Even if you've never used a desktop publishing program before, you might have heard of The Print Shop. The brand has been around since the 1980s, developed by Broderbund as the first at-home publishing software that used templates and clipart to make designing posters and cards hassle-free. The Print Shop effectively pioneered at-home desktop publishing applications as we know them, and though it's long since been lapped by better products, it remains a strong name in a field of unknowns.
The most recent version of The Print Shop has three variants: a standard, a deluxe and a professional edition. The Print Shop Pro 3.5 is the line's latest, top-tier release. Given what it's designed to do – offer the budding designer an easy way to put good-looking labels, business cards, calendars and stationery together – it's unquestionably successful. The program's 5,500 templates run the gamut from certificates to resumes, while many of its staggering 250,000 art assets are of high quality. There's a decent amount of chaff obscuring the wheat of that portfolio, but you shouldn't have a problem finding art assets you like.
As a tool for designing simple documents, The Print Shop Pro may be a success, but when compared to the best desktop publishing software we could find, it falls noticeably short. Despite its "Pro" moniker, The Print Shop Pro lacks many of the professional features we've come to expect from our desktop publishing packages. It doesn't have master pages, so you can't set certain elements to be persistent across every page of a newsletter or brochure. It doesn't have an integrated vector graphics editor you can use to create a new business logo or modify an existing, template logo to suit your needs. It doesn't even have the ability to import content from standard programs like Microsoft Word – if you want to write longer articles, you'll have to copy-paste them in and spend time tweaking the text formatting.
Thankfully, there are a few tools at your disposal to make managing text a bit easier then it otherwise could be. You can use the kerning to manipulate the spacing between letters – a seemingly small thing, but it can make a lot of difference when you have a lot of text on a page that you're trying to squeeze in while still maintaining readability. If you need a table, you can insert and manipulate one from within The Print Shop – a capability far too many competitors can't boast. We wish we could say the same about charts or graphs, but we'll take what we can get.
The Print Shop Pro is unquestionably one of the biggest names in desktop publishing, but it's far from the best publishing software around. Too many feature absences mar an otherwise decent product, from its lack of master page support to its inability to import common document types. So long as you aren't looking for more advanced capabilities, though, it's perfectly serviceable.
It offers a complete set of tutorials to guide you through creating your next project, and its templates are of surprisingly good quality.
The software's publishing and graphic design features leave a lot to be desired.
The Print Shop Pro is one of the oldest names in at-home desktop publishing. As a source of fun templates for at-home projects, it's wonderful. As a tool for creating a professional-looking newsletter or brochure in your own home, it's vastly inferior to our top pick at exactly the same price.