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Desktop Publishing vs. Word Processing

written by: Amanda Presley•edited by: Laura Jean Karr•updated: 5/31/2011

Word processors are meant to create and edit documents while desktop publishing possess basic word processing with enhanced formatting and layout features. Learn more about the differences between the two applications.

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    What is Word Processing?

    A word processor like Microsoft Word is basically an electronic typewriter application with the option of editing content whenever needed. Word processing allows documents to be typed for printing or viewing electronically and has some extra features like spell checking, formatting and lists. These extra features give the user more document control than that of simple text editors. The general idea for any word processing application is to be able to edit and format the final document. Thus, the advantages include:

    • Easy to edit, move, delete, save, print, spell check, and format.
    • It also allows the expression of ideas clearly as these can be changed or deleted later.
    • Allows organization of ideas in one single file.
    • Easy sharing and storage features.
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    What is Desktop Publishing?

    Desktop publishing is as good as having a mini-printing press within a personal computer. Publishing software helps design the page layout for each document. Tools in desktop publishing applications can help the user to configure the layout, where things are printed in the final design and how things are printed. Desktop publishing tools are simple to understand and use, plus with having the absolute layout control it is distinguished from word processing apllications. A list of open source desktop publishing tools are listed here. Advantages over word processing use include:

    • Desktop publishing at home or office can be less expensive.
    • The tool allows full control on the final output.
    • Easy to edit and make changes.
    • More mediums (text, pictures, and graphics) to communicate ideas.
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    Word Processing vs. Desktop Publishing

    Both word processing and desktop publishing are similar in many ways but different in areas that cover the publication of documents.

    The similarities between the two are:

    • Both tools deal with text that can be formatted.
    • Both tools can work with tables and pictures.
    • Both tools have many similar features like WordArt, Clip Art, and text styles.

    The differences between the two are:

    • Word processing involves creation, editing, and printing of text while desktop publishing involves production of documents that combine text with graphics.
    • Word processing is difficult to layout and design as compared to desktop publishing. Thus, desktop publishing is used to work on things like newsletters, magazines, adverts, and brochures where layout is important. Word processing documents are common for simple memos, letters, manuscripts, and resumes.
    • When creating a desktop publisher, the first page is blank and a text frame must be added to add text. This is unlike the wordprocessing in which text can be directly entered into the blank page.
    • With desktop publishing, users can easily manipulate text and graphics and try new ideas. In contrast to this, word processingtools are adding more page layout features. Thus, the line that draws the difference between the two hardly exists now.

    Though there are many differencesbetween the two, more word processing applications are coming out with enhanced features that mimic many of the desktop publishing tools on the market today. So, whether you choose to use word processing or desktop publishing software all depends on your document publishing needs and what application your are most comfortable using.






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