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Where to Begin
It's hard to know where to start with a new hobby or project sometimes especially if you have the will but can't find the way. If you know you have the right tools of flair and creativity but lack technical expertise in the field of DTP then hold on tight, because this desktop publishing guide for newbies has everything you need.
We begin by looking at some great software options for beginners, although specialist programs are not a must. I've created some nice looking designs using Word, and there are some lovely free options out there as well.
Next, we explain the different types of software available in the DTP arena and then move on to decode some terminology. There's nothing worse than hearing those terms but not really knowing what they mean.
Even if you have an eye for color, a bit of guidance never goes amiss so start out with great templates such as these that are all free and usually easy to customize to your needs.
We then take a look at some tutorials of straightforward projects you are likely to need in your repertoire, finishing off with some great tips and printing advice for the finished design.
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Choose Your Software
You can make use of software programs you already have but for added options there are plenty of great programs out there. When you're just starting out, you might be a bit confused by some of the different types of software, so we'll look at what's what so you can decide on the best option for the kind of designing you are likely to be doing the most.
If you aren't sure you're ready to shell out hundreds of dollars for professional software when you're starting out, then take a look at some of the easiest free software to use. I've also included a review of one of my favorite DTP programs that is easy to use and competitively priced.
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Understanding Desktop Publishing Terms
If you find yourself scratching your head over some of the terminology in the publishing world, then believe me, you are not alone. Learn the difference between a typeface and a font and what serif and sans serif are. DTP terms, layouts and publishing jargon are all explained so remember to bookmark the page so you can come back in the future to stop any further head scratching.
- Learning the Different DTP Terms and their Meanings
- Alleys, Gutters and Other Page Layout Terms
- What Is Typography?
- Typeface Basics - What's the Difference Between Serif and Sans Serif Fonts?
- Diagram Showing the Parts of a Letter/Typed Character
- What is a Dingbat Font?
- Publisher Jargon and Definitions
- Typeface Vs. Font - What's the Difference?
- What's the Difference Between RGB and CMYK Color
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Use Color to Great Effect
Color is a powerful tool for the desktop publisher to have up their sleeve, but it's all too easy to use it incorrectly. Use some of our color design tips to make your pages pop for the right reasons. Should you limit the number of colors used in a publication? Who's your target audience and what types of color schemes generally appeal to that group? These are just a couple of the questions you should answer before embarking on your project, so you won't have to waste time and change the entire design at a later date.
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Make Templates Your Friend
Templates are the friend of all desktop publishers, and all the ones here are freebies too, which is a double bonus. All the hard work on page layouts has been done for you; in most cases you just need to add in the pertinent text details for the occasion. That doesn't mean that all these templates generate dull and generic designs though, it just means that they are just a great place to start. Make them your own by changing colors or adding borders, clipart or dingbats.
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Easy Projects to Tackle Yourself
Now that you have a good few tools and a host of knowledge at your disposal, you're ready to tackle some of your very own projects. This selection takes you through a diverse range of projects you might want to try with some great tutorials to walk you through a project from start to finish. Many of these tutorials have accompanying templates or samples that you can download from our media gallery, to help you get a great head start.
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Tips You Need in Your Design Repertoire
As promised, here are some tips that once you know, you'll wonder how you managed without them. It's the difference between a keen amateur publication and a professionally produced finish. We're always adding more tips and tricks to this list, so be sure to bookmark this page and keep checking back!
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Printing Out the Completed Design
The final stage in your publishing journey will no doubt be printing out the finished product, which is not always as easy as you'd think. Here are some of the best guides about printing out your design no matter what it is. Printing on fabric can be tricky as can brochure printing (because there are margins and binding to consider), so what's the best type of printer to use for your project? Find out here:
- Tips for Printing On Fabric
- Should you Print Using an Inkjet or Laserjet Printer?
- Top Tips for Brochure & Catalog Printing
Hopefully, this guide for newbie desktop publishers has cleared the fog and left you with some great tips and tools at your disposal. If you still find something confusing or think something is missing from our guide, then be sure to let me know by leaving a comment in the section below.