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How Definitions and Perceptions Affect Desktop Publishing Professionals

Do You Do Desktop Publishing?

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Some folks harbor strong feelings about software, their platform of choice, and what desktop publishing really means. Even what you call yourself or how you describe what you do affects how people -- especially clients and employers -- perceive your abilities and value. We can define desktop publishing and graphic design in fairly precise language. However, how we define it is only part of what we need to know in order to pursue a career in desktop publishing.

Why is the definition of desktop publishing important? What does it matter?

As a freelancer:
How others perceive you and what you do is often dependent on the title you give yourself. It can affect the types of clients you are able to attract and the rates you are able to command. Right or wrong, someone who does desktop publishing or callas themselves a desktop publisher is often considered less talented or capable or non-professional.

As a job seeker:
Knowing the types of skills involved in desktop publishing can help you match your own interests and skills to a specific job no matter what title the employer gives that job. In presenting your skills on a resume you may be best served by not listing simply desktop publishing ' -- instead describe your actual design and/or software and production skills.

As an individual or business person seeking design assistance:
Understanding the varied definitions of desktop publishing can help you understand the wide variance in quotes you receive from freelance designers. When you receive quotes ranging from $30 to $300 to design a brochure -- a red flag should go off warning you that the quality you receive will probably not be comparable at all.

As a student seeking education or training:
The level and type of training you receive from a course in desktop publishing is not always evident in the course title. One class in desktop publishing may only be a 'how to use PageMaker course' or how to use QuarkXPress' while another teaches how to use desktop publishing and basic graphic design skills to create attractive documents.

So what is Desktop Publishing? Strictly speaking...

Desktop publishing is the process of using the computer and specific types of software to combine text and graphics to produce documents such as newsletters, brochures, books, etc.

By contrast, graphic design is the process and art of combining text and graphics and communicating an effective message in the design of logos, graphics, brochures, newsletters, posters, signs, and any other type of visual communication, with or without the use of the computer.

It is the similarity and the differences in the two that causes confusion. Right or wrong, desktop publishing is sometimes perceived as the lesser of the two fields. But the terms are also often used interchangeably making it difficult to decipher which of the two is intended in job descriptions, course descriptions, and even software descriptions.

Your choice of computer tools -- hardware and software -- can actually affect how others perceive your abilities and professional status.

Pick Your Path to Desktop Publishing
Get Started:Basic Guidelines and Requirements for Desktop Publishing
Choose Software:Desktop Publishing and Design Software
Tips & Tutorials:How to Do Desktop Publishing
Training, Education, Jobs:Careers in Desktop Publishing
In the Classroom: Back to School With Desktop Publishing
Make Something: Things to Make Using Desktop Publishing
Use Templates: Templates for Print and Web Publishing
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