Magazines Register

How Can You Choose the Right Magazine Design Software?

Magazine Design Software

Choosing magazine design software for your publication can be an expensive endeavor not just in the software cost outlay but also in the time and expense of training your team to use it. In addition, your choice could turn into subscription and advertising revenue losses if the software does not perform as expected. That’s why it’s so important to determine exactly what your needs are and find a program that meets those needs — rather than settling for the first great software product you hear about.

Design software may fail for your company for many reasons. It may not integrate with your current publishing environment. It might already be outdated or obsolete. Or perhaps you can’t personalize it for your needs. Often, it’s simply that magazine design software is missing some desired functionality. How can you determine what’s best for your magazine?


When choosing your magazine design software, you’ll want to compare the basic tools you can find in most design packages. Make sure the layout tools match your design staff’s skill set and offer a wide array of functionality. Options should include the ability to group objects, arrange layers, reconfigure paragraphs, or toggle snap-to-grid alignments. Basic design tools should allow you to edit photos, fine-tune graphic element placement, as well as add filters and other special effects to images. In addition, the software should have a wide variety of text editing features such as drop caps and custom fonts. A basic design software should also have a library of templates as well as the ability to customize your own templates to make designing your unique magazine layout quicker and easier.

Many design packages go beyond these basics and let you add interactive digital elements such as page flipping effects, annotations, videos, background music, and active links. Some also support cross-platform offerings so readers can consume your publications on their favorite devices, and others offer associated stores for selling digital magazines.

Questions to ask

When searching for the right magazine design product, you’ll want to consider some important questions to ensure you go with the software most appropriate for your needs.

  • Design Creative InspirationWhat type of magazine are you creating? A flashy, high-impact, graphics-focused glossy publication will require different functionality than a text-oriented news or financial magazine.
  • Will the design software integrate seamlessly into your workflows and be compatible with your existing hardware, software, and operating system? It’s important to choose design tools that leverage existing resources and allow for future growth.
  • Do you want to purchase a design software that sits on your desktop, or would you rather subscribe to a program that lives in the cloud? Cloud-based subscription services tend to be less expensive to implement and maintain. Users can also access cloud-based services from nearly any device and location. If you plan to use the software for the foreseeable future, however, you’ll probably want to purchase it outright for long-term cost-effectiveness rather than paying monthly subscription fees.
  • Do you publish a digital edition or need to optimize your content for users to read on mobile devices? Many design packages can take your print content and replicate it into a basic digital edition, convert it to a fully interactive digital edition, or optimize it for reading on mobile devices. If you publish only a print version, these options will let you easily add a digital version. If you only have a digital presence, you’ll also likely want a package that focuses on creating and designing specifically for the web and mobile devices.

Every magazine publisher’s situation is unique. Doing your research and choosing the right design software for your publication can help you streamline your processes and produce a magazine that presents your content and graphics in a pleasing and intuitive layout to attract and satisfy your readers.

Contact your Sheridan representative or visit our contact page to ask how we can help you streamline your publishing processes, reduce costs, and keep up with changes in print and publishing strategies.