Working With Microsoft Publisher's PUB Format

Searching for and inserting clip art of bats onto page in Microsoft Publisher 2010.
Creating a .PUB document in Microsoft Publisher 2010.

The native file format for page layout documents created in Microsoft Publisher, a desktop publishing software application, is PUB. By default, when you save a publication (single or multiple page document) in Microsoft Publisher, it creates a file with the .pub extension. Files with the .pub file extension are print-ready files containing text, graphics and formatting information.

The PUB file format is a proprietary file format by Microsoft.

PUB files can only be opened and edited in Microsoft Publisher. Even though Publisher is included in some of the Microsoft Office suites, other applications, including Word, cannot open PUB files, and PUB files created in newer versions of Publisher may not be accessible to some older versions of the software, which is common with many programs.

Microsoft Publisher is available as a standalone program for the PC, as part of a Microsoft Office suite and as part of a Microsoft Office 365 subscription.

Viewing and Sharing Microsoft Publisher PUB Files

There is no standalone viewer available for PUB files like there is for Word, Excel and other Office applications. The free trial version of Microsoft Publisher can open PUB files for viewing but not for editing—they are read-only. If you have a PUB file and only need to view it, download the free trial of Publisher software to serve as a viewer.

Users of older versions of Microsoft Publisher may not be able to open PUB files from newer versions unless the file is first saved in a compatible older format. Newer versions of Publisher should be able to open PUB files created in older editions of the Publisher software.

An option for viewing Publisher files when you don't have Microsoft Publisher full or trial version is to ask for the file to be saved or exported to another format such as PDF or PostScript by someone who has Microsoft Publisher.

See How Can Someone Open Publisher Files if They Don't Have Microsoft Publisher? for detailed descriptions of these methods. 

Printing PUB Files

Because it is a print-ready file, a PUB file can be printed on any desktop printer when printed from within Microsoft Publisher. Although some commercial printing services accept native PUB files for printing, the format is not as widely accepted as other page layout programs. Creating PDF files of Publisher documents is the best way to deliver them to commercial printers. Check with your printing service to be sure.

Other .Pub Extensions

The .pub extension was also used for two very early desktop publishing software programs. You're unlikely to encounter them.

  • Ventura Publisher (predecessor to Corel Ventura)
  • PFS 1st Publisher