Best Things to Make With Desktop Publishing Software

Personalized DTP projects have a place in the home

Wedding invitations on polka dot background

Walter B. McKenzie / Getty Images

Graphic designers already know why they need desktop publishing software, but DTP software and techniques have a place in the home, too. You don't have to be a professional designer to turn out fun projects for your family and friends, even if you can't afford the high-dollar desktop publishing software used by the pros.

These projects and the affordable (even free) software options are available to everyone. No design skill is needed. This list doesn't include small business projects like business cards and brochures. These desktop publishing projects are primarily for personal use.

Greeting cards and calendars may seem obvious, but you might be surprised by the home decorating potential of desktop publishing.

Greeting Cards and Invitations

Greeting cards may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of DIY desktop publishing. Sure, you could send email greeting cards, but not everyone uses the internet (really). You could pick up a ready-made card to cover virtually any occasion, but there's something special about a homemade card. Even if you start with one of the hundreds of predesigned templates online, the card is still your unique creation when you print it from your computer. If you want a personalized card that uses your own words and images, then desktop publishing is the way to go.

A wedding invitation or a birth announcement must be personalized. Wouldn't you rather design a birth announcement once and print out multiple copies rather than handwrite the details on store-bought announcements? Desktop publishing software can save time.

The software for creating greeting cards or invitations can be as basic as the word processing software you already own or Windows Paint, the graphics software that comes with the Windows operating system. However, you can also opt to use software that comes with tons of greeting card templates and walks you through every step of the process.

As a bonus, some of these programs include templates for other print projects such as certificates, scrapbook pages, or business cards. If you are feeling adventuresome, you can even make your own envelopes.

Calendars

You can rely on the calendar on your smartphone or computer or go to the store for any number of decorative or hard-working calendar formats, but a calendar you make yourself is a special way to count the days. A personalized family calendar is a great project you can share as a gift for all the family or for certain individuals to commemorate a significant birthday or anniversary. Use your own photos or scans of drawings by your kids and add family birthdays, weddings, and reunions. After you create a family calendar for one year, it's simple to update for the following year. Change some pictures, switch around a few dates, and you're done.

As for the software, dedicated programs and downloadable templates serve up plenty of designs that you can personalize a little or a lot.

Personalized calendars aren't just for your family. You could make them as gifts for teachers, clubs to which you belong, or customers of your own home-based business.

Books

If you've ever toyed with the idea of writing a book, you can stop waiting for a publisher to get your words into print. You don't need a lot of money or a huge audience to publish your book — it's relatively simple to self-publish using desktop publishing software. Create a keepsake book of family history, a scrapbook of vacation photos, or a book of your own images, poetry, or favorite recipes.

For a long or complex book or one you plan to distribute widely through self-publishing methods, you may need professional-level desktop publishing software. If the cost is a concern, take a look at the ​free Scribus or Apple's Pages, but don't overlook the use of word processing software such as Microsoft Word for your book. For books that are more like scrapbooks or photo albums, consider scrapbooking software for Mac or Windows.

Signs, Posters, and Home Decor

Did you know you can decorate your home using desktop publishing? Print up decorative signs or banners as party decorations or permanent decor, or make your own "WANTED" poster for a child's room or as a gag gift for a friend. Print funny fliers to amuse your family and friends. You're not limited to letter-size posters, even if you are printing from your desktop printer, either. Look for poster design software or a sign kit and explore the tiling options of your software or printer to print large posters on multiple sheets of paper that you tape or glue together.

In addition to posters, use your font collection and bits of clip art and desktop publishing software to create fun, funky, or beautiful labels for drawers and cabinets. Being organized doesn't have to be boring — design matching labels for baskets in your bathroom so you can tell at a glance what's in each one, or make small, decorative reminder signs for turning off lights or keeping certain doors closed. Got some unsightly power cords hanging around? Add decorative cable labels to organize and rein them in.