InDesign is a typesetting and desktop publishing tool from the stables of Adobe. However, its subscription structure doesn’t strike the right chords with everyone. So we are penning down some of the best InDesign alternatives.
We have both paid and free programs like InDesign on this list. Find out about their pros and cons and figure out which InDesign alternative suits your publishing needs.
But first, let’s get to know more about InDesign, shall we?
What is Adobe InDesign?
Adobe InDesign is a typesetting and desktop publishing tool for creating flyers, brochures, posters, ebooks, pamphlets, and other types of layouts.
If you want to come up with your custom font, and a styling template for any digital or printed ad campaign, Adobe Indesign is the software for you. Using InDesign you can import various colors and themes, select from thousands of different stock templates, and even create layouts and typesettings from scratch.
After its recent updates, Adobe InDesign works like a charm with Apple’s M1 chip enabling 2x faster text reflow and PDF exporting.
How much does InDesign cost?
First of all, just like any other Adobe product, you can’t own an InDesign license. You have to opt for a suitable subscription plan if you want to use InDesign. You can use InDesign for free during the 7-day trial period. After that, you can choose from any of the following plans
- Adobe InDesign single app
If all you need is InDesign, the single app subscription will do just fine. Adobe InDesign subscription will cost you $20.99 per month.
- Creative Clouds All apps
With the Creative Cloud subscription over 20 Adobe products are at your disposal. However, the Creative Cloud subscription will cost you $52.99 per month.
- Student plan
If you are a student, you can get more than 60% discount on a Creative Cloud subscription. A Creative Cloud all-app subscription will cost you $19.99 per month for the first year and $29.99 per month for subsequent years. Note, you have to produce valid student ID proof in order to avail this discount.
- Business Plan
For Business usage or for team/group subscription, InDesign single app license will cost you $33.99 per month per license. And the whole Creative Cloud application bundle will be chargeable at $79.99 per month per license. With the business plan, you get added perks like team libraries, collaborative features, app integrations, tech support, and many more.
Even though InDesign is the market standard for Desktop Publishing, its subscription plans aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. So if you are looking for a typesetting tool with a perpetual license or a free alternative to InDesign, here are a bunch of InDesign alternatives that might pique your interest.
Adobe InDesign Alternatives
1. Swift Publisher
- Affordable one-time purchase option
- Wide-range design templates
- User-friendly interface
- Mac only
- Lacks some advanced features
Swift Publisher is a desktop publishing tool for Mac users. You can use it to create bi-fold or tri-fold brochures, catalogs, business cards, disc labels, and other covers. Its library features over 500 design templates that can be readily used in your projects. You will also be able to leverage 2D & 3D heading presets, 2000+ clip arts, and over 100 image masks.
Whether you want to edit templates or create original designs from scratch, this Adobe InDesign alternative for Mac won’t disappoint.
Pricing – Lifetime license for $19.99
Check out Swift Publisher here
- Free alternative to InDesign
- Compatible with Linux platform
- Cannot import InDesign files or projects
Scribus is a free InDesign alternative. Its user interface is quite similar to InDesign and can be used on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms. It supports OpenType, spot, and CMYK colors and features tools for versatile PDF creation. You can also leverage vector drawing tools and emulations for color blindness.
Even though it doesn’t support files from other desktop publishing software like InDesign or Quark, this open-source InDesign alternative is quite popular among indie designers and freelancers.
Pricing – Free
Check out Scribus here
3. Affinity Publisher
- Lifetime license available
- Works well with Affinity Designer
- Not compatible with Linux
Affinity Publisher is yet another alternative to InDesign that offers a lifetime license. It has a similar interface to InDesign and lets you import InDesign files, raster & vector designs too.
Affinity Publisher works well with Affinity Designer and other vector design tools. You can use existing design templates or import designs from third-party applications. It also provides baseline grids so that you can perfectly align your typesettings and designs at the pixel level.
You can use it for artistic ventures or for designing flyers & brochures for marketing campaigns.
Pricing – Lifetime license at around $65
Check out Affinity Publisher
4. Viva Designer
- Web-app for designing on a browser
- Desktop application for Windows, Linux & Mac platforms
- Used by top brands
Viva Designer is one of those InDesign alternatives whose license you can own. No subscription is required. What Viva Designer brings to the table is ease of use.
You can design brochures, PDFs, and other printable material on a web browser or using a desktop-based application on Windows and Mac. With the web application, you can design on almost any platform.
It has a free version but some of the advanced features are out of bounds. You can purchase a license if you want to make the most of all its features.
Pricing – Lifetime license for $139
Check out Viva Designer here
- Web-based desktop publishing
- Easy to use
- Ton of templates available
- Limited features
- No perpetual licensing
Unlike Viva Designer, Lucidpress is completely a web-based publishing tool. You need not download or install any application to start designing. In a way, you need not worry about system specifications while working with Lucidpress.
Lucidpress can be integrated with DropBox, Google Drive, and many social media platforms so that you can import files and publish them on different platforms with ease. However, Lucidpress can only help you with basic publishing and designing work; it’s not really suitable for professionals or experts who may need more customization options and complex macros.
Pricing – Starting from $3 per month
Check out Lucidpress here
Scribus vs InDesign
Scribus is InDesign’s open-source competitor. Let’s find out how they fare against each other
Scribus is the clear winner, being a free InDesign alternative. No need to worry about licensing or subscription charges while using Scribus.
InDesign has way more features than Scribus. Few publishing tools come close to the features on offer with InDesign. InDesign will rule against Scribus from a feature standpoint.
Ease of Use
As Scribus is an Adobe InDesign free alternative, you have to wait for their developers to push new features. Also, Scribus’s user interface isn’t as intuitive or polished as InDesign. So InDesign is a clear winner in this segment too.
In terms of device compatibility, both Scribus and InDesign stand neck to neck. Both applications can be used on Windows and Mac platforms, while Scribus can also be used on Linux systems.
However, when you talk about compatibility with third-party applications and other designing tools, InDesign is a clear winner as it works like a charm with sibling Adobe products.
All in all, professionals should definitely go for Adobe Indesign while novice publishers (who are trying to get in the game) and freelancers can opt for Scribus, the free InDesign alternative.
Also Read: The 7 Best Adobe Illustrator Alternatives
In this post, we looked at some of the best InDesign alternatives. We got to know about some paid and free InDesign alternatives. If you are just getting started and looking for a free InDesign alternative, Scribus will do just fine. Or, if you want to design brochures and posters online go for Viva Designer or Lucidpress.
What is the best alternative to InDesign?
Swift Designer is the cheapest InDesign alternative for Mac users. While Affinity Designer is an all-around desktop publishing tool that is compatible with Windows and Mac platforms.
Can I use InDesign for free?
You can use InDesign for free during its 7-day free trial. After that, you have to go for a subscription plan that suits you. You can check out Scribus if you are looking for a free InDesign alternative.
Can I use Photoshop instead of InDesign?
InDesign is used in projects that rely heavily on textual contents and managing layouts. Photoshop on the other hand is perfect for creative expression, editing images, and pixel-level editing.