Adobe Software Change Vexes Some Student Publications

The loss of free Adobe software previously provided by Harvard for students to download on their personal computers has proven problematic for many student publications.

While a number of student publications normally conduct production on their staff members’ laptops, free Adobe software is now only available in the Science Center and the Student Organization Center at Hilles.

Students hoping to use the software on their own laptops must now purchase the Adobe Creative Suite student edition from Harvard for $199. The Adobe Creative Suite, which is used for layout, image editing, and graphic design, includes popular programs like Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop.

The Harvard Independent previously designed its newspaper using Adobe products on personal computers in its SOCH office, said co-president S. Susan Zhu ’11.

This week, the staff attempted to produce the newspaper in the SOCH computer lab instead. Because that lab contains Macs and they usually use PCs, the fonts didn’t transfer and production lasted three hours longer than usual, according to Zhu.


“It was a nightmare trying to do all of it,” she said.

The publication solved the problem by eventually finding someone who already owned Adobe software and installing it on their computers.

Samuel J. Barr ’11, editor-in-chief of The Harvard Political Review, also said he was worried about font compatibility on Harvard-owned computers.

The political magazine uses both InDesign and Photoshop, and Barr said that The HPR would likely relocate to a facility that hosts the software as a result of the change.

“It’s definitely inconvenient to have to do the whole thing there rather than on our laptops,” he said.

Meghan F. Houser ’11, editorial board president of Tuesday Magazine, agreed that gathering the entire staff at the computer lab for production would be an inconvenience. But due to a limited budget, the magazine will be unable to purchase the Adobe Creative Suite and will likely be forced to use one of Harvard’s computer labs with Adobe access.

“There’s no way Tuesday can afford that,” Houser said of purchasing Adobe software.

But the Adobe policy change will not affect all publications.

Satire V editor-in-chief Amy Rosenthal ’11 said the humor publication does not use Adobe products for production. The Crimson operates its own licenses for Adobe software, according to Crimson Design Co-Chair Emma M. Benintende ’11, but many editors used to have the Harvard-provided version of the software installed on their own personal computers.

As of press time, Noah S. Selsby ’95, senior client technology adviser for Faculty of Arts and Sciences Information Technology, did not return a request for comment.

—Staff writer Danielle J. Kolin can be reached at

—Staff writer Naveen N. Srivatsa can be reached at