Serif PagePlus 11

Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, September 2006
Published by: Serif
Requires: Microsoft Windows 98 SE, Me, 2000, or XP operating system; 64MB RAM minimum, 500MB available hard drive space for full program and content installation
MSRP: US$129.99

PagePlus 11 is a page design, layout and publishing program which is supposed to be easy to use while at the same time providing professional design, layout and output features. Serif also claims that PagePlus 11 can be used in a professional environment. The software features extensvie PDF import and export functionality along with web (HTML) output and of course both desktop and professional print output. Although priced to compete directly with Microsoft Publisher, the PagePlus 11 feature and function set places it in the same category as Adobe InDesign and Quark XPress.

I've worked with document creation and page design solutions since the early eighties. My first exposure to page layout was with the early image setting programs working with linotype and compugraphics-based imagesetters. Once desktop publishing and What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) layout tools arrived, I was exposed to the somewhat crude Xerox Ventura. I then worked with Adobe PageMaker, Quark XPress, DMC Calamus, Corel Draw and more recently Adobe InDesign. I've also owned previous versions of Serif Page Plus.

PagePlus 11 ships on two CDs—one for the main program and the other for the huge assortment of content resources. The resource CD is packed with over 1250 templates, over 200 fonts and plenty of tutorials. One of the things which sets PagePlus apart from alternative solutions is just how well it has been tailored to help users produce documents and design materials. With capabilities such as smart templates, built in PDF editing and form creation tools, bitmap and image adjustments and filters, as well as illustration and transparency effects, you'll have plenty to keep you happy. The rest of the expected tools are here too, with extensive font and type capabilities, an excellent editor in the form of WritePlus, web design, database, mail merge and robust image enhancement features.


The ability to import 25 different bitmap file and flattened PSD files is a big plus. Add to this, image effects filters and photo enhancement tools like levels, curves, blur and diffuse glow, removal for dust & scratches and red-eye and you needn't waste time launching a photo editor for basic improvements. Although these tools work well, I found this part of the UI to be a bit clunky. A little bit of fine tuning is needed.

PDF support is extensive, with capabilities for PDF import, advanced editing (in many cases it's better at some things than InDesign as far as I'm concerned), and built-in PDF export to prepress standards like PDF/X-1 and /X-1a. It even supports Security features in the built-in forms capabilities. I noticed a few color handling and occasional font substitution errors.

When editing text in your documents, PagePlus facilitates foreign language and character support quite effectively through the use of multiple dictionaries and Unicode. With capabilities such as find & replace, tables, text on a path, text envelopes and custom text frames, you'll find it hard to find something you can't do. Its typographic capabilities, including kerning and line leading, are comprehensive. The Artistic Text feature is very cool, allowing the text within its bounds to be dynamically resized with the frame.

Once you've finished editing your text, you can use the Convert to Curves capability to apply further graphical effects. To top this there is also support for tables, web page creation and export. Add to this a basic preflight engine and system level color management which uses ICC profiles and installed printers, and you'll have the perfect setup for controlling your output to almost professional levels.

While I was impressed by the range of tools I found in PagePlus and by the program's overall capabilities, for fairly obvious reasons I don't recommend it for use by professionals. The main reason is the lack of support in professional environments—very few service bureaus, agencies or print shops accept PagePlus files directly. On the other hand, if you are not a professional designer and need an inexpensive, effective alternative to InDesign or Quark, you won't regret investing in PagePlus. The price point and the advanced editing capabilities make this an ideal tool for SOHO and home users who need something more than Microsoft Office or Microsoft Publisher can offer.

Serif provides frontline support for PagePlus 11 with an online knowledge base, FAQ, newsgroups, and support forums on which I notice quick and educated responses to many questions. Serif also offers telephone support although I didn't really avail myself of their services. The Serif web site is well laid out and it's easy to find and access the information you're most likely to need.

A review of Serif PagePlus 11 inevitably begs the question of how well the software stands up to competition from InDesign and Quark. In fact, PagePlus 11 stands up very well, as I found out to my pleasure. Serif has been very busy adding some very powerful and useful capabilities.

Cons: Doesn't import layered Photoshop files correctly. No Mac OS X version.

Pros: Easy to use and learn. Very powerful. User interface has received a face lift which greatly improves ease of use. Web features. Excellent content. Great value. Serif have paid a lot of attention to the improvements in this version of PagePlus. As a tool it is no poor cousin to InDesign or Quark. For the home users and business users of all types, PagePlus offers professional level tools at an extremely friendly price. Irrespective of what you want to do—design documents, create web pages, basic photo editing—you can quite likely do it inside PagePlus 11. Highly Recommended.

KSN Product Rating:

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