Learning How to Do Desktop Publishing

The Desktop Document Step-by-Step

Learning how to do desktop publishing involves mastering desktop publishing tasks that fall into 6 areas: design, setup, text, images, file preparation, and printing.

Suggested Prerequisites

Additional Resources for Learning Desktop Publishing

The Desktop Document
Although presented step-by-step, learning and doing desktop publishing is not an entirely linear progression. You'll find yourself going back and forth many times between tasks and between each phase both while learning desktop publishing and when creating desktop published documents.

  1. Prior to the actual creation of the document is the design phase. This is an on-going process but initially it involves determining the basic form of the document. The design phase of desktop publishing can involve:
    • Document format decisions
    • Conceptualization
    • Color selection
    • Font selection
    • Image selection
  2. Document Setup Phase
    This is where the desktop publishing really begins. Document setup tasks could include:
    • Template selection
    • Page size and margins setup
    • Columns or grid setup
    • Master pages setup
    • Color palette customization
    • Paragraph styles setup
  3. Text Phase
    The text can take many forms. It may be supplied to the desktop publisher by a client or supervisor or the desktop publisher may create their own text. Text can be created in a word processor or directly in the desktop publishing application. Text-related tasks of desktop publishing fall into two categories:
    • Text aquisition
      Text acquisition is the method by which text is created (such as typing in a word processor) and imported into a desktop publishing application.
    • Text composition
      Text composition consists of many individual tasks regarding where and how text is arranged on the page and how the text is formated, including spacing, hyphenation, and type styles. Composing type is one of the most involved steps in learning how to do desktop publishing.
  4. Images Phase
    Image selection and preparation may occur at any point during document creation. Working with images in desktop publishing can involve:
    • Image aquisition
      Image aquistion may be from scanning or by acquiring digital clip art or photos.
    • Image creation & editing
    • Image conversion
    • Image placement
      Image placement refers to the method of bringing images into a desktop publishng application.
  5. File Preparation Phase
    After the document looks the way the desktop publisher wants it to look, it's time to make sure that it will print the way it is supposed to print. This phase is also known as the prepress phase. Prepress or file preparation may include some or all of these tasks:
    • Proofing
    • Font embedding
    • Trapping
    • Color specs verification
    • Imposition
    • Packaging of digital file
  6. Printing & Finishing Phase
    After the document is designed and the file prepared for printing, the last step in desktop publishing is the actual printing, along with any finishing touches required. These tasks could be part of the printing and finishing phase:
    • Print to desktop printer
    • Delivery of digital file to service bureau or printer
    • Finishing (Varnish, Trim, Fold...)
    • Distribution of finished document