The place for nonprofits, charities, and libraries

Is InDesign the way to go?

Is InDesign the way to go?

  • I need some help over here! Let me set the stage. I work for an environmental NP and currently have a Dell laptop at the office. I need a laptop because I work from home a day or two a week, field work, and somtimes I moderate training session my org puts on and I connct my laptop to the ME Departmet of Education's Distance Learning Program system. It allows us to hold a training session in one location and broadcast to remote locations in a full mesh (video and audio), switching between a number of electronic devices (laptop, instructor/student/ document camera, VCR/DVD player, etc.). I have a docking station and a secondary monitor set up as an expanded view (therefore, dual monitors...and I love that). I use primarily 2003 MS Office products every day. I also have Adobe Standard 6.0, Photoshop Elements 3.0, ArcGIS/Arc View to name a few of the softwares. I use publisher to publish brochures, signs, an posters for our training dept and annual conference. I regularly use all these softwares within the course of a week. Recently, my deputy ED has asked me if I'd be interested in taking over another task...publishing our newsletters. We currently have two newsletters, may be increasing though. I told her I wanted to do some research on DTP software. From what I've found, I really seem to like InDesign. I've been getting by on '03 Publisher but I'm worried that with the addition of newletters that publisher will not be a sufficient product for my needs and will be quite limiting. thoughts? Recommendations?

    Jason Blais, Communications & Technology Coordinator

    Maine Rural Water Association

  • Your question seems to be premature. I recommend you take over the publication production and learn the existing process. Then you can identify the problems, deficiencies and opportunities that present.


    Free case management software for food pantries/emergency services 501(c)(3) organizations. See:

  • Our org uses Publisher to do our newsletters and it suits our needs quite well.

    Gary Network/Systems Admin Berlin, NH
    Host Non-profit Tech Careers, Security Forums
    Co-Host Networks, Hardware, & Telecommunications Forum

  • Thanks Bob,
    I certainly don't want our org to purchase expensive software for the sake of purchasing expensive software. Our newsletters are currently outsourced to someone else that uses InDesign to design them. I guess my worry, which I failed to make clear before, is whether it would be a good idea to take the newsletters from InDesign to Publisher (2003)? It would appear to me that this would be taking a step backwards in producing a professional product; while at the same time taking advantage to upgrade the production of all our brochures, signs, and posters (which I currently produce in 03 publisher) to InDesign. I already find I'm limited in designing these three items, and feel that it would be exponentially more so for newsletters. But...if we don't need InDesign than I don't want to get it.


    Jason Blais, Communications & Technology Coordinator

    Maine Rural Water Association

  • The entire Adobe Creative Suite is only $160 for qualifying NPOs (hopefully you qualify). I'd say its worth the investment to see which products work best for you: Adobe or Microsoft. Careful, make sure your laptop has a lot of RAM - Adobe products are very resource hungry.

    Chris Shipley
    Nutmeg Consulting

  • I want to second Chris's comment about memory. We use InDesign, and I've expanded the memory in the computer on which it's installed twice. Since memory isn't generally very expensive these days, I'd recommend upgrading your machine to the max that it will take.

    Mike Kirros IS Coordinator Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund Midwest Regional Office

  • I agree that it's better not to take a step back. Publisher is more than adequate for a lot of things, but if you've already got templates and history in InDesign, if you can get your hands on a copy, InDesign would be a better way to go.
    Chris Broussard Director of I.T. Louisiana Association of Nonprofit Organizations
  • I took over our agency's newsletter about 8 years ago, and at that time it was done in Publisher. I switched to Pagemaker and recently upgraded to InDesign. We print to our own Canon color laser (Ir series) and the postscript driver offers a tremendous amount of options. From what I remember from Publisher, it is easier to use but in the long run, InDesign is more rewarding.
  • If your news letter is a paper product printed by a outsourced printer, you best be checking with the printer to see if they can handle the files from publisher.

    Many print shops can't or won't work with publisher files. If you are working in color, you also have to deal with Publisher's RGB color processing compared to InDesign's CMYK color processing.

  • thanks for all your help. there were a few new points mentioned I hadn't thought about.

    Jason Blais, Communications & Technology Coordinator

    Maine Rural Water Association

  • I'm thinking of switching from a crashed hard drive damaged Pagemaker 7 to In Design. I put out 15 or so tabloid-sized newsletters a year for hiking, and trail maintaining groups, and for a land trust.

    My question for those who have had the experience is, How difficult did you find the transition from Pagemaker to In Design?


  • I used Pagemaker in high school and InDesign in college, the transition between them was not too difficult.  If you use Photoshop, Illustrator, or other Adobe apps as well, CS4 has a much higher level of integration between programs which makes the whole workflow a lot smoother.

    If anything, the steepest learning curve today would probably be adjusting to Adobe's new user interface paradigm, which is not specific to InDesign but shared throughout most of the CS4 suite.  The way that toolbars, palettes, etc function has changed quite a bit from the Pagemaker days, things are now very modular and dockable and collapsable and customizable, which can take some getting used to but I think mainly for the better once you get the hang of it.

    The other consideration that would affect your experience is whether your computer is new/fast enough to perform well with CS4.  Even though InDesign has tons of new features compared to Pagemaker, it wouldn't do you much good if the program ran very slowly.