What Is Microsoft Office Publisher?

By Aaron Parson

Word isn't always the best program for creating documents. Here's a few ways that Publisher outshines its better-known sibling.

In many ways, Microsoft Office's Word and Publisher perform the same tasks. Both offer a way to combine text, images and formatting into a document. But while Word excels at typing long documents with a focus on the text, Publisher is a better tool for creating precisely designed publications such as booklets, pamphlets, business cards and greeting cards.


No versions of Microsoft Office for Mac include Publisher. The home retail version of Office for PC does not include Publisher either. Subscribe to Office 365 (home or business) or buy a retail copy of Office Professional to use Publisher on your PC.

Publisher for Cards, Posters and Flyers

When you first open Publisher, you aren't greeted with a blank page, but rather a selection of templates. Choose a blank page to start from scratch or pick one of the many ready-made publications to start a card, brochure or other creation. Templates give you everything you need to quickly customize your publication without worrying about page layouts or margins. Edit the existing text, insert new text boxes or add your own images to suit your tastes.

Publisher for Booklets and Newsletters

Place text and images in Publisher.

Word has some options for laying out text, such as columns and wrapping text around images, but laying out an entire publication in Word is more of a struggle than it's worth. With Publisher, every object stays exactly where you want it. Place a paragraph of text or a picture without worrying about how other objects will move or jump between pages. The key is that rather than have text flow from page to page, all text in Publisher sits inside text boxes. Click Draw Text Box on the home tab to create each paragraph in just the right place, and insert images with the Pictures button.


Publisher has a more detailed ruler than Word, allowing for more precise measurements.

Publisher for Unified Design and Branding

Edit master pages.

Publisher takes a cue from PowerPoint and offers master pages. Add a logo or set up a theme on a master page to apply it to every other page in the publication. Click Master Pages on the Page Design tab and choose Edit Master Pages to build a master. Pick one of the master pages from the list to apply its settings and contents to the current page.


You can't select objects copied from a master page while working on an individual page, so you don't have to worry about them getting in the way as you edit.

Publisher for Distribution or Commercial Printing

Run the Design Checker.

Publisher's Design Checker prepares a document for publication. Whether you're sending it to a commercial printer, posting it to the Web or distributing it by email, the Design Checker alerts you to potential formatting, layout and style issues. Choose Run Design Checker from the Info tab in the File menu and choose which types of checks to run. For example, with Run Email Checks enabled, Publisher alerts you to non-Web-ready fonts.