Part of the SoftKey (formerly Spinnaker) Easy Working series, Easy Working Desktop Publisher is the least expensive program in this group--less than $30 on the street. The company's PFS: Publisher--about $49 street--offers a few sophisticated features, such as frame linking, that helped it to fare better at creating our test newsletter.
Both programs have advanced features, including easy-to-use index and table-of-contents generators. Desktop Publisher (along with Microsoft Publisher) also has a full-blown table editor for easily creating word and number charts.
In addition, a sophisticated column balance option in Desktop Publisher adds space between lines of text to force columns to end evenly at the bottom of a page, contributing to the symmetry of a layout. Another helpful option in Desktop Publisher lets you create outlines from style sheets. You'll find this handy for generating presentation and speaker notes from reports you produce with Desktop Publisher.
It's easy to manipulate text and graphics with Desktop Publisher's simple-to-use text tool and pointer. But the real story is the program's advanced options designed for working with long documents. Chapter breaks make long documents easier to manage by letting you format blocks of pages as separate sections--you can create headers and footers for each chapter, restart page numbering, and even renumber footnotes.
An advantage PFS:Publisher has over Desktop Publisher is its simple and powerful irregular text wrap feature. A Quick-Buttons feature in PFS:Publisher lets you assign commands to a floating tool palette, so that often-used options are just a mouse click away. In addition, PFS:Publisher supports color graphics; its sibling does not.
Both programs fall short in features that would help novices. PFS:Publisher comes with 50 templates, 25 more than Desktop Publisher. But in both, these templates lack text and graphics, so beginners can't view how layouts will appear when fleshed out. In PFS:Publisher, a handy cataloging feature does save time by letting you view templates before you open them.
Desktop Publisher, for the price, is hard to fault, especially if you lay out long documents with different sections, indices, and tables of contents. On the newsletter, it lost points for such things as its inability to handle EPS graphics and lack of color support. PFS:Publisher is also a good choice for long documents, and it lets you link text frames. But for more common tasks--short documents such as brochures, fliers, and newsletters--some of the more costly solutions here may ultimately be more practical.