Advise needed: what to use for creating PDFs with a lot of photos

I have just used a word processor (Pages) for the first time in many many years to actually produce a PDF with a lot of photos. I usually use Markdown, and sometimes LaTeX, to produce documents which fits me much much better - and I usually publish on some web site.

Anyway, after two days of frustration I managed to complete the document. But I don’t care to have this experience again. But I’m probably using the wrong program to do this. So I would like to ask what I should be using.

Assume that you want to produce a document which have a lot of photos in it (think some kind of “photo essay”), in addition to the text. The main output would be PDF but other formats are a plus.

What program would you use for this? To me Word is not an option, Pages was frustrating, I’m going to try Nisus - I remember that it was much easier to handle images in Nisus compared to Word, Keynote is another option that I haven’t tried yet.

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As a designer as I would normally create such document with Affinity Publisher. Not only can you create multiple Master page (like template), it’s easier to create your photo essay. Your PDF is ready for printing.

Keynote is also a good option but your pages are normally made for screen. Plus, you can’t have a page with a spread compared with a real publishing program.

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If you’re not too fussed about specific formatting of text around images, Ulysses does a decent job. You can embed the images right in the Markdown text and then there are various export options which include PDF in several styles. It can also export directly to WordPress if that’s what your web site is running.

I’m fairly sure there are other Markdown editors that can do this but I do not have recent experience of any. I’d suggest looking at iA Writer and ByWord as these are two I have used in the past and liked. But I have no idea what their feature set is in regard to images.

Specifically what in Pages was causing the frustration? I’m guessing it might have been text wrapping? On the Document Inspector “Arrange” button, there are five different options for how text is to flow in vicinity of the image/photo. I use “inline with Text” (sadly that not default) to let the images move as I adjust the document.

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I would use Curio for this. The idea spaces can show page breaks and a document can be composed either zoomed in for detail, or out for big picture.

Beyond that, Keynote, which has templates geared toward these presentations, and could be reformatted for A4/letter size PDFs.

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Did you start from scratch in Pages or use one of the templates? Most of the landscape templates are set up for image-heavy documents. Unless you’re doing something esoteric with your page layout they should work and / or be modifiable to handle most projects. On the other hand, if you start from a blank document it’s going to be an uphill battle.

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Thanks for the answers, I’ve tried using Keynote and I should have used it instead of Pages for what I was doing this time. Ahh well, the next time I’ll know better.

I’ve been looking at Affinity Publisher but I haven’t justified buying it so far. I’ll see how often I will be doing this … and how advanced I want to do it. It definitely looks like it can do anything that I want to do.

When writing for the web I often use Ulysses, unless I want tables etc then I use BBEdit, and it works well. However, in this case it didn’t really work, I wanted to format the document in a way that isn’t easy to do using Markdown/HTML.

I started writing the whole thing in Ulysses and then tried to export it so I could finish the formatting in Pages and that didn’t work at all. I need up exporting to Markdown, created a new document using a template (not one in landscape orientation though) and pasted the text into it. My main problem was that I didn’t understand how the photos were “bound” to different paragraphs.

Curio isn’t something I have used, I need to look closer at it.

If I were to redo this document I would use Keynote, and if I were to do several documents of this type I would create template to make it easier to handle the photos. But a document with more text and fewer photos is probably something that is better suited for Affinity Publisher. Anyway, this was a fun way of using my photos - something that I will do again.


Both Byword (the Markdown editor I use) and iA Writer can include image files. You may want to use a line of HTML to do so if you want to control the size or other features of the images. Byword can export to PDF but you might enjoy Brett Terpstra’s Marked 2 app which can output to PDF using a style sheet (either one of Brett’s or your own).

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Wasn’t aware that this can be done :slight_smile:

True since this is also for more advanced features which I think Keynote can serve you better.

Yeah, unless you’ve worked in the publishing industry for 10 years, it’ll do anything you can imagine. It’s certainly not ‘cheap’ in absolute terms but is incredible value for what you get.