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Role of Desktop Publishing When Using Word Processing Software

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page layout / word processing

Word processing software can often create similar layouts to page layout software. It just goes about doing it differently.

Image © Jacci Howard Bear
While dedicated page layout programs are the best choice for desktop publishing, through necessity or by design many people use word processors to do complex desktop-published documents.
Word Processing is often the starting points for some new desktop publishers just getting started. Others make this field their long-term specialty. Freelance word processing jobs include resume design and typing up papers for students or preparing manuscripts for submission by writers who may not be proficient with computers or who simply don't want to do the required formatting even if they do produce their work in a word processor.

Some businesses often require secretaries, administrative assistants, office managers, and others to do desktop publishing in word processing programs such as Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect. Knowing how to do desktop publishing, even if it is with word processing software, is frequently a job requirement or at least a highly desirable skill.

Why Everyone Needs to Know Desktop Publishing (even if using word processing software)

Designing Using Word Processing Software

Word processing software uses different tools and methods to arrange text and graphics but, in many cases, it can produce the same types of documents done in a page layout program. The mechanics are different but the same principles of design apply.
"Today, what originally made desktop publishing packages so attractive to graphic designers — the ability to quickly and easily manipulate text and graphics on screen and try out new ideas — is readily available in less expensive, easy to use programs. At the same time that trimmed down desktop publishing programs are appearing, word processing software is adding more page layout features — and so the line is blurring between desktop publishing and word processing, in part, because of the software." -- Word Processing vs. Desktop Publishing

Even when documents will ultimately be laid out using dedicated desktop publishing software such as InDesign, QuarkXPress, or Corel Ventura, there is a place for word processing software in the workflow. Word processors excel at working with text. They are especially good for working with long documents such as books, then importing the text into page layout software for integration with graphics and further manipulation. Do all grammar and spelling checks, proofreading and fact-checking, and copyediting in the word processor. You can even do some formatting and import the text -- with formatting -- into your other software.

Types of Text Used in Desktop Publishing describes some of the formats that might be used to get text (plain or formatted) from word processing software into desktop publishing software.

Printing From Word Processing Software

Printing to a desktop or network printer from word processing software is not a problem. However, commercial printing can pose some difficulties if your word processing software is not capable of producing press-ready digital files. Talk with your print provider to find out what will work. PDF files may be an option. There are some quick printers who welcome .DOC files from Microsoft Word. Find a print provider who will work with you before you start producing documents for commercial or high volume printing.
"If the document must be created in Word and must be commercially-printed, work with a service that specializes in printing Word documents, learn the limitations of the format, and learn how to prepare digital files for commercial printing and the proper use of TIFF and EPS graphics." -- Do Desktop Publishing With Microsoft Word

Software for Word Processing

Microsoft Word may be the first program that comes to mind, but there are many other word processing software choices.
"Using a word processor will not save time; it will only increase quality. The time you save in retyping is canceled out by the time you spend making tiny revisions. Word processing software is extremely good with text — checking spelling, marking revisions, making changes across large amounts of text material." -- Software Tips: Using a Word Processor & Using Page Layout Software

16 Categories of Design Specialization

Word processing can be involved partially or completely in the creation of most of these types of documents, especially book design and self-publishing.
  1. Annual Reports & Proposals
  2. Business Forms
  3. Catalogs, Menus, & Product Lists
  4. Collaterals (brochures, etc.)
  5. Crafts & Creative Printing
  6. Identity Systems (logo, letterhead)
  7. Marketing Materials (ads, direct mail)
  8. Packaging
  9. Periodicals (newsletters, magazines)
  10. Presentation Graphics
  11. Publication Art
  12. Publications (books, manuals, booklets, etc.)
  13. Self-publishing
  14. Signage
  15. Web, Mobile, and Multimedia Publishing
  16. Word Processing

Three of these 7 paths correspond to the tabs at the top of the site. These pages take you through a topic either step-by-step from top to bottom or by grouping related subjects and materials.
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

Readers Respond: How To Do Desktop Publishing With Microsoft Word

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