Brochure Design Software: 3 Options Compared

So, you need to design a brochure? Where do you start? We’re comparing three different pieces of brochure design software to see how they stack up.

For web and digital designers creating a printed brochure for the first time, to designers that have been making print pieces for a while, using the right tool can make brochure design a more efficient task.

Adobe tools are the common starting place. Today, we’ll compare using InDesign, Illustrator and Adobe Spark (a free offering) for creating a brochure design.

InDesign

Adobe InDesign is made for designing printed projects. Most designers go to InDesign first for any type of printed, multi-page layout because it is best suited for these kinds of projects.

From Adobe: “The industry-leading page design software and layout app lets you create, preflight, and publish beautiful documents for print and digital media. InDesign CC has everything you need to make posters, books, digital magazines, eBooks, interactive PDFs, and more.”

Pros of InDesign

  • Made for handling lots of text with styles for establishing rules for copy blocks
  • Master Pages functionality so you can create a common page set and apply it with one click
  • Tools that make page navigation easier such as indexing and automated contents
  • File handling and sizes is most efficient with InDesign because it only “contains” images from other places and does not embed them
  • Easy export to print-ready formats (as well as custom print settings)
  • Page setups allow for columns, grids, bleeds and print specifications
  • Direct brochure to online publication settings
  • Most downloadable templates come in InDesign format
  • Spread layouts let you see pages as connected units
  • Native files are generally accepted by many print shops (as are package files)
  • Great export compression, with multiple options

Cons of InDesign

  • Price, InDesign is part of the Creative Cloud suite and comes with a monthly subscription
  • Images, logos and graphics have to be imported from other places and remain linked to the file
  • Extensive software than can take some time to learn
  • Not usually the first thing designers learn when working with Adobe tools; Photoshop and Illustrator are more common with non-print designers

Illustrator

Adobe Illustrator is a vector-based tool that’s made for creating scalable illustrations. You can use it to create brochures – many designs do – but file and text handling features leave something to be desired for many users.

From Adobe: “The industry-standard vector graphics software lets you create logos, icons, drawings, typography, and illustrations for print, web, video, and mobile.”

Pros of Illustrator

  • Ease of use for designers that are comfortable with the software
  • Feeling of greater customization since you can draw and manage images inside files
  • Ease of creating odd or custom layouts, such as die-cuts
  • Better for brochures that are image-heavy and require repeated manipulation
  • Scalable files; create a brochure and reproduce it at any size

Cons of Illustrator

  • Price, Illustrator is part of the Creative Cloud suite and comes with a monthly subscription
  • Large file sizes since everything lives in the created file; they can grow to massive sizes
  • Page and spread management isn’t ideal here and you have to manually create page spread, grids and formatting
  • Extensive software than can take some time to learn
  • Export formats are not ideal for print publication

Adobe Spark

Spark is one of the newest software tools in the Adobe family and it comes with Creative Cloud subscriptions and in a free version. (The free version has a few limitations but is quite robust.) The primary function of Spark is to create simple online elements that can be adjusted and shared online.

From Adobe: “Spark is a free online and mobile graphic design app. Easily create beautiful images, videos, and web pages that make you stand out on social.”

Pros of Spark

  • Ease of use; Spark is intuitive and packed with starters to make design easy
  • Made for digital publishing (if that’ the format you plan to use for the brochure design)
  • Flexible format will change your design from one size to another with a click and few changes
  • Free
  • Plenty of trendy tools, such as image filters, styled text and animations
  • Software includes plenty of sharing tools
  • Make a brochure design into a simple website without code

Cons of Spark

  • Not made for multi-page format
  • Custom manipulation can get tricky
  • Not made for printed designs

Overall Assessment of Brochure Design Software Options

The brochure design software winner is Adobe InDesign. It’s just made for this type of job.

But it’s not that simple for all designers. There are other considerations to take into account.

When it comes to designing brochures, learning InDesign is worth the time.

If you are planning to do a lot of brochure design – print or digital, but especially print, learning InDesign is definitely worth your time if this isn’t a tool you are already using every day. If you don’t do a lot of this type of work and already know Illustrator, you can make it work using that software.

Adobe Spark isn’t really recommended for anything that needs multiple pages or actual printing.

But… then there’s thinking about when and where you’ll design brochures. InDesign and Illustrator are desktop-based design software tools; Spark is browser-based. (So, if you need something simple fast, Spark might be a viable alternative.)

If you are designing brochures from templates – that’s where many people start – pay attention to the formatting of the design. That can make your decision for you if you are set on a particular template. The brochure design templates often come as InDesign files, although there are Illustrator templates out there.

What it comes to down is what you are comfortable with using, and the time you have to complete the project. If you already know one type of software, that will probably be your go-to choice.

But when it comes to designing brochures, learning InDesign is worth the time. In the long run, it will help you create brochures faster (thanks to better tools for the job), save and export for printing with smaller files and be one more skill in your design repertoire.

Ready to begin your design? We have some great brochure templates to help you get a head start!