potential readers. Any help you can offer would be great.
-N. Jordan, Detroit
A: There are plenty of desktop publishing programs available to help you design and publish an attractive and professional-looking magazine. While some of these packages include professional features, others offer easy-to-use tools that are perfect for beginners.
Here are three desktop publishing choices worth considering. I suggest that you read online reviews before purchasing.
QuarkXPress 6.5 ($749, www.quark. com) has long been the dominant application for magazine and newspaper design. It includes a comprehensive list of editing and printing features for publishing a magazine.
InDesign CS2 (Creative Suite 2) ($699, www.adobe.com) is a serious, feature-packed program. This package streamlines page design and works well with other Adobe software products, including Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, and GoLive.
Microsoft Publisher 2003 ($169, www.microsoft.com) is an ideal choice for home and small-office desktop publishers. Its off-the-shelf features are compatible with Microsoft Office programs. The program allows you to produce impressive in-house publications, but it lacks high-end print and Web design features.