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How to Write Effective Text for Desktop Publishing Projects

written by: Haley Montgomery•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 5/28/2009

Desktop publishing is not just about design. DTP projects require effective writing as well as good page layout and design to accomplish their goals. This article offers writing tips for making desktop publishing projects more appealing, persuasive, and effective.

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    Writing for DTP Projects

    From show-stopping headlines and must-read anecdotes to informative bullet points and easy-to-understand instructions, the need for effective writing in desktop publishing projects is unmistakable. When writing for DTP projects, the first step toward effective text or "copy" is to write well. The composition skills you learned from Mrs. Armstrong back in 10th grade are even more important in desktop publishing "real-world" projects than they were in your high school term papers. Here's a refresher course on some of the general hallmarks of effective writing:

    • Compose a mixture of simple and complex sentences.
    • Employ a thesaurus to avoid excessive repetition of the same words.
    • Use parallel structure in lists and items in a series.
    • Write with descriptive words.
    • Avoid errors in sentence structure such as run-on sentences, sentence fragments and incorrect subject, verb and pronoun agreement.

    Beyond high school English lessons, effective writing for DTP projects sometimes requires special considerations to help projects accomplish their goals. Writing that generates publicity must cater to the specific needs of the audience as well as effectively communicate a marketing message--usually within a small space. Follow these five writing tips for creating effective text and copy for desktop publishing projects.

    1. Be concise. Edit, edit, and edit again. Your desktop publishing project is competing with countless other brochures, pieces of mail, websites, billboards and posters for the attention of viewers. Avoid excessively wordy content so your design is easier to understand and absorb. If one word can replace the use of two or three, use it. If bullet points can replace paragraphs, compose your text in that format.

    2. Be active. When writing for marketing, an active writing approach serves as a call to action. Action words inspire a greater response from your audience. In addition, an active sentence structure tends to produce more concise text. Avoid the use of passive voice and use a "command" or directive sentence structure when appropriate.

    3. Be persuasive. The goals of most desktop publishing projects go beyond simply providing information. Many projects centered around publicity or marketing seek to illicit a response from the viewer, motivating them to make a call, buy a product or get involved in a cause. Be sure your writing for those types of DTP projects uses a persuasive tone, clearly outlining the steps to take for the desired response. Persuasive writing tends to be slightly more aggressive than merely informational text. However, when writing for DTP marketing projects, avoid the "hard-sell." An overly aggressive tone can actually turn off readers.

    4. Be appealing. Desktop publishing is a buyer's market. The viewer has almost complete control over when and if he reads your text, and is more likely to responds to information that is relevant or beneficial to him. Effective writing for DTP projects makes the advantages to the viewer clear. When writing your text, appeal to your project's specific target audience with words, anecdotes and facts that make responding seem like the best option. Don't inundate your audience with information just about the DTP client. Show why the viewer should care and respond.

    5. Be correct. Proofread and check facts. Careless spelling, syntax, grammar or factual errors can easily discredit a desktop publishing project, regardless of how well-designed. Preserve the professionalism of the project and the integrity of the organization or company it represents by ensuring all text is correct.