Summary: Microsoft Publish (LONG)

Subject: Summary: Microsoft Publish (LONG)
From: "Marie C. Paretti" <mparetti -at- RRINC -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 10:14:57 -0400

I've had a couple of requests for a summary of the info I received on
Publish, so here it is:

The short version is: Publish is useful for *very short* projects --
newsletters, invitations, flyers -- and generally more for personal than
for business use. It sounds like it's primarily designed for home PC use
rather than business/professional, and so it doesn't handle long or complex

Below is are the responses in detail. Some people hate it altogether; some
like it for the short stuff. No one uses it for long stuff.

(all material below is quoted from e-mails - I've deleted the senders' names)

I've used Publisher to put together some smaller newsletters and brochures,
so I can't give you any info on how it handles long documents. It is an
easy-to-learn product that has some nice features. How it compares to more
powerful DTP packages, I'm not sure. At the price, it may very well be
worth examining to see if it will jump through the hoops you have.


I've used Publisher to create invitations, etc. for personal use.
Usually short, graphic heavy, text light sort of publications. I use
Publisher because it's pretty easy and quick to use (and has ready-made

However, I use FrameMaker at work because it gives me the heavy-duty
layout and formatting options I need for long documents (like training
manuals, user manuals, etc.)

My initial response to your question would be that Publisher can't
handle the heavy-duty documentation projects as well as (if at all)
FrameMaker. But if you're doing relatively easy layout and design,
without a lot of complicated style, etc., it will probably work.
My understanding is the Microsoft Publisher is a greeting card and banner
tool aimed at the home PC user. Unless I'm confusing the name with the many
other Microsoft products, I use this software to generate birthday cards
for my family and friends. In other words, it's not even a word processing
I too have Microsoft Publisher on my system. It's a desktop publishing
program that has been around for years.

I've used Publisher to create newsletters and calendars, but it seems to
be more oriented toward home use -- and not for "heavy duty" business
use. If you're looking for a tool that will handle long, complex
documents, I'd go with Frame. I'm just learning it, but already see
advantages over Word. However, if you're looking to produce short, easy
pieces "on the fly" Publisher and/or Word should serve the purpose.
I regularly use MS Publisher to do a 6-page newsletter and miscellaneous
other items. Easy to use, but it doesn't have the level of sophistication
of, say, PageMaker. I don't think you'd want to try to lay out entire books
in Publisher. Doesn't have kerming capability, for one thing.
I have Publisher on my home PC (hey, why not? I didn't pay for it!) and I
would not recommend it for a work application. It is best used for banners,
fliers, birthday cards -- fun stuff that you would do at home. It does have
a brochure template but it's not that great. Anyone with experience in Word,
Corel, or Frame could create something better.

The best comparison would be to Print Shop Pro which was extremely popular
several years ago.
Run, do not walk, from the idea of using MS Publisher for anything other
than two-page newsletters for church or your sewing group. It has bugs
and its ability to interface with any standard makes me grimace.

Our experience with MS Publisher is that it is designed for the wannabe
who simply has to do a one- or two-pager every now and then. It is
hopeless with documents of greater than 10 pages. Its feature set is
crippled, when compared to Word or Framemaker.

Want my advice? Use Word unless you're going to be doing books with
multiple chapters and documents with lots of pages. Then use Framemaker
I have MS Publisher at home. It's a fun little program. I used it to
make my change of addres cards when I moved. I never even entertained
the thought of using it for long documents, or any documents of any
kind. It seemed like a _home_ publishing tool, retail $80-100. I don't
think it's got much power or much in the way of word processing tool.

You can download a fully functioning trial version of MS Publisher
from Microsoft's website.
Publisher is a cute little program, a very good introduction to desktop
publishing, but by no means meant to be on the same level with Frame or
even PageMaker or Quark. It costs less than $100, if that tells you
You know how bad word is?

MSPublisher is worse!
For two years the Project I'm working on used FrameMaker for some very
large documents (some 400+pp) and it handled them very nicely. Wouldn't
even consider Publisher - but use it at home for my newsletters for

In the meantime, the organisation has moved from FrameMaker for
documentation to Word (Word licenses are cheaper) and it's a nightmare.
Publisher is a toy compared to Frame. Frame is worth the money.

Use publisher for the little desktop publishing jobs. It can't handle big
I've used Publisher off and on for 4-5 years. The latest version (Pub
97) is noticeably better than previous ones. It is good for
uncomplicated "quickie" stuff like letterhead, short borchures, smallish
newsletters with few graphics, a simple layout, and no more than a dozen
or so pages. It used to be a true entry level DTP package: easy to
learn; and would whet your appetite for a real DTP package. Now it is
somewhere in-between since it's better than entry level but nowhere near
as good as Quark or Pagemaker (my mainline package). The latest version
will do PS output, although I suspect most service bureaus could not
read the files, and it's still cheap (less than about $80).

On the downside, it is one of the worst memory hogs MS has ever
produced. It's feature set pales in comparison to a real DTP package. Is
NOT totally compatible with Office97, and it's slow even on a Pentium II
system like mine with 128 megs of RAM.

In sum: it's a good learning tool for DTP; and is OK for simple jobs.
I wouldn't use it for technical documentation. It's better suited for
small, graphic intensive home projects (ie, fliers, party invitations,
etc.). I've also heard that there's an issue with printing Publisher
I have used MS Publisher in the past and it definitely has extensive
limitations. It is very useful for short newsletters, resumes, and party
invitations. I would never recommend that anyone use it for anything else
except personal or "fun" documents. Your interest in ordering Framemaker
should be followed through.
I use Publisher in some service work I do since I can pass
the files on to others easily. It is great for little
flyers or pamphlets. However, in the work place I think
Frame or Pagemaker are more likely to meet your needs.

If you are doing brochures and catalogs, I suggest Pagemaker.
If you are creating technical manuals, Frame is definately
the option.

Publisher is easy and basic, but has little power.
Toy is pretty much the operative word.
(Credentials: I edited
a third party book on Publisher for technical
accuracy.) Publisher is designed and adequate only for the smallest
newsletter or greeting card, and then only if you're
willing to sign off most control over appearance
etc. to MS programmers.
A quick, brief answer: I strongly recommend MS Publisher for certain
types of projects: short, graphics/layout intensive. For example,
Publisher is excellent for 2-4 page newsletters, brochures, invitations,
flyers, small signs, announcements, etc.. etc. It is NOT meant for long
documents; it's not a word processor, and does not compete with Word,
Frame, or similar products.

Another good thing about Publisher--if the user is a beginner, it's help
and wizards are very helpful and lead you through all important processes.
Publisher is a simple-minded desktiop publishing package that is intended for
people who have small jobs and don't have the time to learn PageMaker or
Quark. It is NOT suitable for documentation -- you'd be better off with Ms

I inherited the production of a department newsletter that was originally
done in Publisher. The first thing I did was insist that they get me a copy
of PageMaker. It was not really any harder to learn or to use and the output
is far nicer.

I'd avoid using Publisher for anything, if at all possible.

Marie C. Paretti
Department of English Recognition Research, Inc.
University of Wisconsin - Madison Blacksburg, Virginia
mparetti -at- facstaff -dot- wisc -dot- edu mparetti -at- rrinc -dot- com

Sometimes I feel like a dog
standin' on a tool box
in the back of a pickup truck
doin' 90 round a corner
just tryin' to hang on for dear life.
James Bonamy

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