In short, desktop publishing is the process of using the computer and specific types of software to combine text and artwork to produce documents properly formatted for print, Web, or mobile devices such as newsletters, brochures, books, business cards, Web pages, greeting cards, letterhead, packaging, signage, etc.
The desktop publishing process is employed by both graphic designers and non-designers to create visual communications for commercial digital printing , printing on a printing press, or for desktop printing at home or in the office. Although desktop publishing can encompass everything from the initial design to printing and delivery of the finished product, the core parts of desktop publishing are the page layout and text composition and the prepress or digital file preparation tasks.
The primary software for desktop publishing is page layout software. Graphics software, including drawing software and a photo editor, word processing software or office suites, and Web design software are also major tools of the graphic designer or desktop publisher.
Desktop Publishing in Depth
It was primarily the introduction of both the Apple LaserWriter, a PostScript desktop printer, and PageMaker for the Mac that kicked off the desktop publishing revolution. Aldus Corporation founder Paul Brainerd, is generally credited for coining the phrase, "desktop publishing." Read more of When Was Desktop Publishing Invented?
Before the invention of desktop publishing software the tasks involved in desktop publishing were done manually, by a variety of people and involved graphic design, typesetting, and prepress tasks which sometimes leads to confusion about what desktop publishing is and how it is done. Read more of What is Desktop Publishing?
Freelance and in-house graphic designers, small business owners, secretaries, teachers, students, and individual consumers do desktop publishing. When desktop publishing software first debuted, desktop publishing was almost the exclusive realm of graphic designers. However, with the advent of more desktop publishing software and easier-to-use, consumer-oriented software desktop publishing became accessible to a wider range of people, including non-designers and others without graphic design experience. Read more of Who Does Desktop Publishing?
Also Known As: dtp | DTP | graphic design | electronic publishing | computer publishing
Alternate Spellings: Desk Top Publishing
Common Misspellings: dpt or DPT
Examples: "John does desktop publishing using Microsoft Publisher software to put together and print a monthly newsletter for his neighborhood association." AND "Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress are two of the top desktop publishing programs used by professional graphic designers.
Even More on Desktop Publishing
Software FAQs cover the kind of software you need and how to use it
How Definitions and Perceptions Affect Desktop Publishing Professionals - do you do desktop publishing?
Desktop Publishing in the 21st Century - redefining Desktop Publishing as it is used today
You can be a graphic designer without knowing how to use desktop publishing software and you can learn how to use desktop publishing software without being a graphic designer. Today, for better or for worse, desktop publishing software replaces the T-squares and mechanical pencils. But no matter which tools you use, they are only tools. Owning desktop publishing software doesn't make you a good designer anymore than owning a big drawing table. It's possible that some day those of us who grew up with PageMaker or InDesign or PagePlus will lament the next new tool for design and publishing, whatever form it takes. — My analysis of one of the quotes about desktop publishing found in Desktop Publishing Quotations, In Others Words.