Microsoft Word vs. Adobe InDesign: A Text Snapshot

So a lot of people seem to ask the question, “Is Adobe InDesign really that much better than just using Microsoft Word to produce a book?” If you’re producing simple text ebooks, it doesn’t really matter what program you work in… the end result is going to be a digital file. But for print publication, even simple text looks better when laid out in InDesign.

But don’t take my word for it. Here are two screenshots I made of the same piece of text. (It’s the opening of my novel, The Faithless.) The top one was done in Microsoft Word; the bottom was done in InDesign CS6. Click on the pic for a higher-resolution version:

word-indesign-comp1b

Now, obviously these are compressed screenshots… the actual print versions will differ slightly. However, you can see right away that InDesign gives a more robust print quality, and that the spacing between letters and words is rather different. (Ignore the first line, with its drop cap, since that screws up the spacing.) Here’s a shot overlaying the two, where you can really see the spacing difference:

word-indesign-comp2b

InDesign does a better job of handling ligatures, kerning, and word spacing overall. Now, you might be saying, “Sure, there’s a small difference. But is it really worth going out and buying a whole new layout program?”

Well, here’s where it gets awesome: you can get Adobe InDesign CS2 (as well as Photoshop CS2 and Illustrator CS2 and several other parts of the Adobe Creative Suite) for FREE, direct from Adobe. They shut down their authentication servers for the old CS2 versions a few months ago, and decided to just post the ENTIRE install files, along with serial numbers, on their Downloads page. DISCLAIMER: Adobe has said that they did this so original purchasers of Adobe CS2 products could perform reinstalls of their product as necessary… not to just give away old versions of their software. But come on… they know full well that ANYONE can follow the link below, download the CS2 products, and activate them with the serial numbers they provide:

http://www.adobe.com/downloads/cs2_downloads/index.html

I can understand why they don’t want to make it look like they’re just giving away old versions of their software… but that’s exactly what they’re doing! Now, if you end up liking InDesign (or Photoshop or whatever other product you download), they have newer versions that are even better… so buy those.

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