Express Publisher offers inexpensive, high-quality desktop publishing


5/8 TC Can you really get high-quality desktop publishing software for IBM and compatible computers for under $200?

Yes, if you buy Express Publisher version 2.0 at its typical discounted "street" price. Published by PowerUp Software Corp. San Mateo, Calif., (415) 345-5900, the program carries a suggested price of $160.

Desktop publishing, which means producing "typeset-quality" newsletters, brochures, pamphlets and the like, is one of the most demanding tasks you can ask of your personal computer.

The single most important aspect of any desktop publishing program is the choice of fonts -- typeface designs -- that you get.

Express Publisher gives an excellent choice of 10 typefaces, each of which can be scaled in size from six points to 144 points in one-point increments. That's a range suitable for everything .. from the fine print to the biggest headline.

The fonts are Compugraphic's Intellifont Scalable Typefaces licensed from Agfa Corp., and even the largest sizes produce smooth curves and diagonals, not jagged edges, on a standard laser printer. (Dot-matrix printers can also be used.)

Because the type is scalable, you don't have to build and store a permanent font set on your hard disk for each size you use in a document. Instead, Express Publisher temporarily creates just the typefaces and sizes you are currently using. That saves a lot of disk storage space.

Even so, it takes 4.4 megabytes of hard disk space to store Express Publisher, its font outlines and a collection of 109 clip art images.

The program will run on any PC-compatible with at least 640 kilobytes of random access memory (RAM), but it performs much better on 80286- or 80386-equipped machines with additional memory. The faster your microprocessor chip and the more memory you have, the faster the program works and the more complex your page designs can be.

Also, although it will run on old-fashioned low-resolution CGA monitors, you'll want an up-to-date color VGA monitor to see your work at its best on the screen while you create. (However, Express Publisher produces only black and white documents. It does not support color printing.)

It is important to recognize that some important features of more expensive desktop publishing software aimed at professional use are missing. For instance, there is no table of contents or indexing feature.

Express Publisher is not meant to produce books or lay out the pages of a magazine or a real newspaper. It is excellent, however, for those of us who only occasionally need to do desktop publishing.

Computer File welcomes readers' comments but regrets that the author cannot respond individually to letters. Write to Richard O'Reilly, Computer File, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror

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