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What Is Desktop Publishing?

written by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 6/22/2011

Desktop publishing involves producing a myriad of first-rate documents such as newsletters, brochures, and flyers from software on a personal computer. For more on what desktop publishing can do for you, its applications and implications, read on.

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    Defining the DTP Field

    Desktop Publishing is a by-product of the rapidly emerging technologies of recent years. Essentially, at the point in time when the forces of technology developed to enable that projects and tasks traditionally accomplished only at publishing houses and printing shops (with the requisite equipment and at high cost) could instead be completed at home or in the office, the term ‘desktop publishing’ was born. It came to encompass the revolutionary development whereby materials could be designed and printed on top of the small office/home office (SOHO) desk. The whole process from creation to printing can now be completed from the SOHO setting with a personal computer, a printer, and the creative capabilities of the user.

    This article gives you the broad strokes of what Desktop Publishing (DTP) entails and points you to other articles on the Bright Hub DTP channel that cover DTP software and applications. Our channel is dedicated to guiding the SOHO community to the cheapest means to accomplish all of their DTP needs while also keeping their funds out of the hands of expensive advertising firms that these types of DTP projects might have traditionally been outsourced to for completion.

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    What Does Desktop Publishing Entail?

    DTP allows you to create and design a large variety of printed materials and publications from a PC or a Mac. DTP software allows the user to manipulate typesetting, typographic alignment, images, graphics, page layout, and more with a single integrated system. For user convenience, most DTP software programs are What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG), which means that once you design something on your computer; the finished product will print out exactly as you saw it on your monitor.

    The Bright Hub Desktop Publishing channel has an extensive array of articles, reviews, and tutorials on DTP software. In a nutshell, DTP software incorporates page layout and image editing programs. Use the BH search engine on our DTP channel to learn more from our experts about the major players in DTP page layout software, such as Adobe PageMaker, Corel Ventura, QuarkXpress, Microsoft Publisher, and Serif PagePlus.

    Likewise, photo image editing software will most likely be needed to accomplish your DTP projects and you will glean all you need to know about these offerings on the Bright Hub site. Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photo-Paint, Paint Shop Pro, and the GIMP are the programs you’re going to want to look into on our site.

    Scribus is excellent open source DTP software with helpful tutorials which make for a quick learning curve. You can download this program at http://www.scribus.net/. It’s an excellent tool for SOHO users who don’t want to pay for DTP software. And check out Brian Nelson's article "Getting Started with Scribus," the first in his excellent and ongoing Scribus series on the DTP channel.

    Now, for instructions on how to create and produce many DTP projects using free templates, please refer to my series of articles listing the free template sources for making newsletters, calendars, brochures, flyers, pamphlets, and more at http://www.brighthub.com/members/danmcgoldrick.aspx. The resources in these articles will greatly benefit the small business owner in creating marketing and advertising materials for next to nothing.

    I hope this article has given you a general overview of Desktop Publishing. However, it’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the wealth of information on all of the DTP software and tools available, many of which you will find on our hub at http://www.brighthub.com/multimedia/publishing.aspx. Explore, create, and generate all the DTP materials you might need by utilizing the tools and resources on our site.