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on October 24, 2010
I originally wrote this up on Amazon.ca a few days ago and thought that, since most readers would not go to the Canadian site, this review would be helpful posted here for a larger audience.

After spending approximately 40 hours working in the 2010 version of the program (we have been using this product since the 2003 version), here are my initial observations:

PROS
1. It is definitely more stable and it is more integrated into the Office suite
2. It has lots of little additions that make using it much easier - for example, it has no problems with a bilingual document and switches keyboard, language and speller seamlessly. Changing pictures is a snap and you can link an Excel table to Publisher - change numbers in Excel and when you open Publisher, it updates your Excel tables. Excellent.
3, It is much easier to use than a real publishing solution such as InDesign, which has a really steep learning curve and costs about $1K more per license. If you know Word, you can use this product. Everyone in your business can use Publisher, while very few will have the knowledge to use a professional desktop publishing software solution such as InDesign by Adobe. This is a really big advantage from both a cost and time perspective.
4. The learning curve is very low, especially if you are already familiar with the Ribbon.
5. Contrary to popular belief and snickering on the part of printing houses and so-called experts, Publisher does a very good job at creating documents for printing at a professional printing house - it has Pantone and CMYK built into it and an excellent commercial printing wizard - our documents are of the quality of, for example, The Missing Manual series, using full colour. Some of our printers cannot believe that our documents were created in Publisher.
6. If you need to make a lot of changes to a document to satisfy clients, Publisher makes it really easy - but it is flawed, some basic automated functions do not exist. Your alternative is to do everything in a competing product like InDesign.
7. Publisher is very affordable compared to InDesign and if you are prepared to invest your sweat and time into manually manipulating each page, it probably is a very good solution (see the Cons about automation however).

CONS
1. It still is NOT a real desktop solution. You need to write all of your documentation in Word first, then design your template and move everything from Word to Publisher. Trying to import a Word document with pictures, tables etc. is a nightmare (believe me on this one). Write your text in Word and import it, but add your tables, pictures etc directly from within Publisher. This tip alone is worth money in terms of saved time and frustration - donations are, of course, accepted :-).
2. The help files are completely and totally useless - there is no detailed information on all of the features (SHAME ON YOU MICROSOFT). I have to use Word help files to get information on using specific elements of Styles for example - fortunately, if you know Word, many of the functions are the same. I sometimes use a Word reference manual to find more information on a Publisher function - wow!
3. You can see literally that Microsoft is still not really supporting this product - with the dearth of comprehensive help files, it feels still like an orphan and it still seems to be oriented towards greeting cards and newsletters and very short documents (think twice about writing a training manual of 200 pages for example, it is really time consuming - as some basic automated functions do not exist and you need to do each page manually). Too bad, the product merits more attention as it is a very complimentary extension of Office.
4. Lacks automation - this is a very serious drawback. Publisher 2010 lacks some really basic functions - for example, it cannot create a table of contents, although it offers some table of content templates that you can fill in manually. Importing a table of contents from Word will save a bit of time, but you still have to manually type in the page numbers in the table of contents if you change anything -which means that if you add in some pages, you need to manually enter the changes such as new titles and page numbering, into the Table of Contents and redo all of the numbering manually - ouch! Very time consuming and creates the conditions for errors slipping in with page numbers, table references etc.
5. Because of the lack of automation, you need Word to make this product shine but, importing from Word is very time consuming. Sometimes, when updating a manual, we simply do the changes in Word and re-import what we change (like a table of contents) ... but if you have a lot of changes throughout a document and not just the Table of Contents, then you are better off simply starting a NEW publisher file using the custom template you created AND, just so you know, importing is very problematic and time consuming as Publisher dumps everything into a single text box when it imports (it chains the text boxes onto other pages to accommodate your content). It does NOT convert your Word template into a Publisher template.
6. Publisher still seems oriented towards very SHORT documents, say 20 pages or so. For example, automated page numbering is still basic and this is not acceptable - you can only place automated page numbering in the headers or footers, you cannot place them halfway down the page for example, as many textbooks or manuals use today, unless you are prepared to manually enter the numbers yourself. You CANNOT generate a Table of Figures or a Table of Pictures or an Index - it needs to be done manually, just like the Table of Contents. By the way Microsoft, you are not serious about this product when I see basic functions like these still unavailable in Publisher (see Con item number 4 above). I had such high hopes that this functionality would be added - but alas this is still a crippled product.
7. Oh yes, you cannot merge two or more documents - you need to follow an obscure and intimidating process that someone created in a user forum - it works, but it is scary and you should not have to be forced to do this. Why is this is a problem? Well, Publisher can only handle documents up to about 100 pages or it freezes or does not load, so you need to divide longer documents and then merge them by converting everything to PDF and using Adobe pro or similar software to merge your PDF files. This is what we have been doing for the past several years - it works very well, but you should be able to merge two or three documents that are less than 100 pages, right?
8. The master pages function is still really flaky and un-intuative. I have yet to figure out how to copy master pages from one document to another in 2010 - and before criticizing me on this, I can tell you from experience that the "switching template" function within Publisher 2010, for example a document submitted by another user using a generic Publisher Template, does NOT work with complex customized templates, it only works with simple templates.
9. You can send your content and template to a professional designer who can convert your file to an InDesign or Quark document with a special add-in (interesting that this exists for designers who pay for this add-in; this means that there are a lot of small companies like us that use Publisher primarily for desktop publishing - ARE YOU PAYING ATTENTION MICROSOFT?) - however, you CANNOT take your designer's content and convert to Publisher (you have to manually created a template, or master page, within Publisher). This is a real pain as you then become totally reliant on your designer (we use one as a sub-contractor) to make changes using InDesign and this is very expensive and frustrating for them and for you. You can send them your Publisher files but they cannot return the favour basically. So, for some of our documents, we are stuck with outsourcing or rewriting in Word and then going through the entirely un-automated process of importing the Word document (as noted earlier, everything dumps into a text-box which expands onto multiple pages for a long document - you then hope that you do not have too much manipulation).
10. Lastly, and maybe fatally for the future of the product and its attractiveness, there are no really comprehensive third-party support reference books out there - there is no Wiley, or O'Reilly or even Microsoft Inside-Out reference manuals - you really are on your own and have to rely on user forums for help.

We still find Publisher useful enough that we continue to use it in our small business but Microsoft still does not seem to take this product very seriously, at least from what we perceive. Like I noted earlier, this is really too bad because the product has so much potential.
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on July 8, 2010
I have been using Publisher for about 10 years and have come to rely on it, primarily for business documents such as training guides and promotional items for my software business. I think that the 2010 Version of Publisher is a worthwhile upgrade from previous versions.

I happen to be one of the people who like the "Ribbon" interface that was introduced in MS Word 2007 and has now been extended to Publisher. I can easily find most common tools and features on the ribbon and customize it as required if there is a ribbon element missing from those I use frequently. There is a much improved "File" tab (or "Backstage View" as MS calls it) with easier access to various printing, saving and sending options. Unlike another review I read here, I had no problems whatsoever printing both paper and .PDF versions of my Publisher documents on both my Xerox and Epson printers with zero configuration*. In fact, printing is improved as there is now top-level control over things such as duplexing (double-siding- if your printer supports it) without having to set a default printer for a document and then go into the Printer Properties to select features. There is also a great new, accurate and large print preview right next to all of the Publisher printer controls.

Other improvements include better font previews including support for OpenType fonts. I find that the layout tools are improved too, with better accuracy and display of the alignment of various document elements. There are some great new templates and more available online. Photo/graphic editing tools are also improved, and the whole program just seems easier to work with while it works better for me. I also find that more web services than ever (Internet faxing and printing services) accept the upload of Publisher documents in their native format, without the need to export them into .PDF or other formats.

I am impressed with the 2010 version of Publisher and recommend it as a worthwhile upgrade or as an excellent new product for desktop publishing for everything from postcards and training manuals to greeting cards and signs. I bought mine as part of MS Office 2010 Professional Suite as opposed to buying it as a standalone item, but I think it's worthwhile either way.

Publisher is easily one of my favorite pieces of software (and I use a lot of software). I wholeheartedly recommend it if you have need of a great desktop publishing app.

*(As an aside, I sell and support a specialized piece of law software. We have thousands of users who have no printing issues, but I know of a handful who cannot print .PDFs with our built-in .PDF add-on, no matter what we have tried. We usually then have them install a different, free PDF printer software. I believe that such quirks are a result of some corruption of the installation and/or of a corruption of the Windows operating system. Let's face it, if the user base is many thousands- and for a product like Publisher, many hundreds of thousands, and a few people can't print, what do you blame- the software or the environment it is installed into?)

Update 3/11: I still like and recommend Publisher for the types of tasks I mention above. I do not think it would be a great tool for really long documents. I have used MS Word in the past for 85+ page proposals and would NOT recommend Publisher for such things. Even Word had problems generating a good table of contents and other technical parts of long documents. I have never created a Publisher Document longer than 15 or so pages. If you are looking for something to publish your magnum opus on, look to something like Quark or InDesign- just be ready to pay 5X more for it and spend a lot of time learning. Publisher is for the rest of us.
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on July 19, 2010
I've used Publisher for about 10 years and upgraded to 2010 from 2000. I definately recommend the upgrade to anyone using 2000. Although I've used the program for a long time it has been for the same purpose, writing a monthly newsletter that includes text and photographs and is emailed in pdf format. The improvements in Publisher make my job much easier and faster. For example, I can save my file as a pdf and Publisher compresses files as well as the Adobe Acrobat Professional program I was using for that purpose. The difference is Publisher is faster. In fact, the program seems much more responsive than 2000 for pretty much everything I do. I'm not a big fan of the "ribbon" interface but I like using one standard interface and since I have Office 2007 this program provides that continuity. In terms of function, the ribbon makes most things a little easier and a few things a little harder. That said, I have 10 years with the old interface and a few weeks with the new. I'll adjust quickly. Still the ribbon is a case of fixing something that wasn't broke rather than fixing something that is broken. I'm talking about the help feature which IMO isn't and has never been very helpful.

I had no problems loading the program and no problems with printing. I'm using Win 7 and have a fairly new computer. I ordered from Amazon. I always seem to have a good experience with Amazon and this was no exception. Fast delivery and produce arrived in perfect condition.
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on April 17, 2011
I've used Publisher for 12 years to publish a magazine and I love the program. However I hate the 2010 version. MS has reworked what was a great program and fixed things that were not broken. They eliminated good tools from the 2000, 2003, 2007 versions for the sake of making change in my opinion. The new ribbon style toolbars makes it harder and far more time consuming to use than the older versions and if you want help it's practically non-existant. There was no comprehensive manual on the market for months so after waiting 6+ months I bought the first real manual from a Shelly Cashman series of textbooks. There is a basic version ($50) and a complete version ($85). I found the complete version a complete waste of money. It was apparent it was written by a team of scholars with lots of theory concepts and no experience. It's well illustrated, but redundant and very low level.

So I'm using 2010 and 2007 together which fortunetely the programs allow opening either one, so far with no hiccups. There are a few good features in 2010 that I do like, but the older versions are faster and have the features I depend on.

I've tried Pagemaker 6, Quark and In Design and find them all over rated and way over priced. In Design has a steep learning curve and it took me 3 days to assemble a 32 page magazine with it, whereas I do it all in Publisher in 4-5 hours. I saw a few reviews here saying you need to write in Word and transfer your work in. That's not true at all. I don't use Word hardly at all and do everything in Publisher including advertising design. At present I'm also writing a 400 page technical textbook and it's all being done in Publisher. The reason is the illustrations, photos and charts work in Publisher but don't work well in Word.

I'll continue to use 2010 but I'm asking MS to ask the people who use their programs more before they re-design a product that works. It's still a good program but 2007 is better.
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on October 17, 2011
I've used this product from its beginnings. I love it, and this version is worth the price. I use it for our club newsletter and can produce an amazing newsletter with a minimum of angst. I will say that you must have Office installed on your computer or Pubisher will not install.....and it won't tell you why, which is kind of rude, and a waste of time. But if you can get past that barrier you are good to go.
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on November 6, 2010
PLEASE SEE THE UPDATE BELOW

I bought this 2010 version of Publisher out of (evidently misplaced) product loyalty, having loved the much earlier version Publisher 98. Before the 2010 version became available I bought Serif PagePlus X3 because I had work to do and couldn't wait for the new version of Publisher. PagePlus was generally quite adequate but because it had some strange idiosyncracies I then bought Publisher 2010 when it became available.

So far I have only used Publisher 2010's "catalog merge" feature, so I can't tell you how well (or poorly) the other parts of the software behave. However, what I can tell you is that THERE ARE SOME SERIOUS BUGS IN CATALOG MERGE. In fact, I find it unbelievable that this version was released without fixing such obvious problems. I have only used the catalog merge feature with Microsoft Excel 2007. Perhaps the bugs are caused by using the 2007 version of Excel rather than the 2010 version. Perhaps. Also, I am using both products under Windows XP, so it's possible that the bugs I've found are not present if you are using the 2010 versions of both products under Windows 7. Perhaps.

Here is a list of the bugs I have found so far:

(1) Some numeric fields in Excel are not correctly read by Publisher. You have to keep changing things around to get it to work. Defining the Excel field as text works sometimes. Also, by using Publisher's "Edit List" and then clicking the "Edit" option, you can sometimes get it to work (even though you get an error message from Publisher that some other program is using the data source, it still works).

(2) If you try to get Publisher to read in long text fields from Excel, it often truncates the field at some arbitrary length. This one drove me crazy until I found that I could get around it by temporarily filling up the merge worksheet with data. When you do that, Publisher reads in the text fields correctly. Then you can go back to the worksheet and delete the temporary data and after that Publisher reads in any changed data correctly.

(3) Even though Publisher gives you a check box labeled "Save settings with publication" to preserve the printer settings for each Publisher file, this only works some of the time. Sometimes you will bring in a different Publisher file only to discover that the printer settings for the previous file are still in force. The only way to be certain is to exit Publisher entirely and start over with the new file as the first one used.

As I said above, these ridiculous bugs may be caused by using differing versions of Publisher and Excel under Windows XP. Or maybe not. In any event it seems to me that this should be no excuse, since there are an awful lot of people who are still using Excel 2007 and/or Windows XP and it seems to me that they (and I) have a right to expect Publisher to work correctly regardless.

UPDATE AS OF 12/17/10:
Okay, it turns out that the problem IS using this with Excel 2007 and/or Windows XP. I am now using it with Excel 2010 under Windows 7 and so far everything appears to work just fine. But whatever you do, if you created a publication mixing Publisher 2010 and Excel 2007, do NOT attempt to use that publication once you upgrade to Excel 2010. I tried that and had nothing but grief. You just have to start all over again with a new publication and then things work the way they're supposed to. I WISH that Publisher 2010 had given me a warning message when I first tried using it with Excel 2007; you'd certainly THINK that would be an obvious feature to include.
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on August 28, 2011
Microsoft Publisher files 2003 and later can be sent via email imbedded in the body of the email with the links all functioning. It's a great feature and the recipient does not need publisher to view and they do not need to open an attachment. Apparently if you purchase Publisher 2010 as a stand alone product that feature is disabled. After a very long hour spent with tech support this was confirmed. I wish I had that explained before I spent the money getting Publisher 2010 for my new computer.
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on November 23, 2013
I have used multiple versions of Publisher for well over two decades. And this is essentially is the same product, updated for Windows 7.

It is made for small documents, probably no more than 10 pages, and really, it is best for documents of no more than 4-6 pages. Company newsletters, menus, forms, labels, signs, and the like are the mission of Publisher. Not great, but very workable, 4-star program, consistent, and easy to use. And stable, which is important.

It is totally lacking in any automation, like table of contents, index's, list of figures, etc. Yes, you can have one, but you create it just like any other text box, and if you move a story from one page to another, you have to go back to the index or TOC and modify them by hand. Importing anything by using something other than a copy-and-paste method is largely impossible. Heck, even page numbers, which ARE automated, have limited places where you can place them. Typical of Microsoft-you can have automated page numbers, but only if you put them where WE want you to put them.

One of the best things about Publisher 2010 is it'a ability to save as a PDF file. It is not a separate 'export' function like in many other programs, it's just another saving option. When I create documents at work, I create a Publisher version, then hide it so it does not get discarded or modified accidentally. I then create a PDF version, and save it where everyone can access it. They are perfect PDF's as far as I can tell, no PDF reader ever has a problem with them.

Another thing that Publisher does very well is labels. Labels can be a real pain to design and print, but Publisher does this very well.

At work, we have two copies of Publisher on different computers. Both computers have exactly the same fonts installed on them. Normally, this is great, but occasionally, if I work on a document on Computer A, then open it later on Computer B, some things, especially text that is a tight fit, the last line of a document is suddenly no longer visible, as the fitting is now off and I have dropped the last line off the page. This can be a real pain to deal with.

Another problem with Publisher is that there is no Mac version. Since most serious DTP work is done on Mac, this makes moving DTP files from (say) a company started version to professional versions on a Mac impossible.

Unfortunately, there is a gap in the DTP field. You have programs designed for greeting cards, signs and the like. Then you have Publisher ($100). And they you step up to PageMaker ($500, and which is a largely orphaned program), then InDesign, which is so expensive, you can only rent it by the month!

You really get the impression that MIcrosoft really does not care about Publisher. I believe it was created by a separate company that Microsoft bought decades ago, and they have largely ignored it since then. This is a shame, as a little work would create a nice middle-of-the-road program capable of handling complex documents reliably.

ATTENTION MICROSOFT: Put some money into this program, to increase it's flexibility and reliability, add some automation (Index, ToC, and maybe others) features, and increase the price so that it retails for $149.95, and I bet you could make a lot of money. Then keep selling the current version, but include a 8 page limit on publications, and sell it as Publisher Lite for $79-99, and you would make a good profit on both versions.

So, if you proposed document fall into the middle of the road category, docs of no more than 10 pages, then Publisher is a decent program. If you create document that are larger than this, or need things like Table of Contents or indexes, seriously consider InDesign.
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on August 14, 2014
Great product, but beware of Microsoft rules.
I've used MS Publisher for many years and particularly like the 2010 version. (I've tried 2013, and it is the first version I haven't cared for.) It is very user friendly, installs quickly, and includes a variety of templates - pamphlets, posters, stationery, greeting cards, brochures, resumes, and much, much more. It also includes access to Microsoft clipart, which is apparently only available now to those who own a Microsoft product.

I had used Publisher at work for many years. Now that I'm retired, I wanted to get it for my home use. I tried to purchase directly from Microsoft, but they no longer sell the 2010 version. So I purchased it from a reseller on Amazon. The product loaded and ran beautifully under Windows 8.1.

Two weeks after installing Publisher 2010, my new laptop failed and had to go into the shop for repairs. The manufacturer had to replace the hard drive, which of course means reinstalling all applications. Publisher 2010 came with a single-install option. But Microsoft has worked with me in the past when I needed to reinstall due to a computer problem, so I expected the same this time. I was wrong.

When I called Microsoft and explained my situation, they asked where I had purchased Publisher 2010. When I told them that I had purchased via Amazon, Microsoft told me that because I purchased from a third party, they will not allow me to reactivate it. You have to both reinstall and reactive in order to use it.

I paid a very high price for just two weeks of use and will not buy Microsoft products again.

Again, Publisher 2010 is a great product; just beware of Microsoft's rules regarding software purchased from a third-party. This was (very disappointing) news to me.

My rating of 5 stars is for the product itself only.
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on September 7, 2010
This is the best version of Microsoft Publisher I have ever used. It makes it so easy to set the artwork for my business cards and brochures in a very quick manner. I have used several desk top publishing programs over the years, including a past version of Publisher, but I will be using this one exclusively from now on due to the ease of use.
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