Often overlooked by professional users, Serif PagePlus Publisher X3 offers a versatile and powerful page layout package solution for the semi-occasional user.

The interface has been updated, but it isn't a dramatic departure from previous versions. You'll still find the main toolbars on the right with a large work area in the centre of the screen.

What has changed is the way you can group the toolbars to match the way you work. Shortcuts are now also customisable, so you can easily increase your productivity.

Range of new tools

The way you handle data has been modified, so text boxes can now be edited more easily. With support for Word 2007, this latest version is also readily compatible with Vista and the latest version of Office. What's more, if you own other Serif titles, the new Metafiles will make it easier to share formatted data.

Overall, the way the package works is still the same and, while you'll need a reasonably powerful machine to make the most of its features, we found it still ran successfully on a Celeron M laptop.

What will attract new users, as well as make older users wish to upgrade, are the wide number of new tools that have been added. Images can be handled in a variety of new ways.

We liked the Image Cutout Studio, which as the name suggests, allows you to cut out the backgrounds of images and transpose them on to other settings. The results are impressive for such an entry-level package.

Worth an upgrade

Outputting data has also been improved, with PagePlus now working the same way as professional packages work, by pulling all the text, images and data into one workflow package. In this way, you can be sure that any data sent for printing will be incorporated correctly.

There are plenty of tools on offer, making this a well thought out package. If you're already using PagePlus, there is enough here to make it a worthwhile upgrade, while first-time users will like how easy it is to get to grips with the package.