1. Technology
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Composing Type • Text Preparation Phase of Desktop Publishing

Text composition in desktop publishing


Desktop publishing is the process of arranging text and graphics on the page and producing a file for printing. Typographic or text composition is a step in that process that takes the text and ensures that its appearance is appropriate and that it enhances the overall page composition. Text composition involves numerous individual tasks that break down into four general areas:

  • placement: how text is arranged on the page
  • style: how the text is sized and modified
  • spacing: margins, distance between text and images, space between lines of type, columns, and even characters
  • embellishment: use of drop caps, bullet lists, and other fine-tuning

The art of typography focuses on the characteristics of a typeface, the shapes of the individual characters, and the aesthetics of a particular font. Text composition deals with how fonts are arranged on the page. It involves manipulating text placement and altering the visual appearance of the text.

Do each of these text composition tasks, as required. Where available, find tutorials and related resources for further study on each task. 

  1. Placement/Alignment
    Margins and columns or grids confine text to certain portions of the page. Fitting or wrapping text around graphic elements and other blocks of text changes the flow of the text. How text and other elements line up with each other affects the overall appearance of the page.
    Page Numbers
    Line Length (formulas)
    Text Wraps
    Text Alignment (centered)
    Text Alignment (ragged right and fully-justified)


  2. Style: Size/Contrast/Emphasis
    The relative size of one portion of text to another or the font size and style relative to the dimensions of the page creates contrast, affects readability, and contributes to the look and feel of the composition.
    Bold Type
    Italics Type
    Type Size
    Type Size with Line Length
    All Caps


  3. Spacing
    Altering the amount of space between characters, words, lines of text, and blocks of text can help in fitting more text on the page, making pages visually lighter or heavier, and improving readability.
    Leading (line spacing)
    Kerning/Tracking (character spacing)
    Line Endings/Hyphenation (widows/orphans)
    Spacing After Punctuation
    Paragraph Spacing
    Paragraph Spacing/Creative


  4. Embellishment/Fine-tuning
    Initial caps, hanging punctuation, bullets, and printers ornaments or dingbats use typography to add visual interest.
    Typographic Punctuation
    Initial Caps
    Bullet and Numbered Lists
    Dot Leaders
    Hanging Punctuation

After completing text acquisition and text composition, the next phase in creating a desktop publishing document is image acquisition and preparation. Working with images may also occur during the text composition phase as their placement can affect the alignment and flow of text.

Next Phase > Images

The Desktop Document > Text Phase > Text Composition


Get Started: Basic Guidelines and Requirements for Desktop Publishing
Choose Software: Desktop Publishing and Design Software
Make Something: Things to Make Using Desktop Publishing
Tips & Tutorials: How to Do Desktop Publishing
Training, Education, Jobs: Careers in Desktop Publishing
In the Classroom: Back to School With Desktop Publishing
Use Templates: Templates for Print and Web Publishing
Glossary Terms for Working with Type
  1. About.com
  2. Technology
  3. Desktop Publishing
  4. Typography
  5. Composing Type • Text Preparation Phase of Desktop Publishing

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.