If you do not have Adobe InDesign there are a few alternatives available. Here they are in order of preference and fitness-for-purpose:
- Page layout applications such as QuarkXPress, Microsoft Publisher, and Apple Pages.
- Drawing/illustration applications such as Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, Affinity Designer, etc.
- Photo editing applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Corel Paint, etc.
- Word processing applications such as Microsoft Word, LibreOffice Write, etc.
The #1 and #2 alternatives give you greater control and flexibility in terms of laying out pages and including different type of elements (text, images, and graphics). They are also better at handling bleed, maintaining margins, and outputting PDFs. We recommend that you use a page layout program.
The #3 alternatives require extra attention be paid towards maintaining bleed, margins, and page-to-page consistency (e.g. placement of page numbers, position of common header or footer elements, etc.). You also need to be careful how you handle type/fonts. It is very easy to create files that all pure image data (i.e. no font data) which will compromise the final print quality of any text.
The #4 alternatives are fine for sending purely-text content. Placing of graphics in these types of applications usually result in color-mode and resolution issues. Bleed is usually not supported so work-arounds must be performed. In most cases we can salvage artwork supplied in a word process document and as a result, the appearance of the pages will be different.
We do not recommend that you use a word processing program.