Posey's Tips & Tricks

Exploring Alternatives to Microsoft Publisher

Depending on what you need, there are some good alternatives once Publisher loses support in 2026.

Microsoft had recently announced that it will be retiring Publisher and that Publisher will no longer be supported after October 2026. At that point, Publisher will also be removed from Microsoft 365. Microsoft has said that it is exploring ways of adding Publisher like functionality to applications such as Word, PowerPoint and Designer. Even so, those who use Publisher on a regular basis will need to consider how best to move forward.

When choosing a Publisher alternative, the most important consideration will likely be the ways in which you currently use Publisher. Publisher seems to be primarily designed for those who need to do page layout work in preparation for printing a document or a book. Those who need to do this type of desktop publishing work should check out Adobe InDesign. Other popular options include QuarkXPress and Serif Affinity Publisher 2. All of these applications are viable alternatives to Microsoft Publisher.

Personally, I tend to use Microsoft Publisher in a way that is probably different from most people. As many of you probably know, I have been training for a commercial space mission since 2015. The group that I am training with tends to create a mission patch for most of the really hands-on type of training exercises (underwater spacewalks, zero-gravity flights and that sort of thing). Those of us in the group take turns creating the mission patches.

When I create a patch, I usually use a graphics program and a digital canvas to draw the artwork that will be used on the patch. However, the graphics software that I use doesn't handle text very well (or it may just be a lack of skill on my part). That being the case, I almost always import my artwork into Publisher and then use Publisher to define the patch's shape and to add lettering.

You might be wondering why I use Microsoft Publisher for such tasks, as opposed to using some other application. In all honesty, the reason why I use Publisher is because it's something that's super familiar to me. Quite a few years ago, someone asked me to write a book about Microsoft Publisher. As you can imagine, I had to spend a lot of time working with Publisher throughout the writing process. In the end, I ended up gravitating toward Publisher for patch design and for similar tasks, simply because I already knew how to use Publisher and didn't have to take the time to learn something else.

Given Microsoft's plans for retiring Publisher, I have been spending some time exploring an open source desktop publishing application called Scribus. Figure 1 shows a comparison between Publisher (on the left) and Scribus (on the right).

[Click on image for larger view.] Figure 1. Scribus and Publisher look somewhat similar to one another.

I have to confess that I originally started looking at Scribus for no other reasons other than that it is open source and that it has received a lot of good reviews. As much as I might like some of the other Publisher alternatives, I hate the idea of being locked into a subscription.

After installing Scribus, I found that it is able to import a number of common file formats, including Microsoft Publisher documents. Unfortunately, I have had mixed results with trying to import Publisher documents. Some documents seem to import without issue, but long and complex documents tend not to be displayed correctly.

Aside from any issues that I might have had with converting Publisher documents, I have found that there is a minimal learning curve associated with using Scribus. There have been a few things that I have had to look up, such as how to insert curved text or how to rotate an object, but the Scribus documentation is readily available and easy to follow. Overall though, I have found the Scribus interface to be very intuitive (particularly as someone who is coming from Publisher) and Scribus has so far proven to be easy to use.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 22-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.


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