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Final Thoughts

This article has deliberately focused on the merits of Pages as a word processing program with the potential to replace Word in certain environments. As should be obvious, for many users Pages would make a poor alternative. Writers who regularly share documents with people using other word processing programs will find Pages troublesome, given its inability to edit files in anything other than its own format. The lack of heavyweight editing and tracking tools stunts its value for collaborative projects, and the absence of an equation editor diminishes its attractiveness for writers in scientific and academic fields. Finally, limited viewing and navigation options make Pages less easy to work with when large documents such as book manuscripts are involved.

But that still leaves a lot of users for whom Pages makes a lot of sense. Simple but robust approaches to things like mail merges, tables, charts, and page layout make Pages an excellent tool for a variety of basic office tasks (see Figure 10). A nice assemblage of templates together with intuitive, easy-to-learn tools provide a means for creating attractive documents such as brochures and flyers within Pages—at a fraction of the cost of anything available from Quark or Adobe, and with far less effort.

Figure 10

Figure 10 Where Pages really excels is in blending page layout with word processing, thanks to a mix of powerful features with remarkable ease of use. Here, a document is broken into sections with different numbers of text columns.

Given that the iWork '08 bundle including both Pages and Keynote retails for a measly $79 or $99 for a five-user family pack, Pages is a program that will be especially attractive to people running small businesses, and to users with limited funds to dedicate to office software, such as students and teachers.

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