Adobe InDesign vs Affinity Publisher: Which Layout App Is Best for Me?

InDesign vs Publisher: How to Know Your Best Layout App

Adobe InDesign and Serif’s Affinity Publisher are both page layout applications for graphic design. But which is the best page layout app for you?

Markzware gives an honest review of the two applications and how they compare, considers who might be a good fit for Affinity Publisher, and how those users can open InDesign content within Publisher.

Adobe InDesign CC 2017 logo 250x250

Adobe InDesign

According to Adobe, “InDesign is the industry-leading layout and page design software for print and digital media.” (Source: It is an extremely feature-rich app with tools for using graphics, Adobe Stock images, tables, and typography (from top foundries) in layout and typesetting.

With InDesign, you can create attractive graphic designs, and publish reports, books, brochures, digital magazines, eBooks, flyers, interactive online PDFs (with animations, audio, slideshows, and video), posters, print magazines, stationery, and more. It integrates with Adobe Experience Manager and Creative Cloud, so you can collaborate on, edit, share, and manage content, fonts, and graphics across projects.

Affinity Publisher

Affinity Publisher

Per Serif, Affinity Publisher is “the next generation of professional publishing software” that is an “incredibly smooth, intuitive app” for macOS and Windows. (Source: With Publisher, you can create books, brochures, magazines, posters, reports and stationery, plus add graphics, images, and text to publishable page layouts. Publisher offers numerous additional features, to assist your creative workflow.

You can then share templates, with custom tables, linked/scaled/shaped text frames, double page spreads, and live, nested master pages, across apps and devices. Serif further notes Publisher’s “Unrivaled compatibility” to “Import and export to all major raster and vector files, including layered PSD, PDF and EPS formats.” (Source:

Potential Users of Affinity Publisher

The professional, all-in-one Affinity Publisher app may be used by:

• designers who want to avoid Adobe Creative Cloud costs and requirements

• users without access to InDesign

• non-professional designers with occasional commercial or personal design tasks

• beginning web designers

• book designers

• book publishers

• students with assignments that design could enhance

• online eMagazine creatives

• interactive PDF designers

• brand identity designers

• in-house marketers

• designers adding to their skill set

• creatives seeking an InDesign alternative

• users who want to edit publication pages, within the same app

• and many other users

InDesign vs Publisher

Adobe InDesign CC 2017 logo 250x250


Affinity Publisher

While both have many similar qualities, such as efficient print book and ebook layout design, there are several differences. You can sample the trial versions and determine which app affords you a higher comfort level and makes more sense for you to use, within your budget. Here are some pros and cons, along with the feature set for each product:

InDesign Pros

• is IDML compatible

• integrates with Adobe Experience Manager

• offers creatives a plethora of design features

InDesign Cons

• requires monthly Adobe CC costs

• has an overwhelming startup process

• lacks satisfactory Adobe technical support

Interface to Open Adobe InDesign in Affinity Publisher

Publisher Pros

• offers a low-cost single purchase, saving money on Adobe CC’s monthly charges

• loads faster than InDesign, with speedy, efficient filtering and editing

• is IDML compatible

• is designed with a focus on designers

• integrates with other Affinity programs, for seamless app switching

• is easier to control header/footer & page number content

• is easier to edit styles or large amounts of text

• has a lighter, more intuitive feel, especially for book design

• works well for content layout, editable in a single window

• has a widespread support community

• accommodates large-scale documents

• lets you override paragraph leading for selected characters

• supports iPad

• supports fonts you’ve grouped in Apple’s Font Book app

• offers more flexibility for current design needs

• seamless access to Affinity Photo and Designer apps

Publisher Cons

• different terminology for similar items

• doesn’t yet handle footnotes/endnotes

• doesn’t yet support tagged accessible PDFs

• no GREP/Nested Styles support

InDesign document in IDMarkz, showing the Export IDML Feature

IDMarkz Export IDML [Light Theme]

InDesign and Publisher Features

InDesign Features include:

• Adobe Asset linking

• Artistic text

• Baseline grid and text frame rulers

• CMYK/spot color support

• Column rules

• Enhanced data merge

• Find similar images

• Flash formats removal

• Gradient masks

• Gradient and Transparency controls

• Group movement

• Hyperlink Appearance and Accessibility

• IDML export

• Image with non-destructive adjustment layers correction and enhancement

• Keyboard Shortcuts

• Layers panel

• South-East Asian languages support

• Links scale factor number sort

• Live preflight

• Object editing

• On-boarding resources

• Paragraph and Character Styles

• Pathfinder panel

• Reverse spell-check

• Stability and performance

• SVG import

• Text decorations and drop capitals

• Troubleshooting support, in-app

• Text wrapping

• Variable fonts support

• many more

Publisher Features include:

• .aftemplate Template file saving/sharing

• Artistic text including text on a path and artistic text frame editing

• Assets panel for image assets storage

• Baseline grid and text frame rulers

• Boolean Geometry menu

• CMYK and spot color support, End-to-end

• Gradient masks

• Gradient and Transparency controls (smooth)

• Group movement and scaling

• History panel (savable) with creation steps display

• IDML import

• Indexes and Table Of Contents auto-generation

• Keyboard Shortcuts, customizable

• Layers panel with thumbnails

• Linked text frames with advanced flow options

• Languages support for English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, and Russian

• Live preflight checking Preflight panel

• OpenType support and glyph browser

• Pan and Zoom at 60fps (smooth)

• PDF/X print-ready output with shared online document hyperlinks

• PSD, AI, PDF, JPG, TIFF, PNG or Affinity file placement

• PSD smart objects import

• Text Styles panel (single) with styled text display

• Raster/vector (layered PSD, PDF, EPS) file formats import/export

• RegEx search and replace

• Stability and performance

• Text decorations and drop capitals

• Transparency tool

• Text wrapping with fine padding control

• Undo History, savable

• many more

An Adobe InDesign document within the Affinity Publisher environment

Open In Affinity Publisher

Export InDesign to Many Destinations, via IDMarkz

Open InDesign in Publisher

Affinity Publisher is IDML compatible, meaning it has the ability to import IDML files. IDML is an open format created by Adobe to allow for the interchange of publishing files. Users of InDesign can manually export their InDesign documents before opening the IDML in Publisher. For users who don’t have InDesign, IDMarkz can fill the gap, by helping to open InDesign files in Publisher.

Markzware develops software to preview, preflight, convert, and open page layout files. Markzware’s IDMarkz is a stand-alone app to preview and open Adobe InDesign files in many file formats, including in Affinity Publisher, earlier InDesign versions, QuarkXPress, Acrobat, Illustrator, and IDML. In addition, it can export InDesign files as PDF, PNG, JPEG, GIF, IDML, and TIFF.

Video: IDMarkz Open In Affinity Publisher Feature

Open in Affinity Publisher

“… to be quite honest, it’s not a bad product. I found that if you know InDesign, you know Affinity Publisher. … I use InDesign, at a pretty intense level … but I certainly see it [Publisher] viable for flyers, newsletters, trifold brochures. …”
– Chad Chelius, Adobe Certified Instructor/trainer/consultant/
speaker/book author/LinkedIn Learning Author…
Source: Adobe Certified Instructor Chad Chelius on new InDesign Exporting software

Markzware IDMarkz macOS Submenu Banner black on white

Open InDesign in Affinity Publisher via Markzware’s IDMarkz App

Markzware’s IDMarkz Mac Subscription includes software updates throughout the term of the 12-month subscription, which is available via the IDMarkz page or via this button:

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You can see additional page layout solutions for desktop publishing on the Markzware Products page. You are also invited to join our Mailing List and to share with Markzware on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Adobe InDesign vs Affinity Publisher: Which Layout App Is Best for Me?

Title: Adobe InDesign vs Affinity Publisher: Which Layout App Is Best for Me?
Published on: February 26, 2020
Patty Talley

Strategic Marketing Analyst at Markzware

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