There aren't many contenders to the DTP crown, and PagePlus often gets unfairly overlooked. For the professional market, the likes of QuarkXPress and InDesign dominate, while home users are more likely to use Microsoft Publisher to create brochures, posters, advertisements and other documents.

But these packages represent the extremes – from highly advanced, expensive and feature-packed, all the way to cheap, more restricted and user-friendly.

PagePlus aims to plug the gap between these two poles. With any design software, the provision of templates is both a blessing and a curse. When producing newsletters, booklets and other documents, no one wants to end up with a bland, generic result that looks just like countless other examples.

PagePlus X5 comes with hundreds of templates covering all manner of document types, and there are even more available to purchase online. Thankfully, templates are easily personalised, so if you don't fancy the idea of starting a project entirely from scratch, they're on hand to provide a handy starting point and some inspiration.

Make it your own

Placeholder images can be replaced in seconds, and the Colour Scheme Designer makes it easy to create a look for your documents that matches your company logo, or just fits in with existing documents.

The basis of any template is a set of master pages, which define the look and contents of your document. Templates can include both portrait and landscape pages within the same document, and page elements can be completely customised by detaching master page elements so they can be edited as required, or applying multiple masters to the same page or object.

Whatever type of document you're working on, it is likely that the text will be produced in a word processor rather than in the DTP software itself. As such, it's important that there's support for importing text, and PagePlus X5 supports all the formats you'd expect, including all versions of Microsoft Word up to 2010. The program also supports OpenType Pro fonts and advanced features such as ornaments and ligatures, providing a level of control that isn't found in many other DTP packages in the same price bracket.

For many people, PagePlus X5 can replace several software packages, thanks to built-in photo editing and tools like the Logo Studio. With the option to prepare your documents for commercial printing, it should come as no surprise that PagePlus X5 also features support for PDFs. This not only means that the documents you create can be saved in PDF format, but you can also use it to open and edit PDFs. This feature alone makes it well worth considering.

There aren't many new features to be found in PagePlus X5, but those that have been added – taken in conjunction with the tweaking and refinement of an already impressive program – help make this an approachable, yet powerful piece of software with the flexibility to be useful to a wide range of businesses, as well as home users.

Where PagePlus really shines is in terms of value for money. Newcomers to DTP may find that there's a slight learning curve to overcome, but most of the program works in an intuitive fashion. Home users are encouraged to try new ideas and be more adventurous in their designs, and the high quality results mean professional designers don't need to worry that they're making a compromise by working with cheaper software.

PagePlus X5 costs a fraction of the price of professional level design software, and while the improvements may not be enough to make this an essential upgrade from X4, for anyone making a new purchase, this is a great investment.

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