Desk Top Publishing

Desktop Publishing is an ideal home based, small business.

A good desk top publisher can be a one person business, accepting work from anywhere (locally or on the other side of the world).

To succeed, you need:

  • Appropriate equipment (computer, software, fast internet connection, and other things such as a scanner and printer
  • Knowledge and skills to perform the work
  • Clients

If you already have these things you may be ready to launch a small business. If not; you may need to undertake a course, then plan and prepare before launching. Consider one of the following courses:  Certificate in Electronic Journalism or Diploma in Journalism



Desktop publishing (DTP) is the production of brochures, manuals, reports and other publications, using a personal computer and peripherals. Most desktop publishing relates to material that, in its final form, is printed on paper (ie. it is printed on a computer printer, following production and editing on the PC). It can however also involve situations where the final product is published on the Internet or on a CD-Rom (ie. in electronic format).




Desktop publishing involves using a personal computer (on a desk top) to write the material and to prepare the layout for a publication. Desktop publishing usually combines graphics with word processing.



After producing the final product, it may be published in any of the following ways:


a) Printing directly from a computer printer

For small quantities, this can be the most effective way.


b) Printing one high quality ‘master’ copy

The master copy is then used by a commercial printery as camera ready artwork (ie. the printery uses this to create plates, from which the publication is printed).


c) Copying onto a CD master

Most commercial printeries have the equipment to read and print direct from the CD, providing the files are compatible with their system. Some authors or publishers will publish CDs rather than (or as well as) printed copies of the publication.



What is different about desktop publishing?

Word processor and desktop publisher programs are different types of software, although they do have some of the same capabilities:

  • A word processing program is designed to process text. Sophisticated word processing programs, such as the most recent versions of Microsoft Word, do allow for graphics to be inserted into a text document, however they have fewer capabilities for page layout and the processing of graphics compared to true desktop publishing programs.
  • Desktop publishing programs, such as QuarkXPress and Adobe Page Maker, are designed to combine text and graphics together on the one page. Desktop publishing software is able to process text, but not to the same degree as a true word processing program.


Most desktop publishers write and process (edit and format) the text using a word processing program, then import the text into a desktop publishing program. The desktop publishing program is then used to lay out both the text and graphics prior to printing.


Compared to traditional printing processes, such as typesetting and producing bromides, desktop publishing has a number of advantages:

  • It is relatively inexpensive.
  • It can be less time consuming.
  • It allows changes to be made to layout very easily, at any stage of production.
  • It allows material to be converted into a variety of other forms very easily (ie. the material can be printed as hard copy, or used to produce plates for printing, or converted to a different software program, or converted to HTML language and loaded onto the internet, etc).
  • It allows the possibility of writing the material and doing the layout at the same time. (With traditional typesetting or bromide production, the cost of the equipment is so high that this work is usually contracted out or sent to different departments to be carried out.)
  • It does not require a high degree of expertise to produce a basic document, such as a newsletter. This means that almost anyone who can use a sophisticated word processing program can fairly easily master the basics of using a basic home office DTP program, such as MS Publisher. (Note: A professional graphic artist with specific training in DTP will still be needed to produce the final layout for high quality documents.)